All good things must come to an end, but in the case of Eintracht Frankfurt striker Alexander Meier, the end has come too soon.
News of Meier’s departure from the club of his dreams has come as a quite a shock to many. The fan favourite will be sorely missed, and tributes are already pouring in for the ‘Fußballgott’.
The modern football era is not overly renowned for players staying anywhere for more than a few seasons. Players tend to grab at the chance of a better contract elsewhere or to jump ship when a club is relegated. Those trends make the 14-year career of Alex Meier at the Commerzbank Arena all the more remarkable and deserving of all the tributes that will no doubt be heading his way in the coming days and weeks.
Sadly, another facet of modern football is the business side, where the achievements of the past count for little in the present if it doesn’t make financial sense. Eintracht Frankfurt’s decision not to offer Meier a new contract is an example of that facet.
“We all know Alex’s Meier’s contribution to the club,” said the club’s board in a statement. “He’s remained loyal to Eintracht for all these years, working tirelessly to ensure the club came through a difficult period to become an established Bundesliga club.”
“We’ve always fulfilled our contractual obligations in the way you’d expect for a player of such standing. We think we’ve treated Alex in a fair and appropriate manner, communicating to all parties in an open and transparent way. Of course, we’re aware that many people would have liked to have seen Alex continue in an Eintracht shirt, but we took a footballing decision to take a different direction, increasingly relying on younger players. After such a long period out injured, Alex remained highly professional and fought his way back to fitness. He knows he’s always welcome here at Eintracht.”
And so he should be.
Meier joined the Adler back in the summer of 2004 following their relegation to the second tier having made just four appearances for Hamburg in the Bundesliga without scoring. He debuted against Alemannia Aachen scoring in a 1-1 draw and went on to score ten goals in his first campaign including a hat trick in the penultimate game against Energie Cottbus as Frankfurt won instant promotion back to the top flight. He matched his ten-goal tally in the following season as the Adler made it to the DFB Pokal final, which they ultimately lost to Bayern Munich).
Six seasons in the Bundesliga came to an abrupt halt in the 2011-12 with Frankfurt suffering the dreaded drop again, but despite the demotion, Meier stayed and once again fired the goals to propel Eintracht back up at the first time of asking scoring 17 league goals in the process.
His apogee however was to come in the 2014-15 season when he won the Bundesliga Torjägerkanone despite missing the final seven games of the season through injury. With 19 goals, he finished two ahead of both Robert Lewandowski and Arjen Robben.
The knee injury which ended his season healed, but he then suffered an ankle injury which required surgery, meaning he had gone under the knife three times in just a few months. He was unable to appear in the season just gone until the final home match of the season, but the Fußballgott returned in perfect fashion, coming off the bench to score the third and final goal in a 3-0 win over Hamburg.
Sadly, it seemed to be merely a gesture from Niko Kovac. Meier was omitted from the squad for the DFB Pokal final which saw Frankfurt stun Bayern. He did however get to receive the Pokal alongside captain David Abraham. Speaking after the cup triumph, Meier seemed to believe he still had a future at the club.
“Eintracht Frankfurt has been my sporting home for fourteen years and it has meant a lot to me to play here,” said Meier on Eintracht’s website. “It has been an honour to wear the eagle on my chest, and I am proud of all the beautiful moments.”
“I feel fit, I’ve worked a long time on my recovery and I want to go on, that’s the most important thing for me.”
The club management apparently thought differently, however, so it is Auf Wiedersehen to the Fußballgott. Meier gained his “football god” nickname while Frankfurt was in 2. Bundesliga as he developed into an instinctive goal scorer, providing 137 goals in 379 matches, helping Meier to finish third in the club’s all-time list of scorers behind Bernd Hölzenbein (188) and Bernd Nickel (151).
Meier has the guaranteed option of a future role at the club as an ambassador or youth trainer, but the 35-year-old feels it is too early to be hanging up his boots just yet and that there are plenty of goals left in him.
“I am very, very disappointed,” says Meier. “I don’t know where I’ll go, where I’ll live. I belong to this city- it is my home.”
It’s the end of an era in Frankfurt, but let’s just hope there is another chapter to come in the glorious career of Alexander Meier- Fußballgott.
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