EA beautiful story, a beautiful evolution. A few months ago, Ansgar Knauff was playing for Borussia Dortmund’s second team in the third division. And now? Now the attacking player is waving the Europa League. The Frankfurt player on loan from the BVB knows only one maxim: Always full throttle, always give everything.
Like in the quarter-finals against the great FC Barcelona, when he convinced with a dream goal. And just like now in the semi-finals at West Ham United. This time it went faster, much faster, until Knauff and the whole team could celebrate. It took just 50 seconds for the ball to be in England’s goal – and it seems a bit surreal that the nimble underdog didn’t score with his foot but with his head.
Knauff found the right moment to force his way into the Hammers’ penalty area, wait for Rafael Borré’s cross and flick the ball past United goalkeeper Alphonse Areola beyond the line. “It was a great feeling in this incredible game,” Knauff said later, when the London coup was over. “Rafael’s ball before the 1-0 was turned very well in the direction of the goal, I just had to turn my head.”
A discipline that ultimately does not suit Knauff at all, as his coach told us in a humorous anecdote. Coach Oliver Glasner reported at a late hour in the spacious catacombs of the London stadium on the training ritual, in which Knauff also and above all plays a role. It is part of the regular end of a training session to define the last exclamation mark with crosses and headers.
“Kevin will probably smile too that Ansgar scores such a header,” Glasner said in London, speaking to goalkeeper Kevin Trapp, who sat 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 know it’s not Knauff’s main skill.
Knauff’s meteoric rise
But far from it. He can. And with everything Knauff has already gone through and accomplished during his meteoric rise in Frankfurt, it’s still important to stay on the pitch. “He’s humble,” Glasner said. “We’re just giving him some advice.”
It’s not much that his superiors have to tell him – not even for the next exam on Monday, then in everyday life in the Bundesliga at Bayer Leverkusen (8.30 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Bundesliga and on DAZN). Knauff storms and fights, doesn’t drop a ball, puts his opponents under pressure with constant high speed and always finds solutions and ideas for surprising moments. Against Barcelona, he didn’t think twice when he had the chance to measure up and go for a brilliant shot. A goal like a stab in the hearts of the Catalans – just like the headed goal scored in no time against the ‘Hammers’.
As if Markus Krösche guessed it during the winter break, when he quickly agreed with officials at Dortmund on a loan deal until mid-2023. “Ansgar fits very well into our team with his pace and understanding of the game and would like to take the next stage of development here. He is able to help us immediately on the flanks,” said the sporting director, explaining the decision to sign.
Krösche was not wrong. Knauff really helps Eintracht. But help also came from the ranks. “The fans have helped us a lot again,” Knauff said. “Even though they weren’t that many this time around, they created a great atmosphere. They were still celebrating 30-40 minutes after the game.
Impulsive and almost unstoppable on the pitch, cautious and analytical off the touchline: Knauff was also one of the most sought-after people to talk to in London, and he was right to say that “we defended very well on the course of the last 20 minutes”. “. United increased the pressure but were unlucky to see Jarrod Bowen hit the bar with a header at the start of injury time.
But unity resisted everything. And right in the middle is the multipurpose button. “He’s on the right track,” his coach said. “He can start a great career.” And continue to create great European moments with recklessness and a taste for action.