The story of Yusuf Demir, the “Austrian Messi” who became the sensation of the summer at Barcelona

Yusuf Demir, the young Austrian who was wanted by the greats of Europe but who decided to play in Barcelona.
Yusuf Demir, the young Austrian who was wanted by the greats of Europe but who decided to play in Barcelona.

There are players touched by the magic wand, who appear in the place and at the right time. This seems to be the case with Yusuf Demir, considered “The Austrian Messi”, who at eighteen is becoming the sensation of the summer with the t-shirt ofl Football Club Barcelona, just when the Catalans have just lost nothing less than the great Argentine star.

After his appearance before the general public in a traditional international youth tournament in Germany when he was barely fifteen years old, and sought by the main clubs in the world as Manchester City, Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen or Roma, The young Austrian of Turkish origin ended up being loaned out by his home club, the Rapid of Vienna, to Barcelona last July on a loan for 500,000 euros and with an option of 10 million euros at the end of this season.

Yusuf demir born in Vienna on June 2, 2003 in the bosom of a family that came to Austria from Trabzon, Turkey, two decades ago and it was so clear that the boy had a special talent with the ball that his father Hasan, a waiter in a restaurant, used to return home with a stack of cards that were handed to him by different scouts from Italy, England, Germany and Spain to sign him for youth teams, although he knew that his son’s dream was to be signed by the team of his loves, Rapid from the Austrian capital.

At home, both his father and mother (a supermarket employee), his brothers, like the rest of the family, knew that he lived for football and that his great idol was always Lionel Messi, so it seems fair to arrive at Barcelona to symbolically take his post. “His girlfriend was always the ball”, his cousin Emre Kuvvet said recently. Two other brothers of this one also play soccer, Berke at SV Gerasdorf / Stammersdorf, and Kerim, at Besiktas JK from Vienna. Furkan, Yusuf’s brother, is also a footballer and in the same team where his brother started, the Fast, although in the sub-18 category.

Of course Yusuf has had a representative, Emre Öztürk, who once confessed to English TV “Sky” that when the father asked him to take care of his son’s affairs, when he was only 14 years old, he first found it complicated and made excuses, but when he agreed to watch him play, it took him a few minutes to offer himself to be his agent. “I was quick to say that I would do anything to work with this guy because anyone who is so extraordinary needs an agent,” he said.

Yusuf Demir as captain of the Austrian youth team
Yusuf Demir as captain of the Austrian youth team

It was Öztürk who shattered the illusion of so many major European clubs when Yusuf shone at the German youth tournament and sparked so much interest when he realized that “He is a great Messi fan and what he dreams of is to play for Barcelona one day.”

At Rapid, the club of his loves, Yusuf Demir felt comfortable from the beginning. It is a club that uses the management model of the Red Bull Salzburg, who was the one who created players like the Norwegian Erling haaland or the hungarian Dominik Szoboszlai, Emerging figures of European football, to whom he ended up transferring for 20 million euros each.

In 2013, at the age of ten, Yusuf entered the lower divisions of Rapid and his rise was meteoric, to such an extent that on May 26, 2019, at just fifteen years old, and already being observed sideways by many clubs, he signed his first professional contract and already debuted in the first team on December 14 in the 3-0 that his team gave to the Admire, and scored his first goal in a 1-2 loss to Ghent from Belgium for the third qualifying round at Champions League 2020/21. At that time, and it is not a minor detail, he entered nine minutes from the end and was able to score on the hour, with just nine minutes on the court.

That day he had 17 years, 3 months and 13 days so became the youngest ever goalscorer in Austrian football beating the record of Gerd Wimmer, He was 17 years, 10 months and 27 days old when he scored his goal on December 6, 1994 for Admira in their 2-1 loss to Juventus.

But the moment of his takeoff as a possible great star of the future was during the traditional German U19 tournament. “Mercedes Cup”, that is played in Sindelfingen, in which he was elected best player for two consecutive years. “Rarely have I seen someone who carries the ball so close to the foot and distributes so well”, then said an impressed Toni Polster, the top scorer in the history of the Austrian team.

