Felix Passlack will inevitably be mentioned in the same breath as Christian Pulisic by most BVB fans. The German teenager was frequently compared to former Dortmund prodigy Mario Gotze, and rose through the academy ranks as a crown jewel until Pulisic's arrival and similar rise. The two joined the first team together, both made their debuts in 2016, and have even become fast friends off the field, winning a B-Junioren Bundesliga championship along the way.
Fans are excited for Passlack, to be sure, but it's also hard to say that Pulisic hasn't eclipsed his fellow teenager just a little bit after the season he had with BVB. While Pulisic became a trusted member of the squad, inserted into lineups in increasingly more tense situations by Thomas Tuchel, and became the youngest ever scorer of multiple Bundesliga goals, Passlack's shifts with the first team were more of depth, reliability, and utility, seeing time as both a left back and on the wing. But to measure Passlack's accomplishments by Pulisic's achievements would be a gross error, as Passlack continues to find his way onto the field the same way he always has: with hard work and willingness to force his way through wherever the greatest need lies.
Passlack's promotion to the first team was not without its fanfare, as was his first appearance for Dortmund, included from the start against an always rough-and-tumble Darmstadt squad. Simply put: he belonged on that field, looking bright in attack and sharp in possession, while not shirking from his defensive duties as well. Throughout his three competitive appearances with the first team, Passlack continued to impress with his ability to comfortably play the game at such a young age and with his highest previous experience at the U-19 level. Despite being a diminuitive 5'6", he looks the part on the field, and uses his strength and low center of gravity to fight through challenges and make tackles on the ball.
While his play with the senior team turned heads and proved yet another feather in the academy's cap, his performances with the youth team showed yet again how invaluable he can be at almost any position on the field. Playing in the center of the midfield or high and wide in a 4-3-3, Passlack's goal and assist tallies are nothing short of gaudy, and while short in stature, confidently captain's his side.
His youth exploits culminated this season in a Bundesliga A-Junioren title, the third Bundesliga championship for this age group at Dortmund's academy and first at the U-19 level. Making the feat even more impressive was the fact that most players in this U-19 side were playing at this age level for the first time this season, having won the B-Junioren championship (U-17) just last year. Passlack captained the side in the semis and the final, where he tallied a goal and two assists, in addition to a couple hockey assists in the 5-2 victory over Hoffenheim's U-19s.
Passlack was vital to every facet of Dortmund's attack on the day, as he's been for the greater part of the last four or five years at his age level, and his unwillingness to bend or break in big moments is one that will undoubtedly carry him to the captain's armband of the first team one day. Christian Pulisic may get all the big headlines for his play with the first team, but Passlack bleeds black and yellow, and will be one of Dortmund's most important players in the years to come.