The Unsung Hero of Barcelona: Marc-Andre Ter Stegen -Past, Present & Future.

11 min read
The unsung hero of Barcelona at camp Nou

The unsung hero of Barcelona at camp Nou

Barcelona is the home of the argued Greatest of all time, Lionel Messi. It has always been a matter of pride to comprehend Messi’s dominance in football in the Balgaurana colours. He is undoubtedly the most salient player in the field. But the question is, is he the only one who has saved Barcelona? Is he the only one who should be praised for selfless efforts for the club? Obviously not, there is one another unsung hero of Barcelona, who is doing his job just like Lionel Messi but not praised much. The underrated one, having the body of a goalkeeper and the brain of a central midfielder, Marc Andre Ter Stegen, The Unsung Hero of Barcelona.

The Evolution of Marc Andre Ter Stegen

The 28 years old German International spent his youth career in his home town club Borussia Mönchengladbach from 1996 to 2010. In the very beginning, Ter Stegen started as a striker and but later discovered himself superior at keeping. The stopper began his senior team career with the same club, making 108 appearances in four seasons. Before making debut for German National Senior Team in 2012, he played 49 matches for the junior national squad of Germany. He has been enlisted in the member of the senior team squad in several occasions like Euro Cup and World Cup in 2016 and 2018. He has represented Germany with only 24 appearances.

The Day When The Star Was Born

During season 2010-11, while Borussia Mönchengladbach was prone to the relegation, the German International got promoted to the senior team to replace his fellow goalie Logan Bailly who was having a terrible season. Ter Stegen delivered an outstanding performance during a match vs Borussia Dortmund making some impressive saves and helped the team to get the victory. With the help of goalie, the club avoided the relegation. In the following season, the goaltender was named the Best goalkeeper. Ever since then, Ter Stegen has never disappointed his fans.

Ter Stegen with teary eyes saying goodbye to Borussia Mönchengladbach fans.
Ter Stegen with teary eyes saying goodbye to Borussia Mönchengladbach fans.


After spending three full seasons in the club, he left the club for Spanish giant, Barcelona. The five-year contract deal was signed on May 22, 2014, with a transfer fee of 12M Euro. Ter stegen made his La Liga debut on Sept 12, 2015.

Ter Stegen appeared in all the matches of Champions League in his first season with Barcelona and played an important role to win the Treble in the same season. The stopper has won the ‘Best Save’ award for the wonderful save he made in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final Vs Bayern Munich.

During these years Ter stegen has displayed phenomenal performances. He saved a penalty in a Champions League match vs Celtic. His performance in the historic comeback against the Paris Saint-German in the pre-quarter of Champions League was also hugely praised by the football pundits. In the same season, the stopper made a record-breaking 12 saves in a single La Liga match against their well-known rival Real Madrid.

 During 17-18 season in the group stage matches of UEFA Champions League, he made 23 saves out of 24 shots on target with 96% save percentage, which is highest in the competition. Ter Stegen is the first Barcelona goalkeeper to provide an assist in the 21st century in La Liga. In a 19-20 season, he produced two assists to his teammates Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann.

                                    <img width="640" height="250" src="" alt="Ter Stegen&#039;s assist to Suarez&#039;s goal." srcset=";ssl=1 770w,;ssl=1 300w,;ssl=1 768w,;ssl=1 356w,;ssl=1 470w,;ssl=1 70w,;ssl=1 100w,;ssl=1 150w" sizes="(max-width: 640px) 100vw, 640px" />                                         
                                    <img width="640" height="177" src="" alt="Ter Stegen&#039;s assist to Griezman&#039;s goal." srcset=";ssl=1 990w,;ssl=1 300w,;ssl=1 768w,;ssl=1 356w,;ssl=1 470w,;ssl=1 70w,;ssl=1 100w,;ssl=1 150w" sizes="(max-width: 640px) 100vw, 640px" />                                           <figcaption>Ter Stegen's assist to Suraez and Griezman's goal.</figcaption>
    <p>After scoring a goal with an assist from Ter Stegen, Griezmann talked about the goal and the unsung hero of Barcelona, Ter Stegen. 

He said, “Marc is incredible, he’s good with his feet… he’s like a midfielder for us. It was a perfect pass that left me with just the goalkeeper to beat.”

The German International has appeared in 233 matches for the Football Club Barcelona and has made 590 saves with 96 clean sheets. Ter Stegen has 16 trophies including 4 La Liga, 1 Champions League, 4 Copa Del Rey & 1 Club World Cup.

National Team

Ter Stegen started his career with German Shirts since 2007-2008 in an Under-16 team. He has appeared in 49 matches with the junior squads. The goaltender had also denied the Penalty from the Argentine International Lionel Messi in his second international match against Argentina on Aug 15 2012. He has appeared in only 24 games in the senior team. 

