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'Tall Guy' Maierhofer revels in stellar ascent

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'Tall Guy' Maierhofer revels in stellar ascent

Postby FCBayernNews » Mon Oct 30, 2006 9:15 pm


They call him "basketballer" or "Tall Guy". He was discovered playing in a league "where they can probably just about lace their boots without falling over," according to acerbic reserve boss Hermann Gerland. His lanky 6 ft 7 inch frame makes him an almost comical, disjointed figure at times. He is a chef by trade. And yet Stefan Maierhofer will start Bayern's Champions League clash with Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday evening as one of the home substitutes.

The 24-year-old Austrian received a rapturous reception from the die-hards watching the Munich reserves take on their VfB Stuttgart counterparts at the Grünwald stadium on Sunday, but just 24 hours earlier, the unfamiliar name was doing the rounds of a 69,000 full house at the Allianz Arena. The beanpole of a man came on for his Bundesliga debut two minutes from the end of the home side's 2-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt.

<b>Overwhelming experience</b>

"It was even a shade better than I'd imagined," the player told <b></b> afterwards. "You're down there, and they're singing your name from the South terrace - it's almost too much. It's just incredible that I got the two minutes, just getting on the pitch was fantastic."

With Lukas Podolski set for a lengthy lay-off, Maierhofer could be in for plenty more of the same. Coach Felix Magath has called him and reserve team-mate Christian Saba into the senior squad for the Lisbon showdown. "It's important for the team to see the occasional player among their ranks who no-one's really noticed before," the head coach remarked.

<b>Rapid rise</b>

Some 16 months ago, the only man who had really noticed Maierhofer might well have been Gerland, who recruited the "Tall Guy" from Austrian fourth division outfit SV Langenrohr. "I thought to myself, what's this guy all about? He was already a certain age but not the finished product," the reserve boss smiled. "But I thought to myself: we'll knock him into shape."

Not much more than a year later, Stefan now captains the Bayern reserves and lies second in the third division south scoring charts with eight goals in 13 matches. He has come on dramatically in terms of technical ability and tactics, and has always been a coach's delight for his commitment and passion. "He throws himself into everything and is incredibly willing to learn," Gerland explained.

<b>Dreams of Euro 2008</b>

He is ambitious too. "My main target is to appear for my country on home soil in 2008," he reveals. On current form, perhaps he will end up leading the Austrian line at a European Championship.
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