Bayern’s U19 Champs – Where are they now?

The FC Bayern Under 19 team won the league title three times in this century (2001, ’02, ’04). You’d expect most of the players to become professionals sooner or later, they’re some of the best of their age group, after all. That’s sometimes but not always the case. So let’s take a look at their careers:

We can sort them into three groups: the successful ones, the solid ones and the failed ones (only in terms of their football career, of course).

Group 1 (successful): These guys don’t need to be introduced, you know them if you follow the Bundesliga at least a bit.

  • Bastian Schweinsteiger (won U19 title in ’02): 237 BL appearances so far, all for Bayern, important part of German national team, world-class midfielder
  • Philipp Lahm (won in ’01 and ’02): 212 BL matches, FCB and DFB team captain, considered to be one of the best fullbacks in the world
  • Piotr Trochowski (’01, ’02): 190 BL matches, most of them for Hamburg, 35 caps for Germany, attacking midfielder
  • Zvjesdan Misimovic (’01): 157 BL appearances, now plays for former UEFA-Cup winner Galatasaray, regular in Bosnian national team
  • Andreas Ottl (’02, ’04): 104 BL games, defensive midfield backup for Bayern
  • Christian Lell (’02): 91 BL matches, 65 of those for Bayern, now right-back for Hertha BSC Berlin

Group 2 (solid): It was difficult to decide who belongs in this group, some of the following guys are somewhat known Bundesliga regulars, others are 2nd Bundesliga players.

  • Markus Feulner (’01): 80 BL appearances for Bayern, Köln, Mainz and Dortmund, now a stand-by player for Dortmund’s first team
  • Michael Rensing (’02): 57 BL matches, former Bayern goalkeeper, finally found another team (1. FC Köln), still potential for group 1
  • Markus Steinhöfer (’04): 41 BL matches, a regular in Frankfurt’s midfield for some time, now plays for Swiss champion FC Basel
  • Florian Heller (’01): 39 BL appearances, all for Mainz where he’s still a backup
  • Georg Niedermeier (’04): 34 BL games for Stuttgart, often a starting center back for the struggling VfB, small potential for group 1
  • Philipp Heerwagen (’01): 33 BL games, was first-choice goalkeeper for Unterhaching, now in Bochum (2. BL)
  • Michael Stegmayer (’02, ’04): 11 BL appearances for Wolfsburg, now a very solid defender for Unterhaching  (3. Liga)
  • Markus Husterer (’01): 2 BL matches (Stuttgart), played for different 2. BL teams, now in Offenbach (3. Liga)
  • Paul Thomik (’01, ’02, ’04): the only player who won all three titles, 100+ 2. BL appearances (currently for Union Berlin)
  • Barbaros Barut (’01, ’02): 80 2. BL matches, 59 Süper Lig appearances (currently for Konyaspor)
  • Erdal Kilicaslan (’02): left Germany to play in Turkey, 76 Süper Lig matches so far (Genclerbirligi at the moment)
  • Jan Mauersberger (’04): 82 2. BL games for Fürth and Osnabrück
  • Fabian Müller (’04): more than 50 2. BL appearances, currently a regular for Erzgebirge Aue
  • Sebastian Heidinger (’04): 28 2. BL matches for Düsseldorf and (currently) Bielefeld
  • Serkan Atak (’02): 67 Süper Lig games, currently plays in Turkey’s second level league for Rizespor

Group 3 (failed): Most are players who you never heard of and who you’ll forget three seconds after reading their name.

  • Borut Semler (’02, ’04): could also be in group 2, 7 caps for Slovenia’s national team but without a club now
  • Dominik Haas (’01, ’02): now plays for German amateur club TSV Rosenheim
  • Peter Endres (’01, ’02): now plays for German amateur club Goslarer SC
  • Martin Ritzler (’01): unknown, either stopped playing football or wrong name
  • Vincenzo Contento (’01): brother of Diego Contento, now plays for German amateur club Azzurri München
  • Yunus Karayün (’01): now plays for Austrian third level club Blau-Weiß Linz, small group 2 potential
  • Alexander Aischmann (’02): current club unknown
  • Johannes Höcker (’04): first-choice goalkeeper of 2004 team, now plays for German amateur club Anker Wismar
  • Philipp Rehm (’04): current club unknown
  • Rainer Storhas (’04): now plays for German amateur club FC Ismaning
  • Timo Heinze (’04): current club unknown
  • Jose Luis Ortiz (’04): 1 cap for Bolivia, current club unknown, possibly group 2 player
  • Marijan Holjevac (’04): now plays for German amateur club TSV Großhadern

As you can see, winning a youth title never means that you’ll definitely become a professional. Especially the 2004 team featured a lot of players whose careers are simply irrelevant now. On the other hand you can be sure that every U19 champion has at least one future Bundesliga regular playing for them so following those teams means that you’ll later be able to brag that you’ve heard of a certain player years before most others did. For example, the 2007 U19 team that lost the final against Leverkusen featured the following Bundesliga regulars: Thomas Kraft, Holger Badstuber, Mehmet Ekici, Thomas Müller and Toni Kroos. If you now wanna look at last season’s champion, here’s the starting lineup of Hansa Rostock’s successful U19:

Kevin Müller – Lennart Bremer, Tommy Grupe, Tom Trybull, Sascha Steinfeldt – Tom Weilandt, Kevin Pannewitz, Haydar Cekirdek, Manfred Starke – Moris Fikic, Lucas Albrecht

Chances are that you’ll see at least one of those names in the Bundesliga in a couple of years.

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