The year is 2010 and Mainz sit top of the Bundesliga after a spectacular start to the season sees them win their first seven league games. New coach Thomas Tuchel has the Nullfünfer playing an exciting, attacking brand of football with three ‘twenty-somethings’ stealing the show.
A regular sight at this time was the goal celebration of that trio of Andre Schürrle, Lewis Holtby and Ádám Szalai- racing to the corner flag and rocking out with Schürrle on air guitar, Szalai on air drums and Holtby taking the imaginary microphone.
Bayern were beaten 2-1 at the Allianz Arena, and the dazzling young trio were dubbed ‘The Bruchweg Boys’ in the press. Tuchel’s side would eventually finish a highly respectable fifth and qualify for Europe thanks to the creativity of both Holtby and Schürrle combined with Szalai’s goals.
It was however to be the end for the Bruchweg Boys. Schürrle joined Bayer Leverkusen for €8.5 million, Holtby returned to Schalke from his loan, and Szalai joined the Königsblauen two years later.
Those were the days!
Mainz however have now moved to bring back part of those glory days with the re-signing of Hungarian striker Szalai from Hoffenheim on a free transfer. With the 31-year-old seemingly playing little part in the plans of new TSG coach Alfred Schreuder, he has rejoined his former club.
“To re-sign here is an emotional moment for me” Szalai told the club’s website. “When I drove into town yesterday, a lot of great memories were going through my head on the drive back in. There were a few other offers, but I’m glad I didn’t rush things – the decision to come here was the right one, I felt it.
“Now it’s time to focus on the tasks ahead, and I’m looking forward to this new challenge and to stepping out on to the pitch for the Zerofivers again,” he added.
Sporting director Rouwen Schröder also believes the return of one third of the Bruchweg Boys is a great move for the club. “Ádám Szalai could be the puzzle piece we were missing – he is great both on and off the pitch, and as an experienced striker in his prime, he is strong on the ball and incredibly dangerous in the box.
“Ádám knows where the goal is, has a good character and has great leadership qualities. He will enrich, improve and lead our attack. You don’t have to explain Mainz to Ádám and he wanted to come back to us the minute he was transfer listed so we seized the opportunity straight away. We’re happy that he is back here in Mainz.”
What are the chances of a full reunion? Lewis Holtby is currently without a club after leaving Hamburg, while Schürrle signed for Spartak Moscow in the summer.
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