Niclas Füllkrug only discovered at the age of 29 that he is a fearsome goalscorer. We are talking about a player who is master of several nicknames – one of them in physical caricature, due to the fact that he has considerable space in his front teeth. Do you have money to fix it? He has it, but he doesn’t want it.
He is someone who made it to Germany’s squad by chance, for the 2022 World Cup, and ended up being one of the few positive highlights of the mannschaft. And he did so at a time when the Germans – and football in general – are looking for more technical strikers, despite Füllkrug being anything but. Strictly speaking, it seems to be the best “copy” of Miroslav Klose that has emerged in recent years.
We are talking about a striker who, one day, was on a table to undergo knee surgery. And he went there again – three more times, because there are no three without four.
This player did all his training at Werder Bremen and reached senior level, but the club did not recognize him enough value. Five years after the club sent him away, the world took it upon himself to ensure that they would have to pay to have him back – and, without hard feelings and with forgiveness, he agreed to return and was the one who helped the club most to rise to the German League, after the division descent.
As a youngster, Füllkrug ended up in the hospital with a teammate’s tooth stuck in his head. Things that happen.
Nothing is trivial in this player’s life and career and it’s not easy to talk about him without going into oddities and unusual professional and personal scenarios. But it’s fair that we try, because this Sunday, as on many other Sundays, he scored a goal for Werder Bremen and cemented his position as the top scorer in the German League, with 15 goals.
It took a while to get to the top
In a Spain-Germany there would be supposed to be art. But the 1-1 of the 2022 World Cup saw goals from two players who don’t owe much to that field: Morata, a very intelligent player, but with technical limitations, and Füllkrug, a “panzer” who doesn’t treat the ball for you – at least not in the way we are used to in recent years in Germany.
And this context is important to understand what is being said when talking about Niclas Füllkrug. This player made his debut in the Bundesliga more than ten years ago, but it took half a dozen years for him to have a reasonable season among the cream of German football – partly due to his own disability, but also with a considerable weight from the four surgeries he has already had on his knees.
Füllkrug was already 25 years old when he scored 16 goals for Hannover, who had bought him years earlier from the club that made him grow, but which did not value him as a senior.
“I’ve been thrown back more than once into phases where it felt like I’d taken off. Now I’m on a trajectory that reflects what I’ve projected for a long time.” I must confess that it makes me proud ”, she pointed out, to the ESPNin 2022.
Werder Bremen’s lack of an “eye” ended up, later, giving the club a bill to pay – and we say that literally, because they even had to pay to get him back. It was 6.5 million euros.
By this time, Füllkrug was already relatively well known. For the goals he was scoring, even if not in large doses, but, above all, for the nickname “lucke” – a word that means “space” in German and that the former colleague, Marko Arnautovic, made “paste” to define someone who has a tremendous space between two teeth.
Füllkrug has already earned enough in his career to correct, but he doesn’t want to. “Those who know me say that the space is already a brand image and that I must keep it”, he justified to the sky.
A tooth lodged in the head
Last season he scored 19 goals – he was the most important player in getting Bremen back to the Bundesliga. In this, even at a higher level, he already takes 15 – he is the best scorer of the race.
We just talked about Füllkrug’s presence at the 2022 World Cup, something that stems from the goals he scored, naturally, but even those wouldn’t have been enough if it weren’t for Werner’s injury – “full”, as they also call him, had never even played for Germany.
With two goals in three games, it turned out to be one of the few good news for that team, spurring the nostalgia of the Germans. Nostalgia for still remembering, of course, a gentleman called Miroslav Klose.
Füllkrug is a good copy of that tremendous scorer who has already retired from football – or, if you like, Mario Gomez, another “panzer” who stood out for Germany, asserting a “species” that, currently, does not seem to be so appreciated in an increasingly technical selection.
Toni Kroos has already said that Germany have always been keen to have someone with these characteristics – Klose and Gomez prove it – and that a classic No. 9 “is the type of player that can help in certain situations”.
Looking at Füllkrug’s heat map or ball touch map quickly attests that he is an area-focused player. And the idea of the Real Madrid midfielder points to the physical and fighting power in the area of someone who could be the destiny of the “inventions” of those more technical players – and fulllike Klose or Gomez, knows how to move in the area and makes this the most fundamental part of his game.
Or maybe Kroos was just talking about having Füllkrug in desperate moments in the game, even because of the very strong aerial game. Whatever the premise, Germany has always had room for someone like the Bremen striker.
Füllkrug’s late career and stardom has already been detailed, so this text can stop here. But it only remains, scythe-cut, as a detail at the end of the weekend, the day when Füllkrug, in a training session still in Bremen’s youth system, collided with a colleague and got a tooth from that colleague lodged in his head.
He went to the hospital and told the site of the Bundesliga, in 2017, that “it was very dangerous, because with that tooth there was a threat of infection by a bacteria”. Reinforce that the tooth was not his, it was a colleague’s. Now, yes, the text can end.