His name is Messenger Nzuzi “Ridle” Baku, and he just turned 20 a few weeks ago
He’s a midfielder on the reserve side of 1.FSV Mainz 05. Or was.
You can just call him Ridle, this hometown boy from Mainz, Bundesliga midfielder. And you can call his Bundesliga debut amazing.
The youngster made his name one to remember for Mainz supporters as he scored the final goal in Mainz’ much-needed win over European side RB Leipzig, He overcame an early mistake in central midfield to help the 05ers triumph, taking four shots and scoring a goal, but his path into the match was even more amazing than his solid top division debut.
Baku’s wondrous day involved a major detour. He was on the bus with his U23 teammates Sunday headed to Freiburg for their fourth division Regionalliga Sudwest fixture, what would have been Baku’s 29th match of the season with the reserve team. The 20 year-old, though, was surprised to be taken off the bus at a stop and instead be driven back to Mainz. Once there, he was given tactical instructions by Coach Sandro Schwarz and inserted into the Mainz starting XI for their crucial match against RB Leipzig.
The 05ers awoke Sunday in the relegation playoff berth, tied with VfL Wolfsburg on points but placed behind in the table because of a worse goal differential. Schwarz’ club had only earned five points in the last five matches, causing unease among supporters who rightfully feared the club being demoted, especially with previously moribund Hamburg showing a strong heartbeat the last few weeks. But a goal just before the half hour on a questionable penalty converted by Pablo Di Blasis gave Mainz a 1-0 lead over a Leipzig side who have in the last weeks found Bundesliga competition tougher than they have in their previous 20 months in Germany’s top division. Another goal in the 85th minute by Alexandru Maxim provided insurance for 05 fans, and then it was Baku’s chance to place the cherry on the Sunday sundae with a goal in injury time — a right footed effort to the left corner that eluded Leipzig’s fine goalkeeper, Peter Gulacsi.
Let’s hope that we’ll hear much more from Baku. He’s not without credentials — he’s earned 10 caps with the German U18s and another 10 with the German 19s, and been with Mainz since he was a 10 year-old youth player. Baku deseverdly received the honor of leading the Mainz fan block celebration after Sunday’s huge win. But wherever his future takes, him, Ridle Baku will always be remembered by Mainz fans for his role in helping save the club from demotion. As he noted
The fans were happy, my teammates were happy, I was happy – it was a good day
Along with his four shots, Baku also had two dribbles, drew three fouls, completed 82% of his 27 pass attempts along with an interception and clearance. Pretty good, especially for a player jumping up three divisions of competition in a matter of hours.