By Oliver Trust
By now, Serge Gnabry’s stirring-the-pot celebration might be as famous as his explosiveness in the opponent’s half.
After his eighth and ninth Champions League goals of the current campaign, the 25-year-old is now only one step away from glory.
In his typical way, the Bayern Munich forward secured his side’s place in Sunday’s final against Paris Saint-Germain by scoring two goals in the 3-0 semifinal win over surprise package Lyon.
The former Arsenal player’s 2019/20 goal record is as impressive as his sprints are fast.
Gnabry scored four when Bayern crushed Tottenham 7-2, and then he delivered two in a 3-0 win against Chelsea, one in Bayern’s 8-2 rout of Barcelona, followed by his double against Lyon.
“We want to prove we are Europe’s best side,” he had said ahead of the Lyon match. Seven years after their 2013 triumph, the Bavarians are on their way to repeating their treble-winning season.
Beating the French side was hard work, but Gnabry again managed to provide his share. The forward seems to like going the hard way.
To play in Bayern’s shirt has been in his mind since his early days. “It was the best club when I started to play football as a child. It took me a while to make my dreams come true.”
He was 12 when he joined VfB Stuttgart’s youth system. Within a further four years, he was on his way to Arsenal and the Premier League.
“I’m glad about how it’s turned out,” says Gnabry, who has since returned to Germany and become one of Bayern’s stars.
“The way I’ve taken made me what I am and who I am today,” he claims.
He spent four years at Arsenal, including one year on loan at West Bromwich Albion, before leaving to join Werder Bremen shortly after his 21st birthday.
Gnabry’s father, Jean-Hermann, traveled with him to London, accompanying his son on his challenging journey just as he did when he would drive him to training as a child and deliver constructive feedback.
But it was still a transitional time in the teenager’s life. He missed the rest of his family, friends, and even a lot of time at school.
“I had rather hard times,” Gnabry admits. “English football is quite a lot tougher, but you have to adapt to that if you want to make it.”
Battling for fitness after injuries, Gnabry was shipped out on loan to West Brom, where he made just a single Premier League appearance.
“It was after the West Brom spell,” said Gnabry about his decision to return to his home country. “I knew that I needed to show up again at a high level.”
He didn’t see chances to play at Arsenal and instead put his hopes on returning to the Bundesliga.
It is striking that his decision paid off. Doubter Gnabry turned into a winner.