Last summer, I was incredibly excited to see Sascha Bigalke become an regular player for 1. FC Köln. I was convinced his abilities and style of play were going to mesh perfectly with Peter Stöger’s tactics and philosophy.
Nevermind that I was still thinking of Bigalke as the waterbug that was all over the pitch in a first-round DFB Cup match for SpVgg Unterhaching. Also disregard my utter lack of savvy when it comes to football tactics or anything along those lines. You should definitely not compound my ignorance of such matters with the fact I’d never once seen a Stöger-led team play.
It was all simply going to work perfectly, making Bigalke a bit of a cult figure in the club for his play-making contributions to a season that would be an overwhelming success, ending in promotion to the big time.
Then Biggie goes down in a friendly match with a knee injury, leaving him to contribute on FC-TV as an interviewer of his teammates.
Do not get me wrong. I absolutely loved his on-camera work with the microphone. Aside from the occasional backwards-turned baseball cap, he was great. But from a footballing aspect, it was an utter disappointment.
Today, I lost my summer 2014 pre-season favorite to have a memorable impact on a successful season.
Kazuki Nagasawa managed just three minutes in Tuesday’s training camp test match before going down with what turned out to be a torn ligament in his left knee. Reports today are that last year’s second-leg surprise will miss up to two months.
Two months is much better than the nine months-plus for which Bigalke was lost last year, but it still may be a bigger disappointment because we have a much better idea of what we’re going to be missing.
Unlike Bigalke, Nagasawa was training this summer having already played for the club under Stöger, and what he showed from the very first of his ten appearances for the Effzeh was somewhat reminiscent of what I remember seeing in Bigalke for Unterhaching, except that, considering Nagasawa was doing it with a new team on a much bigger stage, it seemed a lot more impressive.
Nagasawa made his second appearance for the club in the second half of what ended up being a scoreless draw at home to VfR Aalen and, in just over half-an-hour, had many clamoring for the Japanese newcomer to immediately see more playing time. Stöger must have seen the same thing, as Nagasawa was in the starting eleven for the next seven matches, which included the stretch run to securing promotion and the league title.
The second league is not the Bundesliga, so there is no telling what the plans for Nagasawa in the return to Germany’s top flight were, but they are put on hold for at least a little bit.
For now, we can just wish the guy a speedy recovery and maybe enjoy video of him taking a victory lap around the pitch while Brings plays “Kölsche Jung” during the championship party a few months ago.