The young Austrian of Turkish origin ended up being loaned by his home club, Rapid Vienna, to Barcelona
The young Austrian of Turkish origin ended up being loaned by his home club, Rapid Vienna, to Barcelona

However, when the tournament ended, Yusuf preferred to continue betting on Rapid. Zoran Barisic, the club manager then highlighted the boy’s gesture. “With my predecessor in charge, Fredy Bickel, Rapid II sporting director and club academy Willi Schuldes, talent director Steffen Hofmann, and head coach Didi Kühbauer, we are all convinced that it is an extraordinary talent and that then the best thing is not to pressure him and to take one step at a time ”.

Barisic admitted that they feared losing him due to the amount of offers from other clubs “but we are happy that he decided to stay with us at Rapid because He has incredible potential and it’s a pleasure to watch him play football. “ “In each training you can see how extraordinary it is,” said Hofmann, who explained that he has “An outstanding technique and a great left foot”. For his part, Schudes indicated that both Yusuf and another young man from the lower divisions, Leo Greimi “They are our two greatest hopes.”

“I love this club and the first dream of my childhood was fulfilled, which was to play here”Then said Yusuf, 1.73 meters tall, who scored a goal in eleven games in Rapid II to be called up to the first team and to be in the main squad, in which he scored another nine goals in 38 games.

Already in the main team of Rapid, his performance was so spectacular that soon after he was called up for the national team and immediately the fans began to think about a future of star following in the footsteps of others such as Matthías Sindelar, Andreas Herzog, Karl Zischek, Josef Bican, Herbert Prohaska, Ernst Happel, Hans Krankl, the defender David praise or the still forward Marko Arnautovic.

I had already participated in the youth teams in which he scored 20 goals in 28 games, playing from the U-15 onwards, until his debut in the senior team took place on March 28 against Faroe Islands for the classification to Qatar World Cup.

If your next wish, after wearing the Rapid jersey, was to play in the Barcelona, It was not surprising that on July 9, the agreement with the Catalan club was produced in the condition of a loan for one year with a purchase option, and with the intention to start at Barcelona B in the tournament Spanish Third Division. He was the second Austrian in the Catalan club after Krankl, who arrived after his very good performance in the World 1978.

Yusuf Demir playing against England's Arsenal for the Europa League
Yusuf Demir playing against England’s Arsenal for the Europa League

The one who commented at the Barça club about the possible appearance of a great star, who also admired Messi, was the former striker Bojan Krkic, who notified the technical secretariat shortly after leaving the talent detection department due to the restructuring that took place due to the leadership change after the elections.

In April 2020, Krkic alerted his superiors Eric Abidal and Ramón Planes about a Rapid Vienna footballer called to be a great sensation, and he also did it with another former club player, Josep Mari Bakero, in charge of matters related to Barcelona B, for which he accompanied videos and reports.

Planes, already without Krkic in office, sent one of the Scouters from Barcelona in Andalusia to observe Yusuf live, and when the first reports arrived in September, everything was rushed when everyone noticed that his way of playing fitted in perfectly with the club’s tradition.

Everything indicated that he would go to play for Barcelona B, but just as it happened in 2020 with the arrival of Pedri, Yusuf captivated the Dutch from the start Ronald Koeman, coach of the main team, and already included him in the friendly against the Nastic of Tarragona, and after three minutes he had already made his first shot on goal.

On July 31, he was able to score his first goal at 3-0 in another friendly against him. Stuttgart, when he took advantage of a Antoine Griezmann. The sports diary “Ace” de Madrid said in his commentary on the match that it was about “A cheeky kid” and was acclaimed by those attending the Red Bull Arena when he came out on the court averaging the second half.

So it was not surprising that Koeman would include him again, now as a starter, in Sunday’s game at the stadium Johan cruyff of the Barcelona sports city before the Juventus in the 3-0 triumph for the traditional Joan Gamper Cup. At 3 minutes, a great pass from him generated the first goal of Memphis Depay. It was not another day, but one of the saddest in the history of the Catalans, that of the farewell to Lionel messi after 21 years. Perhaps, without knowing it, Yusuf Demir was taking his post.

Demir, on the occasion of the friendly between Barcelona and Juventus, for the Joan Gamper trophy (REUTERS / Albert Gea)
Demir, on the occasion of the friendly between Barcelona and Juventus, for the Joan Gamper trophy (REUTERS / Albert Gea)