My career in pictures
I was born and grew up in Bochum Querenburg with my 3 older sisters.
My kindergarten is 200m in one direction. On the other side of the street is my primary school and directly behind it in the forest is my first football club. The area was and still is not the best. The crime rate is very high but looking back I can't imagine a better childhood. We lived in an 18-story block and always had endless friends playing in front of the house. During the holidays we played all day on a concrete square in front of the house with 10-20 children and when the street lights came on in the evening we had to go home.
I have loved the ball ever since I could walk and when I was 3 years old my parents enrolled me at TuS Querenburg. I trained twice a week and played football in front of the house with the older people every day. For me there was never anything else but playing outside. I was never interested in Playstation, GameBoy or anything like that.
When I was 7 years old, a team canceled a tournament in Bochum and our team stepped in. We had Vfl Bochum in the group and after the game the coach came to my mother and asked if I would like to come to training to see if I liked it. Of course, it was immediately clear to me that I wanted to go to the best club in the city. So I moved to Vfl Bochum when I was 7 years old. Every little boy said I wanted to be a professional footballer but for me there has really never been anything else.
🇩🇪 Selection player
From the U13 onwards, I was part of the Westphalia team with players like Mario Götze and Stefan Ortega Moreno. In the U15 the national team came but it wasn't enough for me at the time. You have to say very clearly that players like Mario Götze and the other national players were simply a class better than me. Because me and a few colleagues in the U15 Westphalia team did too much shit, I was no longer invited to the U16 and U17 teams. But because of my performance in the U19 at Vfl Bochum and a change of coach in the selection, I finally received an invitation again. At the national cup, the DFB coach noticed me and then invited me to the DFB's U18 screening training. I was able to impress there too and was invited to the subsequent international trip to Israel two weeks later. But unfortunately I seriously injured myself for the first time on the last day playing football tennis.
📖 Don't feel like going to school anymore
I have to say I was never a good student and my behavior didn't make it any easier for me with the teachers. Except for the sports teachers, most of them were happy when I wasn't there and nobody disturbed the lesson. My parents' education was extremely important to me and my sisters. That's why I went to high school after elementary school. I started the 5th grade with Latin as a foreign language, English was added in the 6th and French from the 7th grade. I can tell you straight away that I had to repeat the 6th grade. Because of Latin, of course.
So just as additional information: My father was so annoyed by my performance at school that between the ages of 10 and 24, he... I haven't watched a game or training session for a year.
Vfl Bochum was informed directly and I then had to go to additional tutoring three times a week. Year after year I somehow cheated my way through, but from the 9th to the 10th grade, Latin would have killed my promotion again. So I went to the club's partner school to at least get a decent certificate after the 10th grade. The report card was really good, I have to say. But I was by no means a good student here either. I regularly went to our football cage in the morning instead of going to school and trained by myself in the morning. At the end of the year the teachers didn't want to take me on the graduation trip. Reason: I would not be manageable.
For the 11th grade I went back to high school to get my Abitur. But it quickly became clear to me that NOTHING would happen. I wasn't allowed to train with the professionals several times and sat on the bench for a game because I was missing school. Against all advice, I dropped out of school in October and started training twice a day.
Of course I wouldn't do that again today!
The season went really well for me afterwards. Regular player in the U19, we played for the championship and I was supposed to train with the professionals when I was 16.
I still have all the discussions in my head today: What if you get injured...?
Me: I won't hurt myself. I'm going professional.
And then came December 2nd, 2009.
🚑 Torn right cruciate ligament at 17
U18 national team. Small medical check with the doctor from the DFB. Cebio you will be going on an international trip to Israel. Afterwards one last training session on the pitch. Play football tennis very easily. The ball comes, I play the ball back and take a step backwards. But unfortunately I went straight into a hole in the grass and hyperextended my right knee. I immediately heard something cracking and said something was broken. The doctor immediately drove me to the hospital.
1 hour later I had the diagnosis.
Torn cruciate ligament and slightly torn lateral meniscus. Fortunately, I received perfect care from the doctor from the DFB. I went to the knee specialist in Bavaria that same night and had an operation the very next day.
I'll tell you honestly: Although everyone was right at the time about my decision not to continue school, I was just keen on the rehab time and working on myself every day. There was never a moment for me when I had doubts.
Fortunately, the rehab went perfectly and there were no setbacks. During that time I worked a lot in the weight room and increased my body weight from 68kg to 74kg at the end of the rehab. After 5 months I was allowed to go back on the pitch with the physiotherapist and we started playing football. But the season was over for me. Nobody wanted to take the risk of me training with the team too early. So I started preparing with the team as normal in the summer and took a break for around 7 months in total.
🏆 Top scorer U19 Bundesliga West
The rehab was over and I was actually fitter than before. Of course my pace wasn't what it was before, but I started working with an ex-sprint professional three times a week and quickly got that under control. Once a week I trained free kicks with my coach Dariusz Wosz in the morning and on Wednesday mornings there was support training for youth players.
So I did additional training 5 times a week in the morning, plus strength training for the upper body but I don't count that. In total I had 10 training sessions per week + a game on Sunday.
This quickly became apparent in the games. The result was 6 goals in the first half of the season and the winter training camp with the professionals in Turkey. In the second half of the season there were another 10 goals. But I still have to say that Tobias Steffen from Bayer 04 Leverkusen was already promoted to the U23s and therefore couldn't score any more goals for the U19s. Otherwise the top scorer would have gone to him alone.
But I was on the right track.
