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Schalke 04

Breel Embolo, Schalke's NxGn starlet back in the blink of an eye

12:00 WAT 05/10/2018
Schalke 04 Breel Embolo 16122017
The youngster saw his career stall as an untimely ankle injury kept him out of the game for almost a year but now appears set to go to the next level

“Everything can change in the blink of an eye,” admits Breel Embolo.

One year ago, the €20 million Swiss international was flying. Two goals and some impressive showings marked him out as a potential signing for the season in the Bundesliga. And then it happened.

"Not only did the foul by Augsburg's Kostas Stafylidis lead to a complicated ankle fracture, a rupture to Embolo's syndesmosis and medial collateral ligament were also discovered," Schalke said on their official website. "He will be out of action for between at least four and six months."

That estimate proved optimistic. The then 19-year-old would actually be sidelined for the next 11 months. “Of course, I was shocked at first,” he told Bundesliga.com. “I immediately thought: ‘Damn, now you can’t help your teammates for a long time’.”

In the interim, it was his team-mates who would help him, lending their support from the moment of the fracture as the club rallied around their fallen star. Embolo went home to Switzerland to undergo his rehab close to his family and friends and returned ahead of this season raring to go.

The Cameroon-born forward reintroduced himself by giving a speech to almost 10,000 fans at the club’s annual members forum and made quite an impression. His infectious smile gleaming as brightly as ever, the gregarious young man’s off-pitch reputation is every bit as admired as his talent on it.

“I think he is a sensation, playing like that aged 17,” said Basel defender Fabian Frei after Embolo took just four minutes of his professional career to net his first goal. “I like him as a person as much as I do as a player.”

He would hit 17 goals in first full season with Basel and notch a further 13 in his second, his pace, power, cool head in front of goal and an ability to drop deep and provide the brains to compliment the brawn saw him tracked by a number of Europe’s elite.

Cameroon certainly thought he was a potential superstar. Having left his native country for Switzerland at six-years-old, the Indomitable Lions asked Samuel Eto’o to help convince Embolo to turn his back on his adopted homeland at senior international level.

Embrolo pledged his future to Switzerland, however, and is now focusing on making a belated splash elsewhere in Europe.

The 21-year-old has one goal and averaged almost 3 successful aerial duels per game in three starts this term and believes young coach Domenico Tedesco can take him to the next level.

“I had to win his trust,” Embrolo admits after becoming frustrated by a lack of opportunities when he first returned from injury. “We get along better and better. I now know a lot more about what I am. And one thing is clear: I can greatly benefit from this coach - his tactical work is perfect.”

Embolo is now seeking to establish himself as a key player in Gelsenkirchen and improve on his admittedly disappointing goal return of just six goals in 33 league appearances for the club to date. But if his magnificent slotted finish against Porto in this season’s Champions League opener is anything to go by, this could be his year.

After all, everything can change in the blink of an eye.