How Marius Bülter completed his late work at Schalke 04

Marius Bülter is one of the few professional footballers who know an adult life other than the wild dance in the limelight of the Bundesliga stadiums, which this FC Schalke striker is currently performing with virtuosity. He contributed two goals to his club’s 5-2 win over Hertha BSC on Friday, sending Schalke into ecstasy.

“Now we’re back,” he said, referring to the escalating relegation battle, which the Revier club, which had been beaten in the table at the time, had almost lost during the winter break. It is therefore quite fitting that Bülter in particular is the most radiant hero of this resurrection, because he himself was knocked out and almost lost on the way to a future in the Bundesliga.

When the 30-year-old striker celebrated his 25th birthday in 2018, he was still playing at SV Rödinghausen in the fourth-rate regional league; Back then, nobody could have imagined that this footballer would one day be celebrated by almost 60,000 wild spectators in Gelsenkirchen. Bülter has now scored six goals for Schalke in the past seven games and prepared another one, which gives him a very special role in his team, which was in the relegation zone for a few enjoyable hours until VfB Stuttgart’s late equalizer against BVB. “He’s the most stable,” said sports director Peter Knäbel about Bülter on Friday, “he’s really in there, and you can tell that from his posture.”

Studies and amateur sports

The term ‘late bloomer’ has often been used to describe this attacker’s development, but it is likely that his particular career path is also a work of the football zeitgeist. As a teenager, he was sorted out in the youth team of Preussen Münster. “On the way to the U19s, I was told that I wouldn’t be able to continue here,” he recently said in the ZDF sports studio.

That was a shock, and because the dream of a professional career seemed unfulfilled, he began to study mechanical engineering at Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, the title of his bachelor thesis: “Development and conception of a new drive unit for an automatic gluing device”. He also played football as an amateur and signed his first professional contract at the age of 25 with 1. FC Magdeburg, who had recently been promoted to the second division.

When Magdeburg slipped back into the third division a year later, he loaned himself out to Union Berlin, to a club that was a step ahead of its time, and that was probably Bülter’s luck. Even then, the “Iron” from Köpenick placed great value on willpower, unconditional commitment and a certain non-conformity; Technical weaknesses were not an exclusion criterion.

Bülter fitted in here as an unconventional winger who was never trained in the academy of a big club. “Maybe it’s a bit of the carefreeness that I wasn’t always told where to run. Sometimes I have things on it that you don’t know exactly what it was afterwards,” he once said.

complete late work

This footballer was probably a bit unlucky to grow up at the time when Pep Guardiola and national coach Joachim Löw were shaping world football, the credo at the time: We prefer to field a small, technically strong offensive player than a powerful one, but technically not perfectly trained goalscorer who can become a disruptive factor in the flow of combinations.

This thinking influenced many coaches in the lower leagues and in the youth academies. In the meantime, a rethink has taken place, and Bülter, who played a decisive role in Schalke’s promotion in 2022 with ten goals and 13 assists, is now in the process of completing his late work in the Bundesliga.

However, in the euphoria on Friday, it was important for him to emphasize that Schalke 04 “haven’t achieved anything yet” because the situation feels better than it is. After their victories in the direct relegation battle duels against Stuttgart, in Bochum and against Hertha BSC, Schalke are in a good position in the table, but in the remaining six Bundesliga games the team plays four times away in Freiburg, Mainz, Munich and Leipzig. There are also two home games against Bremen and Frankfurt. It’s not so easy to see where the necessary points should come from, but Bülter had at least a vague idea of ​​how the coup could succeed: “With the self-confidence that you got today.” He is familiar with late turns to the good .


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