Why Germany loves Australian footballers


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Five Australians now feature in Germany’s top two tiers, with Alou Kuol and Ajdin Hrustic at Bundesliga clubs Stuttgart and Eintracht Frankfurt, while Iredale, Jackson Irvine and Brandon Borrello all signed for 2. Bundesliga clubs Paderborn, St Pauli and Dynamo Dresden respectively, this summer.

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A sixth Australian, Socceroos star Mat Leckie, returned to the A-League this year after 10 years in Germany.

Iredale, who joined Paderborn last month from Bundesliga giant Wolfsburg, believes German clubs crave many of the traits synonymous with Australian footballers.

“I think a lot of Australians have that hunger to want to keep working hard for the team, and in Germany they coach you to keep working and never give up,” he said. “I think this mentality with Australian players really suits the league.”

Iredale is joined by his compatriots in Borrello, who signed for Dynamo Dresden and St Pauli’s Jackson Irvine in the 2. Bundesliga and the former SC Heerenveen striker believes the German second tier shouldn’t be underestimated, comparing the standard to the Eredivisie.

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“Some people will look at the league and say it’s a second league and not know the level of this league, but the 2. Bundesliga is a very strong league. You can pretty much compare it to the Eredivisie,” he said.

Iredale’s path to Paderborn comes after a frustrating few years at Wolfsburg, where he started with 10 goals in 13 league games in his debut season for the reserves, before his progression was stifled by a run of injuries and a suspended season amid the COVID19 pandemic.

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The fit-again 21 year-old is relishing the challenge of first team football at a Paderborn side determined to bounce straight back into the Bundesliga after its relegation last campaign.

“It’s exactly what I wanted, I wanted to take a step into an environment which was going to challenge me and take my game to the next level,” Iredale said. “When I left Wolfsburg I was one of the older players at 21, now I’m one of the youngest players in the squad and I’m trying to learn from the guys as much as possible”

In Germany’s top tier, Ajdin Hrustic grabbed headlines last season for his spectacular late equaliser in his Bundesliga debut, while Alou Kuol scored on his Stuttgart debut after signing from Central Coast Mariners in April.

The future looks bright for Iredale and Co in Germany, on the well-trodden path laid by their predecessors including, Leckie, Robbie Kruse, Mitch Langerak, Joshua Kennedy, David Zdrilic and Ned Zelic – who reached the UEFA Champions League final with Borussia Dortmund in 1993 before winning the league two years later.