Ron-Thorben Hoffmann has made a great start to his Sunderland career, showing why the on-loan Bayern Munich goalkeeper is so highly rated, and that has led to interest back in his homeland about how he is doing at the Stadium of Light.
To that end, the 22-year-old has recently published his first column with German magazine Kicker, which we have translated for you in full below.
You can read the original at kicker.de HERE.
Football is actually a fast, dynamic sport, which is why I have loved it ever since I can remember. But the football business can sometimes be just the opposite, namely tough and agonisingly slow. This becomes particularly obvious, but also paradoxical, when deadline day, i.e. the end of the transfer period, draws ever closer and hecticness combines with slowness to create a nerve-racking stalemate. And so, in retrospect, the first day of my “English adventure” was one of the most hectic and at the same time longest of my life.
31 August 2021 in fast forward (for me, every minute felt like an eternity!):
I have been sitting mentally and literally on packed suitcases for two days. I love Bayern, but I want to play, and I want to play regularly and at a high level. Unfortunately, that’s not really possible in this constellation at FCB. So my advisor scouts the market, holds lots of talks and we draw up a transfer battle plan. The reality, however, can only be strategically planned to a limited extent, there are simply too many players and interests involved.
Hope and new opportunities alternate with burst deals. But one thing is becoming more and more concrete. On the island. At Sunderland. At the traditional club AFC. I’m really keen on that. Five times English champions, a crowd average of 33,000, big ambitions to march through from the third division into the Premier League. And: a rivalry with Newcastle that makes the 1860 vs FCB match a petting zoo.
The alarm clock rings at 4am
Things are looking good, even if there are still a few details to be sorted out. But they have to be sorted out. And then the question: when do we fly over to do the medical check and sign the contract in time for the deadline, when there are only two planes leaving for the next airport in Newcastle on the day?
Then everything seems clear: plane booked, get up at 4am, departure from Frankfurt at 6am. Everything works out - more or less. I land in Newcastle, but somehow my luggage doesn’t come with me. And it feels like the post-Brexit immigration formalities take half a transfer period. And all the Corona tests ... but sure, it has to be done. The only thing is that the deal is still not quite done. Hopefully the trip wasn’t in vain after all.
Don’t think about it. Keep going. I pass the check without any problems. Then it’s off to the stadium for a first interview and photo shoot. Only the contract is still not signed. We sit in a room with my advisor, and virtually we keep in touch with lawyers and managers. We’re trained in remoteness, because of Corona. And then, at 11.12 p.m.: Hallelujah, it’s done and I sign my contract with AFC Sunderland!
And after that, it’s fast forward. Dinner with the coach, getting to know the team and the first, incredibly intensive training sessions. After two days, my family arrives. And before I have to hand in my driver’s licence, my father promises to bring my car from Germany. That makes driving on the left almost a piece of cake.
And then, as if painted: One day before my mother’s birthday, the top game against Accrington is on the agenda in our own stadium. First against second. The whole stadium sings and shakes. I’m in the starting eleven and it’s only now that I understand why this is real football, why every cliché is true. This isn’t the Netflix series “Sunderland till I die”, but that’s exactly why it was made. This is beer, not bubbly, this is English football and not Champions League, there are so many and such real emotions, and I know right at this moment: I did it right, I want to be right now and here and play, in this team, this stadium, with and for these people! And, oh yes, we win the game 2-1 and stay first!
But the cliché that the sun doesn’t always shine on “my” new island, that rain is a normal state of affairs, became apparent a little later. Our game against Portsmouth was literally pure water polo, probably wouldn’t have even been kicked off in the Bundesliga and was lost. But that is also true: After a defeat, no matter how comically it comes about, you have to wipe your mouth and move on. We won the next two games.
Next time I’ll tell you about the fabulous Mr Henderson - and how two Bavarians in the north-east of England stick together.