FAs a child, Lorian Stritzel had to defy his father's ban. “He knew you were always the nation's celebrated hero or idiot in goal,” Stritzel says. He still became a goalkeeper and currently Stritzel belongs to the first category. The usual goalkeeper of the SV Wehen Wiesbaden He is one of the best in the second Bundesliga. In this Friday's home game (6:30 p.m. in FAZ live ticker for the second Bundesliga and on Sky) against 1. FC Nürnberg, there are high hopes for him again.

However, there were other moments in his career. For Florian Stritzel the road to happiness was long. At the age of thirteen he moved to Hamburg SV. Left alone at home, Stritzel was the youngest player at boarding school. He worked his way up to the pros, but once there, the national players dueled. Rene Adler and Jaroslav Drobný for the coveted position between the posts. “I learned a lot from both of them,” says Stritzel, “but of course I didn't get to play.”

So he's really wrong

The path took him to SC Karlsruher and later to Darmstadt. But he didn't get to play there either. Before him were established professionals. “Many things have to happen for something to change in the goal. At that time he was not very aware of it,” says the 30-year-old professional. Like his “lily” coach Torsten Frings In 2017, in a match against Unión Berlin, the goalkeeper made a mistake. His father's concerns were confirmed at that moment. Stritzel Jr. had to wait almost two years for his next assignment.

In 2021 he moved Wiesbaden to the third professional league. The step back paid off: Stritzel finally became number one. Since last summer he has returned to the Second Division after a strange end to the season. On the last day of the match, players and fans celebrated the promotion together on the field, without knowing that their rival's match was still going on.

“At some point a fan tapped me on the shoulder,” says Stritzel, “and said Osnabrück had won. “I thought it was a bad joke.” Wiesbaden had to be relegated. Frustration quickly turned bitter. First “Depp”, then hero: “I knew it: whoever comes, we will go up.” Bielefeld arrived, Wiesbaden rose.

In his first season as starting goalkeeper in the second division, the 1.97 meter man is the guarantee of a six-point advantage over the relegation places. A specialized magazine named him the best goalkeeper of the first half of the season. The numbers bear it out: Stritzel has made the most saves (73) and also has the best save percentage of all goaltenders in the league (77 percent).

Stritzel plays especially well in front of a large crowd. He was named man of the match at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin and at the Millerntor Stadium in Hamburg. “What could be better than showing what can be done in sold-out stadiums?” says Stritzel.

“When things get difficult, I look for the target player in attack”

This self-confidence is at the side of his goalkeeping coach Marjan Petkovic the reason for the good results. But in order to develop that, he first had to mature. “Today, before a game, I think: what can happen, you are perfectly prepared, you feel good. You can’t do that early in your career,” Stritzel reports. He now has “the self-confidence to say: first you have to pass me.”

And yet he remains self-critical. What could he and his teammates improve? “All.” The focus is on playing more bravely with the ball, although only two teams in the league have conceded fewer goals, only three teams have scored fewer. “We have to develop the ability to play well in possession, even under pressure from the opponent, when developing the game,” says Stritzel, who plays an important role in this. He wants to open the game more often with short passes. For the newcomer, however, pragmatism is paramount: “We don't have to die in beauty. When things get tough, I look for the target player up front to take a breather.”

His good performances have put him in the spotlight of Michael Gspurning, although he made the mistake against Union Berlin as a substitute goalkeeper at the time, who saw Köpenicker up close. Today he is the goalkeeping coach of the Austrian national team.

Stritzel played some international matches for Germany, but Northern Lights also has a passport from his father's home country. “I like the people, the food, the coexistence. That excites me,” says Stritzel about Austria. “I'm on Gspurning's radar. “It would make me brutally proud.”

“At 40 the oven turns off”

Stritzel's contract expires after this season. He talks to Wehen Wiesbaden about a long-term collaboration. “The conversations are going well, but we are not in the final stretch yet,” says the goalkeeper. For Stritzel, family is more important than a lot of money: “Of course, in football you can quickly earn a hundred thousand euros. But at 40 the oven is off. So maybe he's divorced and rarely sees his kids. Life offers much more than that.”

Out of consideration for his children, Stritzel still lives in Darmstadt. He would also be open to moving further away. “I am always happy to listen to everything and, if the family agrees, I would never say in advance, for example, that I am not going to Saudi Arabia. That would be 'work and travel'.” However, it is “very likely” that Stritzel will stay in Wiesbaden next season. Florian Stritzel could once again be a famous player in a duel with the “Club”.