“The youngsters from our youth academy are our future. We want to introduce them to the professional sector step by step and give them the opportunity to develop and establish themselves here,” said FC sporting director Horst Heldt. There have been several examples of how well this worked last season. Noah Katterbach played 18 games in the 2019/20 season and has been with 1. FC Köln since playing for the U8s and is therefore a real home grown talent. Ismail Jakobs has played 20 games and scored two goals. Jan Thielmann made his Bundesliga debut at the age of 17, Tim Lemperle featured in the last game of the season and Robert Voloder has been in the squad on three occasions.Of all people Noah – Noah Katterbach: 19-years-old, left-back Noah Katterbach’s FC career started with a youth trial. 120 children had participated but only two players were then invited to team training. Father Edwin Katterbach said: “They won’t take our Noah of all people” And yet, they took him. Over the years, the parents drove Noah countless times from Dreiborn to training at Geißbockheim, more than 70 kilometres away. Noah would do his homework on the journey so his school work did not suffer. Other clubs also became aware of the technically strong left-back. Noah resisted calls from Schalke and at the age of 18, made his debut against the coalminers. Noah’s whole family has FC in their heart. His mother, Yvonne Katterbach, works as a driver for the youth performance centre and therefore drives other talents to training who dream of becoming what Noah is now: a Bundesliga professional at 1. FC Köln. In June, the youth international extended his contract with FC until 2024.Nickname Iso – Ismail Jakobs: 20-years-old, left-winger Ismail Jakobs’ greatest weapon is his speed. Carefree and tireless, he uses his pace on the left-flank and has already scored two Bundesliga goals in his first season. Jakobs scored against Freiburg and Eintracht Frankfurt. His development at FC has been phenomenal. His performances for the U21 team earned him a place in the senior squad. At the end of 2017, Jakobs was already in the Europa League squad under Stefan Ruthenbeck. His politeness always made him popular with his youth coached. Iso is also a family man. His brother Mamadou will play for 1. FC Köln in the coming season. Iso supported Mamadou during his trial for the U15s, campaigning for FC to sign him and now the brothers can play with the Billy Goat on their chest.German Champion – Jan Thielmann: 18-years-old, Right-wing Jan Thielmann is one of the players who won the U17 German championship with 1. FC Köln in the 2018/19 season. In the semi-finals, FC knocked out Bayern Munich and beat Borussia Dortmund 3-2 in the final in a spectacular game. Meanwhile, Thielmann has gone one step further. He has already played 12 Bundesliga games this season. He made his professional debut at 17 against Bayer Leverkusen, becoming the second youngest debutant in FC history. He is ambitious and works relentlessly for team success. Before moving from Eintracht Trier to Cologne, Thielmann was already a huge FC fan. Still a student, he will graduate from school next year. His brother works at the Cologne sports boarding school, looking after top talents across sports in Cologne.Singing in the family blood – Tim Lemperle: 18-years-old, winger Many would rather forget the last Bundesliga game of the season at Werder Bremen. For Tim Lemperle however, this game was a special event. In the 75th minute, he made his Bundesliga debut. The 18-year-old winger is fast, technically strong and is becoming more physically robust. In his youth, he played for Jewish club TuS Makkabi Frankfurt despite he himself having no Jewish background. Even with great competition, Lemperle joined 1. FC Köln from FSV Frankfurt. It was convincing for him to join FC and to develop in a family atmosphere. His older brother plays rugby, his father is an architect and his mother is a singer.Championship winning captain – Robert Voloder: 19-years-old, defender Robert Voloder plays in central defence. He has a strong left foot and is good in the air. Last season, he led the U19 team to the German championship as captain and was part of the professional team against SC Paderborn, Borussia Mönchengladbach and 1. FSV Mainz 05. He joined from FSV Frankfurt and played central defence there in the U15 team alongside current teammate Sava Cestic. Despite his great potential, Voloder has been very modest on his journey to becoming a professional at FC. He played for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s youth team but decided to declare himself for the Germany U19 team. In the past season, both the U19 and U17 teams of 1. FC Köln became West German champions. The German championship title was not played due to the coronavirus pandemic. The basis of excellent training for talent exists at FC. Let’s see which young players will make the leap to the professional squad in the coming season.