An exclusive interview with the rising Hoffenheim star
Like Ousmane Dembélé or Eduardo Camavinga before him, Georginio Rutter could have made his mark at Stade Rennais and played a couple of seasons in Ligue 1, before making the move abroad. But after scoring a Champions League goal for Rennes on his first – and only – appearance in the competition (to date), the Breton boy chose an alternative path.
He left home for Hoffenheim in the winter of 2021, and he hasn’t looked back since.
Some fifteen months later, Rutter has no regrets. In that time, the 20-year-old has played 42 Bundesliga games for Hoffenheim, scoring 9 goals and providing 4 assists. “I didn’t think it would happen this fast,” admits the youngster who played in all but one of Hoffenheim’s league games this season, after a few months of adaptation last year.
What instantly stands out about the Frenchman is his physical condition: Rutter rarely gets injured. He is known to be extremely relaxed on and off the pitch – could that be a factor?
We cannot say for certain, but his easy-going nature quickly becomes clear when you chat with the Plescop native, a small commune just outside the seaside town of Vannes. He gives the feeling of being in tune with himself, while managing to mix humility with a strong sense of determination.
Celebrating against Greuther Fürth
“I don’t necessarily realise what I’m showing on the pitch, the emotions that I give to the fans,” the French forward explains. “Sometimes, people tell me that I’m strong, that I’m a future top player, but I don’t think about that. I don’t always realise what I represent and that can actually help.”
“To my mind, I’m a young player who scored seven goals [at the time of the interview] in a top league – that’s it!” Rutter is resolute in his unpresuming mindset: “We have seen too many talents do nothing afterwards, so I’d rather stay calm and keep my feet on the ground. What I do know is that Hoffenheim is a perfect place to grow.”
Growing up with Stade Rennais
His calm, yet ambitious nature has surely stemmed from Rennes, the academy that helped nurture him. At least that’s what Rutter thinks: “The level is so high within the various categories that you can’t relax, thinking that you are the best.”
For example, Real Madrid’s Eduardo Camavinga wasn’t even considered the best player in his age group when the two boys used to play together. Stade Rennais undoubtedly represents the elite among the French academies. And it was there where Rutter perfected his technique and movement, two elements that make him the precious counter-attacking threat we’ve seen so often in the Bundesliga.
A list of Stade Rennais’ recent academy products, which includes Ousmane Dembélé, Georginio Rutter and Mathys Tel
But when asked to define what type of player he is, the Frenchman struggles to pinpoint his rounded skill set. One player who he has been compared to is former Hoffenheim forward Roberto Firmino, of whom Rutter is a big fan.
“He wrote the history of Hoffenheim and I love his creativity. I can play with my back to goal when needed (to help the team push up), but I also like to drift out wide and attack spaces as a winger. I’m a mix of all that.”
“But I would say that things can change depending on the team you play for and what is happening during the game. I can also add that I’m a generous player – I run a lot.”
Among his positional peers, the 20-year-old currently sits in the 96th percentile for forward pressures (22.91 per 90) and in the 93rd percentile for tackles won (1.4 per 90). In an increasingly demanding modern game, those defensive numbers are a dream for any front-footed coach.
Rutter is also ambipedal, using his “stronger” left foot only 55% of the time (per FBRef) and has even taken penalties with his right foot – a quirky facet to his game also shared by former Rennes graduate Dembélé.
But when you ask him what areas he still needs to improve, the answers don’t take long to arrive. “Technically, I can still make progress but the most important thing now is learning not to rush, to gain efficiency in my final choices.”
Starting from the bottom
Playing under Sebastian Hoeneß, his former TSG coach who favoured attacking football, Rutter was regularly found in promising attacking situations – as both a shooter and creator. Progress should therefore not take long to materialise, especially since Hoffenheim develops their young players better than most. They have clear pathways for their prospects.
Upon joining from Rennes, Rutter initially started with the U-23 team before quickly stepping up to the senior side. “When I arrived, they asked me how long it had been since I played 90 minutes and it had been … an eternity,” Georginio recalls with a laugh.
“It made sense to start with the youth team. But even at that time, I was travelling with the first-team the day after my game with the young ones. It illustrates the work that is done here with us: they work on every single detail to make things go well.”
Many young players would have been frustrated to start their German adventure with the U-23s, but Rutter, who likes to go by the nickname of Georgi, doesn’t see things that way.
“It was easy for people to talk. At that time, some observers must have thought that I had made the wrong choice leaving Rennes. But what do they think today? That’s why I try to not pay too much attention to comments. Or if I do, I try to make it something positive.”
European drams & giant screns
So far, things are going quite well. In March, Rutter made his debut for the French U-21 side. In Clairefontaine, the famous national training centre, he reunited with Camavinga and Adrien Truffert who were both team-mates back in Bretagne.
“I thought I was back at Rennes,” Georginio recalls, bursting out laughing. And although he has not yet scored for Les Bleuets, we are expecting that to change quickly.
Indeed, the boy whose kindness and positive state of mind are highlighted by the Hoffenheim dressing room, he is also used to working hard and never settling with what he has.
“When you watch a Champions League game between Real Madrid and Manchester City, obviously you want to be on the pitch! I don’t know a single player who will tell you otherwise.”
In preparation of playing on the European stage again, Rutter makes the most of the modern training facilities at TSG during the week.
“Honestly, the environment [at Hoffenheim] is amazing. I have discovered things that I had never seen before here, we have this giant screen where the manager can project tactical content during our training sessions. It’s super useful, especially when you don’t know the language well yet.”
German lessons & Japanese anime
Picking up new languages is never easy but the 20-year-old has made progress, taking German lessons on an almost daily basis. To disconnect from football, he also loves playing Playstation and watching Japanese anime – Naruto; Hunter × Hunter; Demon Slayer and others.
Asked whether he misses home and the sea, which he lived close to on the north-western tip of France, Rutter is characteristically positive once again. “Honestly, Germany was a nice surprise,” he admits with a smile.
“I settled well and everybody is so kind to me. Now I really want to discover the whole country, to visit places. And on top of that, Germans taught me to be more rigorous with a lot of things because it’s rooted in mentalities here.”
Looking further down the line, what about making the leap to England and the Premier League? Rutter does not say no, but measures what remains to be done in order to follow in the footsteps of Firmino and Joelinton. “It makes us [young players] dream, it does,” he admits. “I still have a lot of work ahead of me here, though.”
Who knows what will happen next? Few can say. But having followed him throughout the season, with each performance adding excitement to his potential, chatting with the Frenchman for 40 minutes makes you certain of one thing: Georginio Rutter is on the right track.
We’d like to extend a huge thank you to Georginio for his time and TSG Hoffenheim for their access. If you wish to report any of these quotes, please credit Scouted Football and include a link to the original page.