Connect in the back of the net

If the age-old adage ‘patience pays’ can be used with reference to a football player  then that would perfectly describe Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the Borussia Dortmund forward or winger. The French-born Gabonese endured a lot of ‘footballing pain’ to be where he is right now.

Christened after his father, Aubameyang has risen through the football ranks to establish himself as a quick and lethal forward who can also be effective as a winger with current club Borussia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga.

Having begun his playing career with AC Milan in the Italian Serie A, Aubameyang endured the footballing pain of being loaned to four French clubs (Dijon, Lyon, Lille and St Étienne) by Milan so that he would perfect his football skills to reach the levels required at a top club like Milan.

Not many players enjoy being loaned out but Aubameyang remained patient still in that ordeal. The fact that he was still a teenager then indicates his tenacity.

 

Turning point

However, in a strange twist of events in the year 2011 AC Milan decided to sell Aubameyang permanently to French side St-Étienne.

He hit a blue patch there and in 2013 after leading St Étienne to victory in the 2013 Coupe de la Ligue final, Borussia Dortmund snapped him up and he has never looked back since then.

At Dortmund, Aubameyang has established himself as an effective forward known for his lightning speed and goal scoring prowess. In one game while playing for his current club, he clocked 30 metres in 3.7 seconds something which would make the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt green with envy!

Aubameyang’s success at Borussia Dortmund has not gone unnoticed as in 2015 he became the first Gabonese player to win the CAF African Footballer of the Year award, which is quite an achievement considering the rich talent of  football players that the African continent has brought to the top flight leagues in Europe.

In winning that award Aubameyang was pitted against the current midfield powerhouses plying their trade in the English Premiership, namely Yaya Toure of Manchester City and Andre Ayew of West Ham United.

In 2016, one of the most respected newspapers in the United Kingdom, The Guardian, named Aubameyang as the 8th best footballer in the world.

 

Blossoming at Dortmund

Aubameyang blossomed at Borussia Dortmund in the 2014-15 season when he netted 25 goals from 46 appearances after making his Bundesliga debut in the previous season. His form continued in the 2015-16 as he banged in 35 goals in all competitions finishing the season only behind Robert Lewandowski on the top goal scorers’ chart.

In the same season, Aubameyang signed a contract extension with Dortmund expiring in 2020 while vowing his loyalty to that club to end speculation of him leaving.

In the current 2016-17 Bundesliga season, Aubameyang has — at the time of writing — netted 37 goals in 47 appearances for club and country, adding to his growing reputation as one of Europe’s top strikers.

This goal tally includes several hat-tricks notably on the 4th of March 2017 where he banged them in a 4–0 win over Portuguese side Benfica to put Borussia Dortmund into the quarterfinals  of the Champions League.

 

Idolized in Gabon

On the international scale, Aubameyang is idolized in his native Gabon.

Since his debut in 2009, he has never failed to represent his nation and is his country’s leading goal scorer with 19 goals from 48 caps. Since 2015 he has been the captain of his national team following in the footsteps of his father, Pierre Aubameyang Sr, who was also the captain of the Gabonese national team in his heyday.

The highlights of his international career, include but are not limited to: being a key member of the Gabon national side that reached the quarterfinals of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations as co-hosts of the competition. He netted three goals in total, finishing the tournament as one of the top scorers.

In July 2012, Aubameyang represented Gabon at the 2012 Olympic Games held in London. He scored in the team’s opening game against Switzerland, which was Gabon’s first-ever Olympic goal, and would also prove to be Gabon’s only goal of the tournament as they got eliminated early in the tournament.

 

A wanted man

As the current top leagues are approaching the end of their seasons, the transfer rumor mill has been rolling without a hitch with Aubameyang linked with elite sides such as Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool (coached by Jurgen Klopp who coached Aubameyang at Dortmund), Real Madrid and French Ligue 1 giants Paris St Germain.

It remains to be seen whether Aubameyang will remain at Borussia Dortmund or he will decide to move on, seeing that he is now worth over €65 million. For a player who only cost Borussia Dortmund €15 million, the meteoric rise in his value can only be attributed to his accuracy in front of goal.

 

Written by Spencer Joubert

Follow Spencer on Twitter @SpencerJoubert

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