EA wonderful story, a wonderful development. A few months ago, Ansgar Knauff played for Borussia Dortmund’s second team in the third division. And now? Now the offensive player Europa League is stirring up. The Frankfurt player, on loan from BVB, knows only one maxim: Always full throttle, always giving everything.
As in the quarter-final against the great FC Barcelona, where he convinced with a dream goal. And just like now in the semi-final at West Ham United. This time it went faster, much faster, until Knauff and the whole team could celebrate. It only took 50 seconds before the ball was in the English goal – and it seems a bit unreal that the agile outsider did not score with his foot, but with his head.
Knauff found the perfect time to force himself into Hammers’ field, wait for Rafael Borré’s cross and put the ball past United goalkeeper Alphonse Areola across the line. “It was a great feeling in this incredible game,” Knauff said later when the London coup was complete. “Rafael’s ball before 1-0 was turned in the direction of the goal really well, I just had to turn my head.”
A discipline that actually does not suit Knauff at all, as his coach told us in a humorous anecdote. Coach Oliver Glasner reported at a late stage in the spacious catacombs at London Stadium about the training ritual, in which Knauff also and above all plays a role. It is part of the usual ending of a training session to put the last exclamation mark with a cross and a head shot.
“Kevin will probably also smile that Ansgar scores such a header,” Glasner said in London, addressing goalkeeper Kevin Trapp, who was sitting next to him on the podium in the press conference room. “In training, Ansgar is always the joker when it comes to crosses and headers.” Why? “Because there are extra points for it” and because Eintracht knows full well that it is not Knauff’s core competence.
Meteoric rise of Knauff
But far from it. He can. And with all that Knauff has already experienced and achieved during his meteoric rise in Frankfurt, it is still important to stay on the ground. “He’s humble,” Glasner said. “We’re just giving him some advice.”
It’s not much his boss has to tell him – not even for the next exam on Monday, so in everyday life in the Bundesliga in Bayer Leverkusen (20.30 in FAZ live ticker for the Bundesliga and on DAZN). Knauff storms and fights, does not give up a ball, puts his opponents under pressure at constant high speed and always finds solutions and ideas for surprising moments. Against Barcelona, he did not think twice when he had the chance to measure himself and try a brilliant shot. A goal like a stab in the heart of the Catalans – just as the main goal was scored in no time at all against “Hammers”.
As if Markus Krösche had guessed it during the winter break, where he quickly agreed with those responsible in Dortmund on a loan deal until mid-2023. “Ansgar fits in very well with our team with his pace and his understanding of the game and would like to take the next step in the development here. He is able to help us immediately on the flanks,” said the sporting director, explaining the decision to sign.
Krösche was not mistaken. Knauff really helps Eintracht. But there was also help from the ranks. “The fans helped us a lot again,” Knauff said. “Even though there were not so many this time, they created a fantastic atmosphere. They still celebrated 30 to 40 minutes after the match. “
Impulsive and almost unstoppable on the pitch, cautious and analytical off the sidelines: Knauff was also one of the most sought after people to talk to in London, and he was right in his assessment that “we defended very well in the last 20 minutes “. United increased the pressure but were unlucky to see Jarrod Bowen hit the crossbar with an overhead kick early in overtime.
But unity resisted everything. And right in the middle is the versatile button. “He’s on the right track,” his coach said. “He can start a fantastic career.” And continue to create great European moments of carefreeness and desire to act.