Sat, 28 Jan 2023

by Oliver Trust

BERLIN, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- When investigating the secrets of German striker Niclas Fullkrug, one might end up in a kitchen.

When the 29-year-old is talking about his talents in front of his family's stove he could easily be describing his job profile as a footballer: Moving fast, intruding spaces, multitasking, following his gut feelings, and using all his senses.

Fullkrug's kitchen career might not stand for cooking award-winning cuisine, but he knows what he is doing and is leading the way.

To some extent, the kitchen story of the man who turned into one of the 2022 FIFA World Cups surprises sounds like his football career. As much as he loves to cook, he also loves football.

Educated in Werder Bremen's talent department, he failed to achieve his breakthrough in the second division in Furth, Nuremberg and Hannover.

Returning to Bremen triggered some success as the side was promoted back to the first division last summer with the help of his goals.

He accidentally made his way into the German World Cup squad after scoring ten league goals this season coming along with the fact, German coach Hansi Flick was desperately looking for a box striker.

Fullkrug faced a wave of doubts as he lacked international experience aside from never having hit the headlines over a longer period.

The story of Ups and Downs makes him one-of-us in the fan's perspective; not to speak of the first impression people have when meeting him.

Giving everyone a warm smile as a habit reveals the wide gap in the upper row of his teeth creating the impression, he rather is a rough sailor or a boxing athlete than a footballer.

Former Chinese Super League performer and Austrian international Marko Arnautovic back in Bremen created the nickname of "Gap-filler" undergoing a revival at the Qatar tournament due to Fullkrug scoring the equalizer in Germany's decisive group encounter against Spain last Sunday.

Now not only German fans out of Bremen but the entire football world got to know "the gap".

So far not having pushed through with full treatment makes Fullkrug even more adorable as it is a problem many people might have faced during their life.

Shortly, a new nickname might have to be found as Fullkrug is speaking about finishing the tooth job after he has for a longer time interrupted treatment.

As a youngster, he wore braces and the plan was to fill the gap with an implant, but he first concentrated on his football career.

162 season goals in the under-9 team of his home club TSV Ricklingen triggered hopes he might be gifted with talent as most of his family is.

Father Andreas and grandfather Gerd played up to the second division while sister Anna-Lena plays in the women's third tier for Hannover.

"Heading skills are a family tradition," he said.

Taking things easily seems one of his characteristics as he admits to enjoying the World Cup despite "us having to improve and finish the group job next Thursday."

Germany is facing Costa Rica in the third game and needs his goals to make it a victory to proceed to the next round.

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