The teenager is now playing against people four years older than him, but made an instant impact for BVB’s Under-19 side.
“I hope people do not think that I will score 46 goals again in the Under-19s,” 14-year-old striker Youssoufa Moukoko told Ruhr Nachrichten after being promoted to Borussia Dortmund’s Under-19 squad. “I have to get there first and see what happens there.”
The forward made his competitive debut at U-19 level last weekend, starting up front for Borussia Dortmund against Wuppertal, where he netted a 28-minute hat-trick en route to a six-goal afternoon which helped the Black-Yellows start their season with a 9-2 win in the U-19 Bundesliga West.
Cameroon-born Moukoko has been a revelation at every age group he has played in, scoring 40 times in 28 games as a 12-year-old for Dortmund U-17s in 2017-18 and then breaking the league record with 46 goals the following season. This earned him a call-up to the Germany U-16 squad, making his debut as a substitute against Austria before scoring twice in his first start against the same opponents in September 2017. Two more cameo appearances followed, with another goal coming off the bench against Belgium.
Despite being four years younger than many of his team-mates, Moukoko was promoted to the Borussia Dortmund U-19s this season, where head coach Michael Skibbe has high hopes for the teenager. He believes he will become a top talent, claiming that all the off-field pressure does not affect the striker on the pitch.
“The boy will one day become a professional. That’s as guaranteed as an amen at church. Only injuries could stop him,” Skibbe told RevierSport. “Youssoufa is a totally relaxed guy, who handles his hype extremely well. He has established himself very well so far and was an excellent fit in our team.”
Bundesliga rules mean that Moukoko’s rapid ascent through the age groups will be halted at U-19 level for another few years, as he will not be eligible to play in Germany’s top flight until the 2021-22 season. DFB rules state that a player must be at least 17 on January 1 to be able to line out for his club and Moukoko will not turn 16 until November 20, 2020.
Off the pitch, Moukoko has had to deal with doubts over his age. These started when he was a prodigious talent at St Pauli, even before he moved to Dortmund as a 12-year-old.
However, his father worked tirelessly to prove his son’s age and received a German birth certificate in 2016 which matched his Cameroon documentation. Borussia Dortmund academy director Lars Ricken was forced to respond to age claims after he joined the club, telling reporters: “He is 12. That is simply a fact; there is no doubt about it.”
The striker hopes to follow in the footsteps of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the lightning-quick forward who rose to stardom at Dortmund. Aubameyang took the wonderkid under his wing while he was at Westfalenstadion, and continues to be in contact with Moukoko, offering him advice on how to improve his game.
“He’s like a big brother to me, he gives me tips, tells me what’s good, but also what’s not so good,”
Whereas Aubameyang has established himself as an elite forward, Moukoko wants to go a step further and become the world’s best player. “My goal is to become a professional with Dortmund, win the Champions League with Borussia and to win the Ballon d’Or,” he continued.
After scoring a double last season with Dortmund’s U-17 side (something he did on 12 separate occasions), Moukoko celebrated in the style of another of his idols – Cristiano Ronaldo. The pose guaranteed comparisons to the Portugal icon, but the German teenager is already paving his own path in his adopted country.
Moukoko has already had an instant impact at U-19 level and with six goals on his debut, it would be difficult to bet against him reaching the 46-goal tally again – even after making the step up. His next goal of becoming a professional should be guaranteed in the next couple of years and if he can keep finding the net with the same proficiency, his other ambitions of a Champions League and Ballon d’Or do not look that outlandish.