Gündogan Awards: Mats Hummels, Alyssa Naeher, Luis Suárez head the class of 2023-24

The defining image of the 2023-24 UEFA Champions League might end up being Mats Hummels doing something heroic. There he is, making a perfectly timed block of a dangerous shot. There he is, tackling the ball away from a threatening situation. There he is, quarterbacking the high-wire act that is Borussia Dortmund's buildup play. There he is, scoring a damn goal in the semifinals.

Hummels is obviously not solely responsible for Borussia Dortmund's stunning run to the final -- goalkeeper Gregor Kobel has been brilliant when necessary, winger Jadon Sancho had PSG on a string for much of the semifinals, forward Niclas Füllkrug has scored huge goals in two of the team's last three matches. But he's the MVP.

He's also 35. He was one of BVB's best players when they last made the Champions League final 11 years ago. His minutes have been down in league play of late, as BVB's season has come to be wholly defined by the Champions League.

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But he's played every minute of Europe's biggest competition, and he leads his team in everything from touches and pass attempts to progressive carries and progressive passes to ball recoveries and defensive interventions. This Champions League run has become one of the defining moments of his career, and he's had a hell of a career. He is the perfect prime inductee for this year's Gündogan Awards.

What are the Gündogan Awards? They are a celebration of players who seem to be finding a new level at an advanced stage in their careers. They are of course named after Ilkay Gündogan -- Hummels' teammate during BVB's 2012-13 Champions League run -- who evolved into the perfect Swiss Army Knife and had recently added goalscoring to his repertoire when I first made this post in 2021.

Initially, I looked at players who were 27 or older. The members of this year's class are all in their respective 30s.

Here are the first three classes of Gündogan inductees. (Prime inductees in bold.)


Benjamin Andre (Lille), Casemiro (Real Madrid), Sebastian Coates (Sporting CP), Liam Cooper (Leeds United), Juan Cuadrado (Juventus), Andy Delort (Montpellier), Magnus Wolff Eikrem (Molde), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund), Ilkay Gündogan (Manchester City), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Sam Mewis (Manchester City), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Roma), Gerard Moreno (Villarreal), Willi Orban (RB Leipzig)
-- Lifetime achievement: Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Ciro Immobile (Lazio)


Georgios Athanasiadis (Sheriff Tiraspol), Sofiane Boufal (Angers), Antonio Candreva (Sampdoria), Diego and Yimmi Chara (Portland Timbers), Edin Dzeko (Inter), Sebastien Haller (Ajax), Kim Little (Arsenal), Joel Matip (Liverpool), Anthony Modeste (Cologne), Iker Muniain (Athletic Club), Dimitri Payet (Marseille), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Oscar Trejo (Rayo Vallecano), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)
-- Lifetime achievement: the entire Real Madrid midfield


Rémy Cabella (Lille), German Cano (Fluminense), Kenza Dali (Aston Villa), Rachel Daly (Aston Villa), Niclas Füllkrug (Werder Bremen), Galatasaray (the whole team), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Pascal Groß (Brighton), Joselu (Espanyol), Rani Khedira (Union Berlin), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave), Amir Rrahmani (Napoli), Mário Rui (Napoli), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Enner Valencia (Fenerbahce)
-- Lifetime achievement: Ilkay Gündogan

Now here are the 14 members of this year's class.