'Go in Goal or Leave': How Marc Ter Stegen Became Barcelona's Number One

It was an ultimatum made to a 10-year-old Marc-Andre Ter Stegen 15 years ago in the west German city of Monchengladbach that saw him end up becoming Barcelona's first-choice goalkeeper.

Ter Stegen was developing through Borussia Monchengladbach's academy as a striker, having been signed up by his grandfather aged four years old.

The team's goalkeeper suffered from nose bleeds, and when they occurred it was Ter Stegen who ended up volunteering to take up the position that would land him at the Camp Nou.

"Afterwards our coach said either you leave the club, because he wasn't happy with my style of running, or you be goalkeeper," he told The Daily Telegraph. "Of course there was never a really big question for me. I felt good being in goal and happy to be around these people so it was never a question for me to leave the club and leave all the people I'd gotten to know during this time. I was 10 years old, I didn't want to go to another club."

After spending two years with the reserves, Ter Stegen was promoted to the first team and featured 108 times for the Bundesliga club before Barcelona came in for him in 2014.

Marc-Andre Ter Stegen
Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen at the Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain, October 14, 2017. Ter Stegen will line up for Barcelona against Chelsea in the Champions League. JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty

Ter Stegen doesn't regret that decision he made as a 10-year-old but suggests playing goalkeeper is the most pressured role in a team, given their importance in opposition chances.

"Every position is difficult but you're always involved in the biggest chances of the opponent, when there's a goal you're always involved," he says. "It's difficult to explain but this is the importance of the goalkeeper: he's always concentrated even if he's not running as much as other players. He always needs to be focused.

"As a goalkeeper, if you make 10 world-class saves but then miss one shot or you let in a pass, you're there in the highlights afterwards—and, let's be honest, that is what most people see."

So Ter Stegen will hope there are few highlights of the likes of Eden Hazard running at him on Tuesday night (February 20), as Barcelona are in London to face Chelsea.

The Spanish La Liga leaders have traveled to the English capital for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against the Premier League champions. The second leg takes place on March 14 at the Camp Nou.