A recent weekend saw a son of Bavaria walk onto a football pitch as a champion, receiving a respectful guard of honour from opposition players.
His club side were back atop the mountain, playing the league’s best football, well above the rest. .
But hold on a minute . . . this isn’t Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, or even Toni Kroos.
No, this is someone who’s been somewhat forgotten in German football circles.
“So,” you ask, “who is this mercurial German talent?”
Thomas Broich, remember him? Not quite? I know it’s a bit hazy, isn’t it? Let me remind you.
Nicknamed “Mozart” in his younger days while playing alongside Lukas Podolski and Bastian Schweinsteiger in the German under-21’s. Berti Vogts considered him to be amongst the best players during his early days at Borussia Mönchengladbach. He showed so much promise, Borussia Dortmund even contemplated replacing their Czech midfield maestro Tomas Rosicky with him. However, Broich never reached the heights the fans expected to see. While both Podolski and Schweinsteiger went on to play for Broich’s beloved hometown club of Bayern München, Broich himself struggled, eventually falling out of love with football and into obscurity.
Instability marked Broich’s early professional career; over the course of six years he’d move from Borussia Monchengladbach to 1. FC Köln, before spending a very short spell with 1. FC Nurnberg.
Before signing for the “Der Club,” he was contemplating a move to Australia’s A-League to join Adelaide United. According to reports in Australia at the time, Broich’s agent Rob Schneider had sent DVD’s to the South Australian club in hopes they’d like what they saw and bring Broich to the southern hemisphere, but former Gladbach assistant manager Michael Oenning ultimately pursuaded Broich to join him at 1. FC Nürnberg, where Oenning had become head coach.
The Adelaide incident wouldn’t be the last time Broich flirted with the idea of playing in Australia, with a move to Brisbane Roar not too far away into the future, but life in Germany was progressively worsening. Broich described the feeling as “football depression.”
Pressure, media attention, and the constant reminder of not fulfilling early promise would eat him up inside. He was “exhausted” at the mere thought of kicking a football.
For Aljoscha Pause’s documentary Tom Meets Zizou, Thomas Broich was interviewed during his time at Der Club, and he told Pause, “take a look at this flat. It looks like I just moved here, to a city where I don’t want to live, and I walked into a situation which I didn’t want to face.”
“I stood on the field and felt totally wiped out without having kicked the ball once, without being exhausted,” he said in an interview with The World Game, reflecting upon his time in Nuremberg.
His personal life would be affected by his problems on the pitch, feeling “negative” about both football and life.
“I felt like I had concrete blocks on my legs. I felt like I had lead flowing through my veins. For weeks I was the worst player at practice. I shouldn’t have been allowed to train,” he said.
He needed a change, a new environment. A move away from Germany was the only option.
“It was the whole thing really. I didn’t like the pressure in Germany. It’s all about results. It’s not about performance or team spirit. I didn’t quite fit in there so I needed a change,” he said.
And a change is what he got.
And he thrived, winning consecutive Championships, two “Premiers Plates,” a 36-match unbeaten run, and a Johnny Warren Medal (League’s Best Player) after finally talking his talents to Australia. Broich is now widely regarded as among the best imports into the A-League since it’s inception in 2005, if not the best ever.
One of the finest goals you’ll ever see.
His football legacy was finally growing, but amid all the trophies and success, a sense of inertia set in during his third season down under. A sense of complacency left a team of champions languishing briefly near the lower reaches of the A-League.
A coaching change sparked Broich and teammates back into life as they made a run to the semifinal, ultimately knocked out by beaten finalists Western Sydney.
It was a big turning point in Broich’s tenure at Brisbane; for once he didn’t have it his own way. The team of champions bowed out.
The following season Brisbane Roar were less-fancied. Broich, and his side, was thought to be on a downward trajectory, but Broich and his Queensland side have been the best thing about the current A-League season.
With a 10-point lead and Premiers Plate clinched, the Roar seem destined for more silverware. As for Broich, he’s enjoying what has arguably been his most-consistent season yet.
You what they say about a good bottle of wine.
In a recent interview with News Corp a month ago, Broich wondered at how what he thought was going to be a two- or three-year spell has turned into much more. “It turns out that [Brisbane] feels sort of like home now,” he said.
Thomas Broich reveals his humorous side on the Australian TV Show ‘B-League’.
As he feels a sense of home in Australia, he plans to stay and possible finish his career with Brisbane Roar. Broich is hopeful of signing again with the Roar after his current deal and is looking into the future to continue his influence, but on the next generation of Australians.
“There’s a lot of potential in football in Australia. To unleash that potential, it needs a good quality of coaching, and I can definitely see myself in that role,” Broich said to the Courier Mail.
“I’ll have to learn the job first, but I do have a bit of experience, and I’d love to be part of the homegrown process in Australia.
“I’m not sure how I want to approach it, if I want to take some time off first or make the transition straight away.
“But now is not the time to think about that. I’m focusing on still being a player.”
The career of this undoubted Brisbane Roar legend is far from over. He’s enjoying the best period of his career, and, despite the Premiers Plate triumph, there are still more prizes to be won, with another home Grand Final on the horizon.
Bayern Munich may be making headlines globally, but this talented German from Munich is a part of a team that’s creating history. . . just on another continent.