David Otto: Teaching on hold as sporting career takes off

David Otto made his debut for the TSG Hoffenheim first team in a 1-1 draw against Bulgarian side Ludogorets in the Europa League last season. He has since become a regular fixture in the senior squad and has drawn praise with a couple of promising individual displays in pre-season.

Pre-season could have hardly gone better for David Otto. The striker has been included in the starting XI for both friendlies  against SpVgg Unterhaching and Queens Park Rangers − and looked convincing in each one: he set up two goals as TSG beat Unterhaching 3-0 and then scored twice − including a jaw-dropping scissor-kick − in the 2-2 draw with QPR. His performances have not escaped the attention of coach Julian Nagelsmann, who said: "The holiday really did David good, because his final exams, the U19 season and first-team training had really taken it out of him. He's boosted his energy and he's really holding his own. And of course, scoring two goals will have helped his chances personally."

In that respect, the striker has continued where he left off last season. Otto scored 27 goals and assisted another 14 in 22 A-Youth Bundesliga matches last term and was rewarded for his outstanding season when he made his senior debut. On 7 December, aged 18, he came off the bench after 75 minutes to replace Robin Hack in the 1-1 draw at Ludogorets in the Europa League. Around two months later, he signed a professional contract with TSG.

At "Hoffe" since U14 level

The striker is a shining example of the outstanding work done at the TSG Hoffenheim academy, where he started with the U14s and developed further as he progressed through the ranks. As captain, his goals fired the U19s to the Final Round of the German A-Youth Championship and, in November, the Pforzheim native was handed his debut for the Germany U19 team. Since January, he has been training with the TSG first team.

But the 19-year-old was unable to focus exclusively on football while he sat his final exams at school. Now, though, they are finished − Otto graduated from high school in summer 2017 with a score of 1.8 − and he has more time for sport. "I've been lucky that I never found learning too difficult. So the effort was manageable, I was never overburdened. But of course, my daily routine was to be in school in the morning, then to take the TSG bus to the training ground and return to Pforzheim in the evening. There wasn't much free time. That's why I'm happy I no longer have this stress. That's definitely a factor behind my improved performance, I'm more refreshed and can train more," said Otto in an interview with SPIELFELD.

Plan B "to become a teacher"

The youngster had even come up with a Plan B in case he didn't make it as a professional footballer − he would follow in the footsteps of both his parents and become a teacher. "When I used to be asked about a backup plan, I often said that I could envisage becoming a teacher too. And that's still the case now," he explained.

However, pre-season has shown that David Otto is fully focused on his career as a goalscorer at the moment. Becoming a teacher will have to remain Plan B.

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