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Lukas Daschner: From the rec to the Millerntor

As a small boy, Lukas Daschner spent his free time on the football pitch. "Back then," says the 22-year-old, "it was mostly for the fun of playing." Today, it is his job to play football. The dream has become a reality. "Leaving Duisburg for FC St. Pauli was the right move for me. I feel at home in Hamburg." This is a player who could give the club and its fans a lot of pleasure in the future.

Daschner's career began on a cinder pitch with steel goals. He simply loved kicking a ball about with his mates. National team director Oliver Bierhoff once blamed the lack of a 'recreation ground mentality' for the dearth of young talent coming through in the German game. England and France were producing street footballers who gave them the edge in performance terms, while Germany were mainly educating players across the broad. "It definitely boosted my ability," says Daschner, reflecting on all the afternoons spent on the rec. "I took something from everything we did, whether it was shooting practice or keeping the ball in the air for as long as possible."

Up to the age of 11, the attacking midfielder played in a talented team at Hamborn 07, a club based in a district of Duisburg. His teammates moved on to Leverkusen, Dortmund, Bochum and Schalke. The blonde lad was the last to go, another who went to Gelsenkirchen. "It took some getting used to," he says. "We took part in a tournament in Russia and went on trips to France and Madrid. I hadn't done anything like that before, it was a pretty cool experience."

From Gelsenkirchen he moved back to his hometown and MSV Duisburg, the club that has had the biggest influence on his career thus far. While in the Under-19s, Daschner trained with the first-team players by agreement with head coach Ilia Gruev, who now looks after the loan players at Werder Bremen, and director of sport Ivica Grlic. "I realised I could be onto something when I flew with the senior squad to training camp," says Daschi, as he is known. "My aim was to turn my hobby into a career."

Having caught the eye with the Zebras in Bundesliga 2, Daschner eventually made the breakthrough in the third division. He featured in 34 of 38 league games, advancing under Torsten Lieberknecht to become a key performer with eleven goals and five assists. "I think every player likes scoring," says Daschner, who demonstrated his prowess in front of goal last season. "But there are also players who play the final pass before a goal, and I see myself there as well."

The move to St. Pauli was his springboard back to the second division, a league he already knows from his time in Duisburg. "Though there's more individual quality and the build-up play is clearer, there isn't that much difference compared with the third division. A lot of teams and players could also do well one league higher," he continues. But there were also personal considerations behind his decision to move to Hamburg, far away from his home and family in Duisburg. "It's part of a player’s personal development," he says. "I'm responsible for looking after myself here, there's nobody peering over my shoulder. It's a step forward in that respect."

On the pitch, his place of work, Daschi has already demonstrated an eye for his teammates, creativity and fresh ideas. He has already contributed four assists despite starting six of his seven games from the bench, and the substitute's role is the only shortcoming at the moment. "I want to start every game if I can, though I'm not putting myself under any pressure," says the Duisburg native. "When I'm subbed on, I give it my best shot. The coaches talk to me a lot.” Daschner has been made to feel very welcome by his teammates, and he has regular opportunities to show glimpses of his quality. His aim now is to keep doing that in the games to come, just more frequently. Maybe by scoring his first goal in the brown and white.


Photos: Witters