In 2009, Germany’s U-21 side won the European Championships by thrashing England 4-0 in the final. That team included players such like Manuel Neuer, Benedikt Höwedes, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira and Mesut Özil, all of which have gone on to have great careers either in the Bundesliga or abroad.
Like in all national youth sides that win something, part of the team goes on to have great success and the other part falls into oblivion. Sandro Wagner scored two goals on that night in Malmö but is now trying to revive his career at Hertha Berlin in the 2.Bundesliga. Another player who was on the bench that day seemed to be going in the same way. Patrick Ebert did not make an appearance that night but after Hertha’s successful 2008-2009 season it seemed like he would be playing a pivotal role in his club’s future fortunes and pushing for a spot in the national team.
However, fast forward to June 2012 and he found himself without a team after he was released by the club he’d played for since the age of 11. He started training with Hoffenheim to maintain his fitness and hoped to impress enough to get a contract but it did not materialize. Neither Ebert or his agent knew what the future would hold. One man would though.
Surprisingly, it was a player for Wacker Innsbruck, all the way in Tirol, Austria, who was to play a big part in Patrick Ebert’s future. Iñaki Bea is a former Real Valladolid player who recommended Ebert to Valladolid’s sporting director and legend Alberto Marcos, who didn’t hesitate and contacted the now former Hertha winger and offered him the possibility to come and play in the most technical league in the world.
Apparently, Ebert phoned his countrymen and fellow teammates of that night in Malmö in 2009, Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira, for references on the Spanish League. After they both told him that the style would suit him, he agreed to the offer from Pucela and was quickly snapped up on a free transfer, a particularly good move for a team that is going through financial difficulties despite their recent success and promotion to La Liga.
For a man who was used to living in Berlin, one of the most cosmopolitan and modern cities in the world, moving to Valladolid, right in the heart of Castile, Spain’s most traditional and forgotten part, must have been a huge cultural shock. It was also a huge gamble since Valladolid were odds-on to get relegated again, being a yo-yo club for the best part of 10 years now.
Despite that, he’s made quite the impact. Against all odds, Valladolid sit comfortably in mid-table under the leadership of former Deportivo and Valencia defender and former Yugoslav international Miroslav Djukic, 9 points off relegation and the same number from a Champions League spot. That has been thanks to, in no small part, the former Hertha man, who with 5 goals and 5 assists is the club’s third top scorer behind Manucho (6) and Gonzalez (8). The numbers could have also have been higher had he not been out for 4 weeks after getting injured in the narrow 2-3 loss to Real Madrid back in December.
His goals this season have been spectacular for the most part: an excellent 25-yard drilled shot against Real Sociedad, a spectacular chip against Osasuna and a stunning goal against Mallorca this weekend, scoring into an empty net after leaving defender and goalkeeper sitting down after two clever drops of the shoulder. Since it was his first game back from his injury, it’s quite clear that his form before that wasn’t a flash in the pan.
He has definitely been one of the revelations of this year’s La Liga and will most definitely be attracting interest from bigger teams if his good form continues. For now though, he will continue playing in violet and white in the stress-free environment of the José Zorrilla, right in the heart of traditional Spain and far away from the city lights of Berlin.
Header courtesy of Jesús Diges – EFE