Kevin Vogt is used to standing out. He has done so physically for many years – and still does at TSG Hoffenheim, where the 1.94m-tall man is the tallest outfield player in Julian Nagelsmann's squad. But since he joined the club in the summer of 2016, it is not only Vogt's physical attributes that have regularly set him apart. The Witten native has developed into one of the best defenders in the Bundesliga and the key man in the TSG defence, producing strong performances to guide the club into the Champions League proper for the first time.
Hence why it was extremely important for Hoffenheim to prematurely extend the 26-year-old's contract by a further two seasons. Both parties came together to sign the deal, which will keep Vogt at the club until 2022, on Tuesday – much to the delight of the fans and the Sporting Director Alexander Rosen. "Kevin has not only become one of the central figures at TSG, but he's also shown that he's of key value to us thanks to his outstanding build-up play and his tempo both in attack and defence." Vogt is equally delighted to sign the extension. "In the end both the possibilities for personal development and the ambitions of the club proved decisive for me. I believe we still have a lot to accomplish. Moreover, I'm happy and full of pride to bear responsibility for a team that brings joy to so many people due to the way it plays."
Captain's armband "a show of trust
Vogt, who enjoys a great deal of respect and recognition across the Bundesliga and in the media, moved up the internal ladder in pre-season when he was officially appointed captain by the team and the coaching staff, having previously carried out the role as a stand-in for former captain Eugen Polanski last term. For Vogt, the team's selection is a special honour. "It's a wonderful show of trust. We have exciting challenges ahead for us." His deputies are Benjamin Hübner and Oliver Baumann, while Ermin Bičakčić, Ádám Szalai and new signing Leo Bittencourt are additional members of the Team Council.
His new role will also see Vogt lead TSG onto the pitch in their debut Champions League campaign. Being a captain in Europe's elite club competition is a goal the defender worked towards with ambition and focus for many years. Now his "childhood dream" is about to come true and the excitement is barely describable, especially as the matches against Liverpool last year whetted the appetite for more experiences on the biggest stage in club football. "Hearing the Champions League anthem being played was extraordinary," said Vogt.
Excitement for the Champions League
"We got a taste for it last season, but the two matches against Liverpool weren't enough for us. That's why we continued to work on improving, reached a higher level and qualified for the group stages. Now we're looking forward to showing everybody what we can do on this stage," said Vogt.
Whether it's the top clubs from England, Juventus with Cristiano Ronaldo or the Spanish giants Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, there is no draw that would leave Vogt awestruck. Playing against the top teams in world football is what he has been aiming for: "Of course, there's an enormous respect there, but we have enough self-confidence to be able to say that we deserve to be in this competition and that we want to prove ourselves there. It's a special season coming up for us. The team and myself face even larger challenges than the ones we've had in recent years and we're looking forward to facing them."
"My most successful years as a professional"
Regardless of how the season pans out, the successes that have been achieved together have created a close bond between Vogt and TSG. The captain is thankful for his own personal development – "I've improved considerably over the previous two years and developed even further as a footballer" – as well as the sporting highlights and international experiences. "Hoffenheim will definitely always be a formative influence in my career. I've just had the two most successful and educational years as a professional footballer here and I've learned an awful lot from the coach. In addition, Heidelberg is a beautiful city, there are a lot of elements there that I really like and that'll always remain a positive memory for me." And one thing's for sure: there will be plenty more unforgettable moments to come before 2022.