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Christopher Buchtmann's 87th minute strike against Kickers Würzburg on 16 April was a key moment in the battle against the drop. For Clemens Schoppenhauer and his teammates, however, it was a huge setback, contributing as it did to their subsequent relegation to the third tier. The 25-year-old defender has drawn a line under it now and is looking forward to lots of wins at his new Millerntor home.

Bright sunshine and an outdoor temperature of 28 degrees on the first day of training, weather Clemens Schoppenhauer would be familiar with at his last club Kickers Würzburg. This summer it is more a case of the 25-year-old returning home rather than leaving it, however. The centre-back was born in Bremerhaven and thus has his roots in northern Germany. "It's nice to come closer to home again," a happy Schoppenhauer said.

The defensive specialist began his career almost on his doorstep, coming through the Werder Bremen youth academy before gaining his first experience at senior level in the club's Under-23 side. On joining Würzburg he was a member of the team that sensationally clinched promotion to the second division in the play-offs. Last season he was a regular fixture in the first team, making 31 appearances. "I'm really up for the new task and looking forward to taking the next step at St. Pauli," Schoppenhauer said.

Last term Schoppenhauer experienced a campaign that was almost the polar opposite of the one St. Pauli went through. The surprise package from Würzburg enchanted the league before Christmas and sat sixth on 27 points at the midway point. It was a different story after the winter break, however. They were unable to refind their form and were eventually relegated. "I've put that behind me now and am fully focused on the challenge at St. Pauli," he said.

The competition for a place in the team will be fierce but Schoppenhauer is ready for it. "Everyone wants to play and we all have to settle in first, of course," he said. "But people rise to the challenge and anything is possible if you give your all." The centre-back sees himself as a "combative rather than a filigree player." Head coach Olaf Janssen can thus look forward to a hard-fought battle for places that is likely to continue throughout the season.


Photo: Witters