He made his debut on May 26, 2012, in a friendly match against Switzerland. Ter Stegen was included in the squad for UEFA Euro 2016 but did not appear in any of the games. He was benched throughout the tournament. Meanwhile, he became the starter in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. Germany won the competition. As a cherry on the top, he was named “Man of the Match” in a final match vs Chile.

NOVEMBER 19: Marc-Andre ter Stegen of Germany on prior to the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
NOVEMBER 19: Marc-Andre ter Stegen of Germany (middle) on prior to the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

Despite his phenomenal performance with German National Team in various occasions and his consistent form with Barcelona, Ter Stegen has remained backup to Neuer in international football. Ter Stegen has been seen frustrated due to lack of minutes in international football. 

Once in a news conference, he said:

“There’s competition for places, and every player wants to play,” 

“That’s football. A lot of the time you’re happy, but there are also other feelings. I have expectations, and I have to express them”, he added.

Style of Play

Goalkeepers are the last line of defence and the first line of attack. Ter Stegen is an ideal example of it. Marc Andre Ter Stegen is also known as the modern sweeper-keeper for his excellency with both hands and feet. For a club like Barcelona, which creates the beauty of football from midfield, the playing style of the German International is a perfect match. His magnificent distribution and abilities with the ball have been out of the world.

Heat map of Ter Stegen 19-20 La Liga.
Heat map of Ter Stegen 19-20 La Liga.

The stopper is known for his ball distribution abilities, aerial, one-to-one decision making, quick cat-like reflexive saves, shots-stopping abilities and tactical moves. He is also surprisingly remarkable when it comes to saving penalties. The German international holds a robust positional sense. His expertise with precise distribution with both hands and feet has given him a title of ‘sweeper-keeper’ also known as ‘Cruyffian goalkeeper’.

Ter Stegen's connection with midfield and wings.

The Unsung Hero of Barcelona: Records after Records

The German International has become the routine saviour of the Football Club Barcelona. In the recent season with at Barcelona, Ter Stegen made 81 saves which are 2.25 per game and completed 1083 passes (30.08 per game). The saving percentage is even remarkable at champion’s league, which is 3.33 per game. While Umtiti is dealing with his injuries and Pique not displaying his best, Ter Stegen has been the pre-eminent man in the line of Barca defence this season. The matter of the fact is that the horrible defence of Barcelona should be blamed for the loss of La Liga Title. They are always indebted for astounding saves of Ter Stegen.

It has been said, “A team is only as good as its goalie”, and Barcelona is absolutely superior in that case. In the current La Liga Season 19-20, the gloves man broke his record that he set back in 2016 for the longest run without conceding a goal. He went 450 minutes without conceding any goal breaking the previous record of 442 minutes. He faced a club like Sevilla and Athletic club during this run. With the re-start of the season after the Corona Virus Outbreak, the unsung hero of Barcelona held his top performance up to the mark and displayed some magnificent saves.

The player has the second-best number of clean sheets (i.e. 64) in the domestic league. Not any current player has most successful passes than that of the German gloves man.  

In his total 58 appearances in the champion’s league, the stopper has set records after records. No keeper has kept more clean sheets (i.e. 26) than Ter Stegen in the competition. The goalie has made most saves (i.e. 156- four from penalties) in the competition. He is the best in the tournament to save shots from outside the box (i.e. 60) after Oblak (i.e. 66). He has set the record of most successful passes of 1292.

Ter Stegen is the leader who leads both on and off the field. He has a soft spot for every bit of this game. He enjoys giving his best, but he does not fancy the credit, which is the reason that he is the unsung hero of Barcelona and the ultimate saviour.

Is Ter Stegen the best goalkeeper in the world??

“I’m being called ‘Messi with gloves?’ I think he’s had a great level over many years. You shouldn’t compare yourself with that.”
                                                                                                                                       -Marc-Andre Ter Stegen

MATS has been ranked as the second-best goalkeeper in the “World’s Top Five Goalkeepers” after Alisson Becker, (Source: ahead of his rival team’s goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois. The Barca gloves man has left behind his country’s competitor, Manuel Neuer, who is nowhere in the list. Ter Stegen has been proclaimed as the best goalkeeper in the world by various reports after his magnificent displays on several occasions. He is the most decorated player in Europe’s Top Five Leagues in recent years.

The following overview of Ter Stegen’s goalkeeping attributes based on the player’s performance in the last two years explains it all:

Comparative stat of Ter Stegen and Jan Oblak as analyzed by
Comparative stat of Ter Stegen and Jan Oblak as analyzed by

Solo Stat of Ter Stegen as analyzed by Solo Stat of Ter Stegen as analyzed by

While making comparison of the goal-keeping abilities of Ter Stegen with another spectacular goalie of La Liga, Jan Oblak, it is clear that the German International has outclassed him in many aspects. Ter stegen is seen superior in terms of aerial, anticipation, and ball distribution. In the recent season Ter Stegen has saved 85% of the shots from outside the box, compared to 82% for Oblak. Ter stegen is better by distance when it comes to the distribution of ball.

