Marko Marin was born on 13 March 1989 in Bosanska Gradiška, in present day Bosnia Herzegovina to Bosnian Serb parents. Like many youngsters born in the former Yugoslavia, his family settled abroad and Marko began playing football for the youth team of SG 01 Höchst in Frankfurt.
He then moved to the Eintracht Frankfurt youth set-up, before switching to Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2006. An impressive first year in their youth academy led to him being offered a three year professional contract.
In the 2006/07 season he impressed enough in the Regionalliga Nord with Mönchengladbach II to be called into the first team at the end of the season and he made his debut as a substitute against Eintracht Frankfurt.
His 63rd minute debut was crowned with a last-minute assist for Federico Insua which clinched a 1-1 draw for the Fohlen. The point however meant they were five points from safety and the club were eventually relegated. Marin though appeared in the final three games of the campaign against Bayern, Mainz, and Bochum.
In hindsight relegation was a blessing for the club as they restructured with Christian Ziege replacing Peter Pander as sporting director and a squad was assembled for the second division campaign that was arguably stronger than the one that was relegated. Young Marin became a key part of this squad winning rave reviews throughout the season.
He started to turn it on regularly for Borussia in the second division as they sought promotion back to the top flight. His skills and tricks down the wing brought admirers, but not concrete results in assists and goals however. He failed to score in the first half of the season and provided just five assists.
The second half of the season saw Mönchengladbach crowned second division champions and Marin’s star started to shine ever brighter. In the final 13 games of the season he scored four goals and set up another eight for his team mates to make him one of the most talked about young talents in Germany.
His name first appeared in the international press when Joachim Löw rather surprisingly called him up into the provisional German squad as it warmed up for the European Championships with friendlies against Belarus and Serbia. Marin made his full debut as a second half substitute against Belarus coming on for Bastian Schweinsteiger. He was however disappointingly dropped from the final squad along with Patrick Helmes and Jermaine Jones.
There had been a bit of a struggle between the German and Serbian FA’s for the services of Marin as he holds dual nationality, but the German FA it appears did more than their Serbian counterparts to secure him. The cynics said at the time that Marin was only called up into the German provisional squad so that he would become ‘theirs’.
He joins Barcelona’s Bojan Krkic as a potential world-class talent that the Serbian team has lost out on.
Marin is now being mentioned along with Bayern Munich’s Toni Kroos as the ‘next big thing’ in German football. So how good is Marko Marin?
He is nicknamed ‘Matchbox’ by the Gladbach fans due to his tiny frame. He is only 1m 69 and weighs in at 60kg so it is unlikely that he is going to win many aerial battles against the likes of Marcelo Bordon or Lucio, but he possesses excellent technical skill and is a very creative individual.
He is a ‘flair’ player with great vision and his trickery down the wing has had comparisons even with Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo. However, there is a danger that comes with being labelled the next ‘Wunderkid’.
Seeing as he is still so young it is very difficult to predict how he will develop. You just need to look at the likes of Lars Ricken, and Sebastian Deisler to see how youngsters built-up too much can ultimately disappoint and not reach the heights predicted for them.
Marin however, along with 18 year old Kroos, has an excellent chance to prove himself this season and try to show that Jogi Löw was wrong to drop him from the Euro 2008 squad. Keep an eye out this season for Matchbox Marin.