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TRAINING CAMP DIARY DAY 3: HOLY KÖTTBULLAR!

Training camp in Herzlake – FC St Pauli's pre-season preparations are underway! What goes on during the energy-sapping workouts and friendlies? And what happens in between? Each day, Colin from the club's media team brings you an informative and sometimes irreverent look at what it's like to be in training camp.

It's all a question of technique. Uttered out of the blue, that might sound a bit obtuse. But when said in relation to football, it can make total sense. Take the start of this morning's session, for example, when head coach Timo 'Schulle' Schultz and osteopath Florian 'Lelle' Lechner decided to try to curl the ball into the net from the byline with a deftly angled shot. You may know the scene from various training videos on social media. And wouldn't you know it, Lelle hit the target with his first attempt. So it is true – it really is all a question of technique.

Technique was definitely required today because set pieces were on the agenda for the Boys in Brown ahead of this evening's friendly in Lohne. Running through the various free-kick and corner routines certainly seemed to get the players fired up for tonight's game. "I had a lot of fun," said Eric Smith, who caught the eye not only with his defensive work. "There were lots of different situations for us to adapt to. I was given the odd attacking role, which was a bit unusual for me but a great experience nonetheless," the 24-year-old Swede said.

It's the first time for both of us here in Herzlake. A double debut, you could say. "When they said we were going to Herzlake for a training camp and I saw the local area, I was worried we'd get sent on really long runs through the woods of the type you get in pre-season in Sweden," the defensive all-rounder admitted. Remember those 'Schmerzlake vibes' from day 1? "But no, I really like it here. The surroundings and the style of the hotel are a bit like Sweden. The conditions and the training are great, and I feel good, too."

That's comforting to hear, given that Eric is almost like a new signing for us. The Halmstad native player has been with the club since the turn of the year, but a calf injury sustained against Darmstadt, a game in which he provided a neat assist, consigned him to the sidelines. But, and let it be said, he actually has a 100% record in the brown and white. Holy köttbullar! Eric laughs: "I've only played five times, come on!" But still, how many players can say they've won five out of five in Bundesliga 2?!

Eric Smith was delighted to discover that the team hotel has a small golf zone and soon had club in hand.

Eric Smith was delighted to discover that the team hotel has a small golf zone and soon had club in hand.

In the meantime, Eric has settled down to life in Hamburg. "My wife and I live very centrally, which is really practical. I'd heard a lot about how nice it is in Hamburg and it's all true. We feel very much at home." The couple have since been joined by a new member of the family who keeps them busy every day and goes by the name of Zac. "We've got a Dobermann puppy," he explains. "He's six months old now and very lively. I get up at seven every morning and take him for a walk. At the moment he's with my wife in Sweden, though. He's seeing a dog trainer, so you could say he's at training camp like me!"

It's all a question of technique. Something that applies to another of Eric's big passions, golf. "I love it, it's so much fun," he says. "I played a lot as a kid in Sweden and started up again about three years ago. Time permitting, I'd like to find a club in the local area so I can hit a few balls occasionally."

I find this quite fascinating somehow because whenever I think of golf, I think of those pensioners in American sitcoms pootling from hole to hole in their golf carts. And of Tiger Woods, of course, but not Eric Smith. "It's a way to switch off and wind down – just brilliant alongside football," he says. And when we show him the little golf zone in the sports hall on site, his face lights up: "Oh, that's fantastic, it looks like a lot of fun."

Eric will hopefully have some fun against BW Lohne tonight before trying his hand at golf back in training camp. As we keep saying, it's all a question of technique.

Photos: FC St. Pauli/Witters

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