As a newly graduated high school graduate, Maximilian Thiel moved from the 3rd division to 1. FC Köln and was promoted to the Bundesliga in 2014. There followed three years at Union Berlin, during which he impressed as a top performer – if he could be on the pitch. Serious injuries kept throwing him back and mentally troubling him. But maybe it was fate. Because in the darkest hours of his football career he met the love of his life.
Maximilian Thiel is at the airport. Six o’clock in the morning. In Munich. His plane is about to leave. He scurries quickly through the security check, bites twice on his bread roll, gets into the plane – departure. The flight only takes an hour. Then Thiel ends up in Berlin. He doesn’t have much time this morning. He hastily packs the gym bag in his apartment and freshened up again. Then the 22-year-old jets off to Köpenick. He’s actually tired, but he’s not allowed to comment on anything. Training is at ten o’clock. Thiel plays for Union Berlin. The morning session of the second division is on. It’s the year 2016.
“These are things that shouldn’t be done like that,” says Thiel. “But I was in love.” His new girlfriend lived in Munich at the time. “I just wanted to see her as often as possible. She helped me to be happy again. ”During his time in Berlin, Thiel fell into a deep hole. “I had a real struggle mentally. The many injuries ate me up quickly. “
Concerns that a few years earlier – in the summer of 2013 – were still a long way off. At the age of 20, Thiel left his Bavarian hometown of Burgkirchen to realize his dream in Cologne. He wants to play 2nd Bundesliga. In the 2012/13 season, the left winger scored ten goals in the 3rd division for Wacker Burghausen. Several second division clubs express interest. “Paderborn and FC were shortlisted.” Both clubs were second division clubs at the time. “When it became more concrete with FC, my decision was made. I wanted to take the bigger of the two steps, in a big city, to a big club. “
1. FC Köln had only just missed direct resurgence and initiated a major upheaval in the summer of 2013. There are only eight players on the field at the start of training. Goalkeeping coach Alexander Bade and physiotherapist Klaus Maierstein lead the unit. A head coach is not there yet. “That was a very funny, little group to get in.” Peter Stöger was only introduced four days later at the Geißbockheim before a large part of the squad was determined at the start of the season.
“Now let’s take you right out”
In the first round of the DFB Cup at Eintracht Trier, Thiel made his first competitive appearance and scored the 2-0 final score shortly before the end. At a whopping 109 km / h, the left-footed player thrashed the ball into the goal from 25 meters. The real baptism of fire, however, should follow in the evening – in Cologne. “It feels like half the team – especially Dome Maroh – came up to me and said: ‘So Maxi, now we’re going to take you right.’ We marched into a club there – unbelievable. For the first time I noticed what it is like to really party. I didn’t even know that from the village. ”
In the first half of the season Thiel is mostly part of the squad. On the fourth matchday he will be substituted for the first time in front of 50,000 spectators at the home game against Sandhausen in the RheinEnergieSTADION. “That was indescribable.” However, it was not enough for more than six competitive games in the 2013/14 season. The competition is too big on the offensive. High achievers like Slawomir Peszko and Patrick Helmes quickly won the FC over the course of the season. The competition is getting bigger. Sometimes Thiel even has to help out in the U21.
Although it is not his best season in terms of sport, Thiel fondly remembers the year at FC – with promotion to the Bundesliga in 2014 as the crowning glory. On the 31st matchday, FC made the promotion perfect with a home win against Bochum. “When the party was over, I was there at the front,” says Thiel with a big grin on his face. “We walked through the VIP room with beer and there was a pool party in the cabin.” In the evening, the team moved on to the city center. “We moved from club to club. We had a young clique with Jonas Hector, Kevin Wimmer and Maurice Exslager. We were out until five or six in the morning and really burned the hut down. “
High achievers and unlucky injuries at Union
Because of the good atmosphere within the team, Thiel finds it particularly difficult to leave FC 2014 after just one year. “The ascent came a year too early for me personally. If we had stayed in the second division for a year longer, I would certainly have gotten more stakes. ”After open discussions with Jörg Schmadtke and Jörg Jakobs, Thiel will be loaned out to second division Union Berlin for the 2014/15 season – including a purchase option. “I had an amazing time in Cologne. The people in Cologne are very open and take you to their hearts quickly. I liked that, ”says Thiel. “It felt like I had only just furnished my apartment properly, so I had to leave the city again. That was a bit of a shame. “
But the loan is paying off. For now, at least. At Union, Thiel is a regular straight away. He collects eight scorer points in 16 games this season. The fact that there are no longer parties is due to a shoulder injury that has meanwhile put him out of action for several months. “I was in a really good mood. If I had stayed injury-free, I might even have been able to go to a first division club. ”So at least the Köpenickers take their purchase option and Thiel bindingly until 2017.
In the 2015/16 season things are going well again for the heavy-hitting left-footer. He is a top performer and once even leads the team onto the field as captain. But because of two muscle fiber tears and persistent muscular problems, Thiel does not even contest half of the maximum possible games. The bad luck with injuries plagues him more and more. He seeks advice from physiotherapists and osteopaths, takes part in nutrition training. “I tried everything. Maybe in the end it was just the psyche because I couldn’t cope with the pressure, ”says Thiel. “At the time, it was also about another contract extension. I’ve been thinking too much. “
In love with Munich
And the bad luck with injuries continues: Thiel also missed the first twelve games of the 2016/17 season due to a shoulder joint split. As a result, he has a tear in the tendon. He is completing his rehab for a few weeks with a specialist in Munich. During this time he met his current wife and died working as a pediatric nurse in a Munich hospital. “I was actually devastated by all the setbacks. It was definitely the reason that I came out of my hole again. “
The two of them go out to eat together in Munich several times and write a lot to each other. At Christmas 2016 they will officially become a couple. “With her caring manner, I was a hit for her,” says Thiel with a wink. Now he can talk about that difficult time with a healthy price of humor. “With me, my friend had a patient that she could rebuild. She mastered that with flying colors. ”
After the rehab, Thiel has to go back to Berlin. His contract runs for another six months. Sometimes he visits his girlfriend in Munich, sometimes she comes to the capital. In the summer of 2017, Thiel’s time at Union ends and he moves to 1. FC Heidenheim. “Holstein Kiel would also have been an option, but I wanted to be close to my girlfriend. It was only an hour and a half from Heidenheim to Munich. ”Because Thiel’s bad luck with injuries persists in his three years in Heidenheim, he is daring a new start at third division club SV Wehen Wiesbaden in the summer of 2021. With success. Thiel is fit and has already collected six scorer points in 14 games. “I am feeling good here.”
At the same time, he is in the final stages of his bachelor’s degree in sports management. “Then at least I’ll have something in hand.” In a few weeks, he and his wife are also expecting their first child. “It’s as fast as a fairy tale.” Thiel’s darkest time gave birth to great love – and soon also offspring.
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