Germany midfielder Serge Gnabry feared a radio station were playing a joke on him when boss Joachim Low called to tell him he was in the squad. The 21-year-old, who left Arsenal for Werder Bremen this summer, became the first player to score a hat-trick on his Germany debut in 40 years – in an 8-0 win away to San Marino. “The coach called me and I had to consider for a while whether it was real or not,” he told RND radio. “There have been a lot of these fake calls on the radio and I just didn’t want to be the next victim.”
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Andre Ayew, Riyad Mahrez, Sadio Mane and Yaya Toure make up the five-man shortlist for the BBC African Footballer of the Year award. The five candidates were revealed during a special live launch broadcast on Saturday. The winner will be decided by fans from across the world, who have until 7pm on 28 November to vote for their choice. Vote here.
Olivier Giroud says he has “no doubts over my Arsenal future”. The 30-year-old France player has missed a chunk of this season with a toe injury, with Alexis Sanchez impressing as a central striker. “At this time, the coach has opted for the solution of Sanchez leading the attack, partly because of my injury,” Giroud told French TV show Telefoot. “So I now hope to get more game time of course. The coach makes his own choices but I am counting on myself to come back strong and I will work hard to do so. “As with each year, there is competition for places at the big clubs. There are a lot of attackers with different styles of play. We have different profiles and can be used according to the team we are up against, but we can also be played together.”
Bosnia striker Edin Dzeko was sent off in a heated World Cup qualifying draw in Greece for pulling down the shorts of Kyriakos Papadopoulos. The Roma striker, 30, was on the floor in the 79th minute and with his side 1-0 up, held on to the ball, prompting Papadopoulos to wrestle it from him. Dzeko pulled the RB Leipzig defender’s shorts, earning a second booking. Papadopoulos got a straight red for pushing in the melee that followed, but his side levelled in the 95th minute.
When Hoffenheim unveiled Julian Nagelsmann as the Bundesliga’s youngest full-time boss in February, it was dismissed by local media as a “public relations stunt” and “a crackpot idea”. Nagelsmann was just 28 and had never coached at senior level, while Hoffenheim, a village with a population of just 3,300 in southern Germany, were deep in relegation trouble, seven points from safety and running out of games. What has followed in the past nine months is truly remarkable. Nagelsmann, now 29, kept them up and now Hoffenheim are one of only five teams in Europe’s five major leagues to remain unbeaten this season.