Part-Retirement Enforcer – Sport

Part-Retirement Enforcer – Sport

That was a bit funny. There was not a single survey, no one collected statistics, no one calculated how long Nils Petersen didn’t hit anymore. Counting the minutes has long since become a kind of popular sport. If a striker hasn’t scored a goal for a certain amount of time, there’s always someone somewhere who wants to know exactly what’s going on and pulls the calculator out of the drawer. Counting minutes not only holds the mirror up to the striker, but also keeps the heated operation running. People make fun of it when the striker stumbles the ball again in front of the goal or shoots wide of the box from two meters. If you have blockages, you don’t have to worry about the ridicule, but it was different with Petersen.

On the one hand, this is due to the fact that Petersen plays in the Black Forest oasis of Freiburg, where they have successfully refused to participate in the excitement of the industry for years. On the other hand, it is because Petersen’s minute counting would undermine the sense of minute counting. Arithmetic thrives on bringing impressive numbers to the people, but Petersen usually doesn’t play for more than 20 minutes.

Petersen, 34, is quite an amazing player in that higher-faster-further operation that football became when he was at Bayern Munich. That was more than ten years ago, and since then Petersen has successfully refused to take part in the higher-faster-further. He could still be the first choice for other teams, in Freiburg he has long been in semi-retirement. “Realism and self-reflection are always appropriate,” said Petersen on Tuesday evening as he stood in the catacombs of the Sandhäuser Stadium. He knows that it’s also the playing structure that doesn’t exactly make it easy for him to find his place. Freiburg don’t play Sturm und Drang football like other teams that win more often than lose. Freiburg play collective football, their success is also based on the fact that the strikers are not just in the right place at the right time when Christian Günter has hit a half-court cross or Vincenzo Grifo has kicked a corner.

“As unimportant as it may have been at the moment, it was important to me personally.”

Forwards are the first defenders in Freiburg, but Petersen defines himself by what forwards are primarily there for: completing attacks and scoring goals. Petersen is, as he said himself on Tuesday, “an executor”. And if the executor does not execute, he just sits on the bench. Petersen knows that, it was the same in the first round of the DFB Cup. But when he came on as a substitute in the 83rd minute, it was 1-0, then Petersen hit the corner with a left-footed shot after Sandhausen goalkeeper Patrick Drewes had played the ball in his foot. It was only his second goal of the season, having previously netted only in Azerbaijan in a 1-1 Europa League draw against Qarabag. “It’s a striker thing,” said Petersen after the game, “if you haven’t scored for a long time, you just long for that sense of achievement. As unimportant as it may have been at the moment, it was important for me personally.”

It doesn’t matter to a striker whether he scores in Azerbaijan, Sandhausen or against HSV. Goal is goal, Petersen makes no difference. He just wants to enforce it, especially now that the games are not as easy for Freiburg as they were last year. In Sandhausen, too, it was a tough 90 minutes, which could have turned into 120 if Grifo hadn’t kicked that one corner shortly before the end that set Freiburg’s victory through a Sandhausen own goal. “It’s possible that we’re still missing a bit of the carefreeness from the first half of the season,” said Petersen, “we had a run and suddenly the season was interrupted for almost three months”. 68 days to be exact. But of course Nils Petersen hadn’t done the math.

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