New York native Eric Friedlander signs for Bayernliga aspiring Dergahspor Nürnberg
Nürnberg– After arriving in Germany in late June as a part of our Pro IFX 30 Day program, Friedlander signs for Dergahspor through the end of the 2014-15 season. Dergahspor is regarded as the top club in the city behind the reserve squad of 1 FC Nürnberg, who presently compete in the Regionalliga Bayern- the 4th tier in the German League system.
The New York native comes from Merrick, New York; a suburban Long Island community 35 minutes east of Manhattan. Friedlander joins us after having completed his Freshman campaign at the University at Buffalo, which competes in the MAC (Mid-Atlantic Conference). He took some time to answer some questions about himself as a player and his goals for the upcoming campaign.
Q: You also joined us last summer (2013) for our Pro IFX 30 Day program as well. Can you give us some detail about how your first experience went over in Germany and why you decided to come back?
A: After last summer’s IFX 30 Day program I returned to preseason in-shape, and very ready. My speed of play was much faster, I was fitter, and I was more comfortable on the ball than ever before! This year I became more focused on self improvement (concentrating on fitness, nutrition, and other individual work). I knew that I had to return to IFX for the summer, as I wanted to be ready for my sophomore preseason at UB. After spending time on trial with several very good teams, however, I realized that I wanted to make my dream a reality and the only way to do it was to remain in Germany and go for it.
Q: Prior to coming to Germany, both last summer and this summer, what was your background of the football landscape of the country? Did you follow the German Bundesliga?
A: I didn’t have as much background on German football as I should have, although I did know how good the German National Team was, and predicted that they would win the World Cup. I predicted that for several reasons. Germany, and German soccer, seems to be very organized and specific: if you don’t fit into a coach’s tactics or system, he will not take you on his team. Therefore, you always have to do what the coach asks, whether it’s play one or two touch, or simply pick up the cones and the pennies. To be honest, I did not follow the German league much, but now since I am here in Germany, I will be following the league much closer, because I realize how good German soccer is. I will watch, and try to emulate how players play in my position.
Q: I’m sure you watched the World Cup, and naturally had some interest in seeing the US Men’s National Team… do you think that Jürgen Klinsmann has had a positive effect on the Men’s Program given some of the marquee results attained?
A: Yes, Klinsmann has definitely had a huge impact on the United States National Team. He made a big decision before going to Brazil in not taking Landon Donovan; opting for then 18 year-old Julian Green over the very experienced Donovan. Klinsmann was thinking about the future of the team in this situation. He knew that we would not win the World Cup this year, so he wanted to advance as far as possible, and get the young guys as much experience as possible. It really appeared to work out, as Deandre Yedlin (Akron), who was playing in the MLS, is now getting a lot of looks from very big European clubs.
Q: Getting back on track here with your personal development and recent success in finding a club, can you touch base on the trialing process and what coaches are trying to identify from players that are on trial.
A: Trialing for clubs in Germany is enjoyable, but can be a very tough experience, as you don’t know the language yet. When you are at these sessions, it is most important to be 100 percent focused on the coach, and what he is doing. It is also helpful and important to find a guy on the club who speaks English, so he can translate for you. The German coaches are nice guys, and are very patient with you, so you have to be patient with them and show them that you’re a good player, and can help the team. These coaches look for players who are technically sound, fit, and strong. They like players who are good with the ball, and players who can play quickly, one and two touch. The last thing to do at a German Club training is to take a ton of touches, and try to beat defenders 1 v 1. My advice for newcomers is to be patient with the trialing process, and show the German coaches how much you care about football.
Q: You had a few teams that inquired about your services, can you touch base on your attributes as a player, what you think your strengths are and what you can offer to a club team in Germany.
A: I think I am very fit, and pretty strong physically. I will put 100 percent effort into every practice, because you only get out what you put in. On the technical side, my first touch is pretty good, and I like to play quickly, one and two touch. One of my biggest attributes is that I love to hit that long diagonal ball to open up defenses. Not many can hit that ball, so when coaches see me do it, they seem to be very impressed.
Q: Dergahspor Nürnberg is a very respected club, known for having technical players and a fast paced style of play…, how do you see yourself fitting into the squad. Have you identified a position that you think you can exploit and add some needed energy to?
A: I see myself fitting into the squad pretty well. I like all the guys on the team – now I have to learn German! I see myself playing as an outside back, or a outside midfielder, and possibly in the Attacking Center Midfield role. I feel that I will fit into this team very well, because I am technically sound, and I am willing to run ninety minutes non-stop. Another reason that I picked this team is because the training sessions are very serious, and competitive, and I think this will make me a better player, and keep developing me, as I look to impress coaches along the way in Germany.
Q: Going into the season Dergahspor had targeted promotion into the Bayernliga as its main objective [after having failed to do so the past two seasons, notably losing out in a relegation fixture to now Regionalliga ambitious FC Amberg of the Bayernliga]. Along with yourself the club made some other signings and hired a new coach that is well respected in the region. Can you describe your approach coming into this new endeavour, having joined a club with high ambitions and having no prior European competition under your belt. Does that fluster you a little?
A: I am very excited to have signed for Dergahspor, and I feel that it was definitely the right decision. All of the players, the coach and the board of directors, seem to be striving for success, and that is very good to see and hear. I like a team that is trying to move up, and keep getting better, and better. The most important part is to work your hardest everyday in practice, and not stop learning.
Q: Lastly what are you main objectives as a player this season, obviously you are still in a developmental age and there are things to improve on, what are some of those things?
A: First of all, I need to learn German, very quickly. I will put in many hours of the day to do this, and I don’t think I will have a problem with learning it pretty quickly. In terms of soccer, I would like to work on playing quicker, and I would like to really improve on my left foot, and if possible, hit the same diagonal ball with my left as I do with my right. If I can do this, I think I will be a very, very dangerous player. I will be working everyday on my own to do this, and achieve my goals.
Eric, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us, we will be sure to follow your progression with Dergahspor throughout the season.
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