March 25, 2017

Reinhold Yabo – An unusual politician

Some German football fans might still be wondering why Reinhold Yabo hasn’t had the same meteoric rise to fame as some of his colleagues from the U-17 Germany side that he was captaining. The team that won the European Championship back in 2009 included such illustrious names as Mario Götze and Marc-André ter Stegen after all. However, the son of Congolese parents hasn’t made it to the top rung of German club football yet despite being one of the biggest talents of his generation.

After signing for 1. FC Köln in 2010 Yabo was awarded for his efforts in training with 4 Bundesliga matches by his coach Frank Schaefer. However, both Ståle Solbakken and Holger Stanislawski didn’t see enough potential in the midfielder to allow him to gather regular playing time in the first team. Having won the Fritz Walter medal in silver for both the U17 and U18 age groups showed what potential Yabo may have, but he still was in danger of becoming one of those talents that never quite made it to the top.

reinholdyaboA player who was once believed to have a bright future was only given the chance to shine for EffZeh’s second string side. A loan to Alemannia Aachen in the 2011/12 season saw Yabo getting more playing time in the second tier, but after 17 matches at the Tivoli he once again returned to Cologne to play 4th tier football.

These days Yabo can draw a few positives from his struggles back then, he told 11Freunde:

Of course, back when things weren’t looking bright from a sporting perspective, I asked myself: Am I ever going to make it? I also thought about changing career paths, or if I should get a second leg to stand on. However, I wasn’t willing to let go of my dream to become a professional footballer that easily though. Those difficult days have matured me.

A new beginning in Karlsruhe

Luckily Yabo was given his chance for a new start. In 2013 KSC took a chance on the talented youngster. After his arrival at the Wildparkstadion coach Markus Kauczinski helped Yabo to avoid becoming a failed talent. These days the 22-year-old is one of the most important players in Karlsruhe’s squad, always being vital when the team wins the ball, spreading the ball around nicely. Additionally, Yabo has helped the team with 6 goals and 5 assists during his two seasons at the club.

Yabo’s great form has been one of the catalysts that has transformed Karlsruhe into a team that can produce great results in the Bundesliga 2 year week in and week out. The 22-year-old himself is first and foremost grateful that he was given a chance after he arrived 2 years ago, he told Sport1.de last month:

I’m overjoyed that the club, and especially coach Markus Kauczinski, have given me the chance to display my qualities. I think I’ve taken a step forward from a sporting perspective over the last one and a half years.

Politics instead of Playstation

Besides getting his groove back on the pitch, Yabo has also managed to make a dent on the local political scene. About being elected to city hall he told Sport1.de:

A brother at my church asked me if I could support The voters community Together for Karlsruhe with my name during the upcoming local elections. Of course, I thought. And my name was put onto their list. After being elected to local office, I was a bit befuddled to be honest.

These days Yabo has to turn up to 3-4 meetings every month to represent his party. He’s currently sitting on the local committee for sports and the committee for integration. The 22-year-old is quick to point out that his party has been very helpful in lessening the burden of holding local office. Additionally he says, that he’s only been put on committees where he can relate to the subject matters at hand.

Bundesliga football – no matter what

Getting to grips with the world of politics might have been a challenge for Yabo, however, on Thursday he and his team are going to face an even bigger one when they take on HSV away from home in the first leg of the relegation play-off (the second leg will be on Monday in Karlsruhe). If KSC manage to dismantle former Karlsruhe player Bruno Labbadia’s side, Yabo might have the chance to show his qualities as a Bundesliga player in the Wildparkstadion next season.

However, the 22-year-old hasn’t extended his contract that expires at the end of the season so far. Should KSC fall short and allow the dinosaur of the Bundesliga to live on for another season in the top flight, Yabo might take up the step to the Bundesliga elsewhere.

Feel free to leave a comment below.

PS: Yabo was earlier this year featured on the Bundesliga fanatic’s list over the 20 most promising talents in the Bundesliga 2.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 30-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball and on the @AufstiegPod.