New Manchester City signing, Leroy Sane comes from family of sports people


On the news stands in downtown Gelsenkirchen, a boyish face stares out from the front cover of one of Germany’s best-selling football magazines.
The photogenic young man in question is Leroy Sane, the 20-year-old who has in the last fortnight become the most expensive German footballer of all time.
It is a transfer of true significance. Manchester City have paid Schalke an initial £37million but the deal will rise to £42m should certain add-on fees be fulfilled.
In completing the move, Sane has become the most expensive German player of all time

Sane is the most expensive acquisition of Pep Guardiola’s first summer in English football and that brings its own expectation.
This is a deal that usurps figures paid for World Cup winners Mesut Ozil, Mats Hummels, Mario Gotze and Manuel Neuer in the last five years.
Sane, we should not forget, has made only 47 appearances in the German Bundesliga.
In Germany, there is a sense of both pride and bewilderment. In Sport Bild, an editorial bemoaned the ‘loss of a potential international superstar much too soon’.

Others have been rather less complimentary. Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel argued the ‘sums are out of control’. Lothar Matthaus, the Bayern Munich legend, stated that Sane should have stayed in Germany for a while yet. ‘Sane will make several times his Schalke wages at Manchester City and that has been decisive in his decision to make the move,’ said Matthaus.
Certainly, the financial benefits are obvious. Only two years ago, Sane earned roughly £95 a week. ‘In Germany, it is called a “mini-job” for the youth players,’ explains Schalke’s academy director, Oliver Ruhnert. ‘You can only earn up to 450 euros a month. At Schalke, he was not a national player for Germany in the Under-16 or Under-17 teams so there was no reason for him to be earning more than that. He developed hugely in the Under 19 team and we changed his deal when he turned 18.
‘But trust me, money has not decided this move. It is not important to Leroy. The family are completely normal. They are not very rich, he’s just a normal boy with a special gift.’
In conversations with those who know Sane best, a picture has emerged of a family of rare sporting talent. Sane was reared in the district of Wattenscheid, amid the industrial heartlands of the Ruhr Valley. He is the latest diamond to be mined from a Schalke production line that has also produced Neuer, Ozil and Benedikt Howedes in recent times.

His father Souleymane, of Senegalese descent, was a professional footballer who spent parts of his career in the top tiers of German football with FC Nurnberg and SG Wattenscheid.
His mother, Regina Weber, won a bronze medal for Germany as a rhythmic gymnast at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Leroy’s 21-year-old elder brother, Kim, has had trials with FC Koln this summer.
His little brother Sidi, 13, is in the Schalke academy and some observers believe his natural talent is greater even than that of Leroy’s. German media had suggested that Sidi would join his big brother in Manchester but City insist that, for now, he will remain in Germany.
All three boys first trained at Wattenscheid, where their father played in the early Nineties.
‘They are a family of real sporting prowess,’ says Hermann Heroven, the academy manager. ‘The dad was a powerful and speedy footballer. His mother was a gymnast, refined and delicate. When you bring those two together, it is clear the genetics can produce something rather special. Leroy is clearly magical. He would score 50 or 60 goals a season here. He was extremely good. But he is a fighter, too. The whole family are.
‘When the father Souleymane played here, he suffered the most terrible racist abuse. If we played away at Hamburg or Frankfurt, there would be bananas thrown on to the pitch, monkey gestures and the “ooh-ooh-aah-aahs” directed at him. Souleymane never confronted the fans and was extraordinarily tolerant. He did his talking on the pitch. The Federation at the time did very little, immigration was a new thing. It would never be allowed to happen these days and, thankfully, the boys have never had a problem.’
At the age of eight, young Leroy left Wattenscheid for Schalke. ‘He has a brilliant left foot,’ says Ruhnert.
‘This sets him apart. He is special because of his age and his speed. If you stop him between 0 and 50 metres, he’s as fast as the others. But if you do it from 0 to 35 metres with the ball at his feet, I don’t think you will find any other player with the same speed and quality. All the spectators in the arena get off their feet and that is exciting and why you pay to watch football.
‘A young Ryan Giggs is a good comparison. Giggs could play everywhere on the pitch, he was always moving. Leroy is a little more old-fashioned, like Giggs at the beginning. Leroy is on the wing and he stays on the wing, he likes to have the chalk on his boots.
‘He can also play behind the strikers. It’s a question of age. If you want to play at Manchester City at his age, normally the best way to get in would be to play out wide at the start. After a while, he will play in behind. He is so fast that you can’t stop him.’
There is also another Sane brother, Sidi (not pictured) who is said to be a great prospect
In November 2014, Sane made his first-team debut and gradually began to make an impact. Schalke, however, were insistent that his first-team duties should be blended with academy commitments.
‘There was one situation where he was on the bench with the professionals,’ adds Ruhnert. ‘The day after, he was pencilled in to play for the Under 19 team. After five minutes, our coach was shouting “Leroy, what’s going on? Move! Get going!”
‘He was so lazy that day and our coach could see he had the wrong spirit. So after 10 minutes, he was hauled off. Then, we had a very big discussion. We sat in the meeting room of the academy with his coach and his father and there were strong words. He responded extremely well.
‘Eight weeks later, we won the youth championship in the Under 19 age group. We played on a Saturday in Hamburg and two days later, we played a final against Hoffenheim. He was the best player that day, we won 3-1. Leroy was man of the match. Our biggest aim was to show him it is a team sport and not an individual one. That game was eight to 10 weeks after our discussion and we felt very proud and vindicated.’
On his Champions League debut in March 2015 he came on as a substitute against Real Madrid and scored a glorious goal past Iker Casillas in a 4-3 victory for Schalke.
City’s pursuit has been a long time in the making. Last season, scouts and video analysis experts pored over footage from every Schalke game, as Sane became an undisputed starter and scored nine goals in 42 appearances.
Patrick Vieira raved about him and when Guardiola arrived this summer he confirmed the view of City’s scouts. Sporting director Txiki Begiristain accelerated the pursuit.
Now the onus is on Sane to write the greatest chapter yet into his family’s sporting success.
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Souyleman Sane and his sons, Leroy (Left) and Kim (right) in 2007

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