The club's plan was to build me up step by step for the professionals. That's why I didn't go straight to the professionals but via the U23 team at Vfl Bochum.
I had a clear vision of my game. But my new coach in the U23 had a different philosophy and unfortunately we didn't really get along well with each other personally. I blame myself for the situation back then because I really wasn't an easy player and I reacted very temperamentally to everything. But looking back, I can't say anything positive about the coach. In my opinion, a human disaster. But by repeating words and freaking out, I made things much more difficult for myself than was necessary.
-In the first championship game, the coach didn't substitute me. So I left the stadium in the 75th minute and went for a run in the park. (fine)
-2 weeks later I got a red card 5 minutes after coming on as a substitute. (The next fine + 3 games suspended)
-Two months later I clashed with the trainer during training and was excluded from training for a week
A few more things were added during the season, but it would be too much here. I simply couldn't handle sitting on the bench, I couldn't control my emotions and I couldn't clear my head in my private life either.
At the end of my first senior season, my stats were embarrassing. 1x starting eleven, 9x substitutions, 10x in the squad without substitution and the rest of the games I sat in the stands.
🙈 4th league instead of professional football
At the end of the season, the coach in the U23 team at Vfl Bochum no longer wanted me to train with the team. That's why I had to train alone with a ball on the next court at the same time every day.
Contact with Rot Weiss Essen came about through my former assistant coach, the U19 (and current advisor). I just wanted to train with a team again and started training with the team in Essen. Rot Weiss Essen played in the same league as the U23 but is a large, traditional club and the new stadium was being built at the time. For me it was just good to be able to play football normally again, but of course it was also clear that I had to see what happened next season. I still had a contract for the next season at Vfl Bochum but unfortunately it wouldn't have made sense to stay.
Luckily, the training in Essen went very well and the trainer also saw my good sides, both athletically and as a person. Of course, the season didn't leave me unscathed and I had to work on my character above all. In the end, a few training sessions turned into almost 4 weeks that I was allowed to train in Essen and I signed a contract for the next 2 years.
I had a lot planned for the new season, because my goal was clear. I have to assert myself here and attract the attention of better clubs. Of course, as you can imagine, that didn't work out as planned. I put way too much pressure on myself, I didn't want to make any more mistakes and give myself no room for attack. I was great in training but in the game I was paralyzed and just bad. Luckily we had a mental coach at the club with whom I started talking about the things in my head and the coach also understood and protected me. It then took about 6 weeks until I was able to reach my potential and become a regular player. From then on things went well for me in Essen and I had a good season.
My contract was extended early for another 2 years.
In the summer I got number 10, which meant a lot to me. I wore this number for most of my youth and it was an honor for me to wear this number in Essen. The goal of the season was clearly promotion, because Rot Weiss Essen was not a club that belonged in the regional league.
The new stadium was officially opened this season. The opening was celebrated with a friendly match against Werder Bremen.
In the second minute of the game I made a stupid duel against Felix Kroos and twisted my left knee.
🏥 Total loss of left knee at 21
A beautiful summer evening. The last test match before the season starts has just begun. The atmosphere in the stadium is outstanding. The second minute of the game is underway and I go into a duel with Felix Kroos. I try to position my body but I'm a little too far back. Felix Kroos crosses my path and hits me on the outside of my left knee with his knee. At that moment my entire weight is on my left leg and the knee turns inwards.
I immediately heard it crack, fell to the ground and signaled that it couldn't continue.
- Cruciate ligament tear
-Inner ligament tear
-Torn internal and external meniscus
-Part of the cartilage broke out
-Hemorrhage in the head of the fibula
That wasn't a good start to the season. So that night we went back to southern Germany to see a knee specialist to have an operation. I'll be honest: I was mentally exhausted on the first day, but then I just thought about my comeback and how fit I'll be when I get back. The operation went well and rehabilitation started straight away. Luckily, I knew what to expect from my first knee injury, but the rehab for my left knee didn't go so smoothly.
Even 4 months after the operation, I couldn't walk without pain and my knee reacted to every strain with swelling. So I had another operation. The doc had to remove scar tissue and smoothed out the cartilage. Hardly anyone believed in me anymore. I didn't stress myself, gave my body the time it needed and trained 6 days a week for 3-6 hours a day.
In the end I wasn't in team training for 13 months and missed the entire season.
In preparation for the new season, the internal goal was clearly promotion to the 3rd league. The club had increased its budget and signed very good players. The coach Marc Fascher was also new and had told me during preparation that he would give me the time that I needed after such a long break due to injury.
Luckily it didn't take me long to get into shape and I scored a few goals in preparation. I also scored the goal in the last friendly against BVB and was in the starting line-up in the first league game five days later.
The first half of the season went perfectly for both me and the club. I was a regular player, scored a few goals and assisted, and we were top of the league at the winter break. Thanks to my performance, several clubs from the 2nd and 3rd leagues became aware of me.
My plan finally seemed to be working. I had big plans for the season and finally had to get out of my contract and be bought by a higher-class club. But then I got a call while on winter vacation that knocked the ground out from under me.
💊 Doping scandal
✍🏾 First professional contract at 23
📈 Promotion to the 2nd Bundesliga
🧠 Unhappy!! My mental coach has to help
📉 Step back to the 3rd league
🇧🇯 Benin international
🚀 Promotion to the 1st Bundesliga
👎🏾 Wrong club chosen. Didn't listen to my heart
🇹🇷 Step abroad
📱The creation of OVATIME
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