Ter Stegen is sometimes even compared to Thibaut Courtois. Also, with Courtois, Ter Stegen has been superior in terms of ball distribution, aerial, positional error, positive outcomes, and passes into dangers. Ter Stegen has saved almost 26 per cent penalties in his career, while the Real Madrid Man, Thibaut Courtois has collected only 16 percentage.

Ter Stegen impressed the football world, making remarkable two assists this season with his phenomenal ball distribution. In that aspect, Thibaut Courtois and Oblak are immeasurably behind him.

In an interview, Jordi Masip, Ter Stegen’s backup during 2016-17 season said: “Well, I’m clearly leaning towards Ter Stegen. For me, he is the best because he encompasses all facets of the game.”

The following statistics presented by also shows why the Stopper is The Unsung Hero of Barcelona been in recent years:

Statistical record of Ter Stegen of last two years. Source: Statsbomb
Statistical record of Ter Stegen of last two years. Source: Statsbomb

He passes the ball to teammates in dangerous positions just 8% of the time, which is almost half the league average of 15%. He is excellent at tempting opponents to press and build his move from the back. Even though his shot-stopping ability has fallen off from the previous season, he has improved his passes. He has got an outstanding passing percentage, 86, which is the best in the league for keepers. The stopper became the first runner-up in the Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper 2019 Award.

Thibaut Courtois may possess better shot-stopping ability, but it’s all about what you ask with a keeper? Stopping the shots is no more enough in modern football. With the development of advanced techniques, the responsibilities of goalkeepers have increased. They are expected to link up with every player in the field. Now goalkeepers are expected to break the opposition defence through quick long passes, build-up a play from very deep, initiate the counter-attacks and so on. And with all these inbuilt abilities, Ter Stegen is the Maestro when it comes to play football out from the back. 

In a new Flick Sports  Live game chat application poll conducted by BarçaTimes, Ter Stegen was voted as this season’s most important man in Barcelona after Messi with 97% of votes in the germans favour. 

TraNsfer Rumours & His future with barcelona

MATS has been linked with various transfer rumours since the beginning. Before he joined Barcelona, he was linked with the clubs like Juventus, Arsenal and Paris Saint-German.

Recently Ter Stegen has been linked with the transfer rumours with Chelsea. However, he is one of the players who has got the Barca DNA coursing through his veins. So everyone is of the stance that he will be there at the Camp Nou until the end. Moreover, renewing the contract of Ter Stegen is a matter of priority in this summer with upgraded terms amid the financial cataclysm resulted by Covid-19.  In an interview via Instagram Ter Stegen Said, “I am very happy in Barcelona, and the sporting situation is good, the team is doing well. What more can I ask for?

Ter Stegen in a Barcelona Jersey
Unsung Hero of Barcelona: Ter Stegen in a Barcelona Jersey

Things that hurt more than the Dives

Goalkeeping is such a position in football which is always an underrated one. Goalkeepers do not get much credit. They are less talked for all the saves they make throughout the season, but their few mistakes once in a year are excessively hyped and criticized. You may think it’s the goalies’ fault, but it can’t be if got past the Defense, Midfield and the Strikers.

“Goalies almost never get credit for winning a game, but they always get blamed for losing a game.”
                                                                                                                                                             -Steve Carrel

Unsung Hero of Barcelona: Ter Stegen after conceding goal with own mistake vs Real Betis.
Ter Stegen after conceding goal with own mistake vs Real Betis.

During 18-19 season, the goaltender made a decisive mistake resulting in Barça Loss of 4-3 to Real Betis at home. He was criticized for many days, and he had to post a solitary picture in an Instagram saying “It moves on…”

View this post on Instagram

It moves on…

A post shared by Marc ter Stegen (@mterstegen1) on

These are the times when the unsung hero of Barcelona expects moral support from cules all over the world.

        <h4>To Sum Up</h4>      
    <p>Ter Stegen has been one of the most crucial men in the Balgaurana Colors. He is the man who flies. Ter Stegen is the real wall of Barcelona, the wall which has saved numerous shots, the same wall which has witnessed the number of victories in the field. He is the unsung hero of Barcelona and the ultimate saviour who can fight like a warrior to protect the club's glorious history. Let's not take him for granted. Let him not remain the unsung hero of Barcelona. Let's sing his endeavour and his love towards the club.</p><h6><em>Visca El Barca !</em></h6><h6><em>Visca El Ter Stegen !!</em></h6>

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