Last June, the Fanatic interviewed young German-born and raised footballer Fabian Kling, who took the rather rare course for a German player of playing college soccer and earning a degree in the United States, and afterwards making his professional debut in North America as a defender with the San Antonio Scorpions of the 2nd division NASL. The Fanatic checks in with Fabian and the new career adventure he has embarked upon back in Germany, joining FV Illertissen of the Regionalliga Bayern.
Fanatic: When we last talked last June, you were in the first third of your rookie season with the NASL San Antonio Scorpions. The Scorpions, in its first year of existence, went on to win the regular season NASL Championship. How much fun was it to play for a winning club that led the league in attendance?
Fabian: Yes, it definitely has been a while since our last talk. Much has changed…
It was a lot of fun to be part of a winning club, even though the playing was not much in existence towards the end (due to coach’s decision making). However I do not think that this is the important part, for me it was the most exciting part to walk out of the locker room and see thousands of fans cheering for you and your club at every game. This feeling is what makes me want to win and keep winning, so the celebrations keep going on. So winning is good and nice, but it is way more fun when you can share it with thousands of people. This is also why I was really upset that we got kicked off in a bad game from our side at the end (The Scorpions were eliminated in the NASL playoffs by the Minnesota Stars, the previous season’s champion).
Fanatic: The Scorpions signed many veterans before last season started. What was the transition like going from a senior and leader at Fort Lewis College to a rookie on a veteran-laden team?
Fabian: We certainly did have a lot of older players on the team, but it was an advantage, because you can learn a lot from those guys. The transition was rather easy, because throughout my youth and college career you go through the same process a couple of times. Of course, it took a little while until the senior players even respected a rookie enough to listen to him occasionally, so I think the transition in this case was easier for me then for some of the veterans. But like the saying says, “Cannot teach an old dog new tricks” hahaha. In this case it is to listen to rookies…
Fanatic: What lessons did you learn playing with so many veteran professionals that you will carry with you as your career goes on?
Fabian: I think the most important lesson I learned was to not get frustrated in practice when calls are made against you all the time because you touched the veteran players (smiles)
Another lesson was that the more you talk the easier you can make your life on the pitch. Furthermore another thing I learned last season was that you can prevent a lot of precarious situations by knowing and anticipating what is going on around you on the field when playing.
Fabian: Signing with FV Illertissen was a good step for my career. The factors that led me to go back to my motherland where obviously that I did not get any more trust and opportunities from my old coach at San Antonio. I wanted and needed to get back to playing again. As much fun as it might be to earn money while doing what you love, to me I want to play no matter what. I could have stayed in the NASL, but at this point in time I was somewhat over the whole experience playing 2nd division in the USA. Also I wanted to be home again and spend some time with my family after I have not been home in about two years before that. More factors that led me back to Germany were that I had offers from the third league here, which did not work out due to financial reasons of those clubs. So I ended up getting the opportunity to sign with a really good and young fourth league team.
Fanatic: FVI is in first place in the BFV following the winter break. The league consists of 20 clubs, including the reserve squads of Bayern Munich, Nurnberg, Greuther Furth, FC Augsburg, 1860 Munich, FC Ingolstadt? What do you expect the level of competition to be when the BFV restarts on February 23?
Fabian: Yes, the league consists of a lot of reserve squads from 1st and 2nd Bundesliga teams. The level of competition should be very good, at least the same level as NASL as I can tell so far from the whole preseason practice and games. The whole level might be a bit harder, because the 4th league is the springboard for a lot of young players who want to get a shot at the professional leagues here. So it will certainly be very competitive, not just from playing against the reserve squads, but all the clubs in general.
Fanatic: You have also played in the FC Augsburg youth system and at the amateur level for another BFV club, Rain am Lech? Will you enjoy facing your old clubs?
Fabian: You are right, I played for both those clubs. Unfortunately Illertissen already played Rain am Lech twice this season, so I will not be able to face them again in competition. However, our first league game of the year got cancelled and so we will play Rain am Lech in a friendly this weekend. It will be fun to face a lot of my friends and former teammates, also because when I came back to Germany I spent a week or so practicing with Rain to keep myself fit. We will be facing Augsburg II in our first home game this second half of the season, but it will not be too special, because it has been a long time since I left the club and I do not know any of the players or coaches anymore, because as you know in football all of that changes pretty quickly.
Fanatic: Your younger brother Lukas also plays for FVI. Is this the first time you’ll both be at the same club? Who is the better player?
Fabian: No, my brother and I played for the same club when we first started off with football when we were young. Back then I was always the one doing the work and he was the one who scored off my assists, but that was also because he was already good enough to play with kids two years older than him. Since then we have not been able to play for the same club again, our football paths have been going in different directions. However this is also what I love about the sport, no matter where you are from or where you meet you always see each other again.
Nowadays, I can’t say who’s better, because we play different positions. He is a center midfielder, while I am a center back. But I can say that we do play very well together (smiles), so it does not really matter who is better as long as we are the best together…
Fanatic: Now that your back in Germany, we can’t resist asking you a few questions about two Bundesliga clubs, Bayern Munich and FC Augsburg? What do you think Bayern can accomplish as far as trophies this season? Are you excited to see Pep Guardiola coming to lead the club next season? And do you think FC Augsburg can survive the drop — they are doing fairly well in the Ruckrunde.
Fabian: Haha I knew you were going to ask those questions… I really hope that Bayern will be able to win all three titles, but at least the Bundesliga once again. They are playing very attractive and good football, so I am really excited to see how far they can actually go. I am very excited to see Pep Guardiola come to a top club like Bayern, he did a great job at FC Barcelona in the past couple of years as you can see by them constantly dominating. I just hope that Bayern and Pep will fit together and continue to play great and attractive football.
I think that Augsburg will be able to survive the drop once again, just like last year they waited until the Rückrunde to play their best and most successful football.
The Fanatic would like to thank Fabian for taking time out from training to share his thoughts with us. For anyone interested in learning more about FV Illertissen, their official club website is here and there is a video on YouTube produced by the club. The club’s February 23 match was postponed; their next scheduled match is March 2 at TSV Buchbach.