“My injuries aren’t a catastrophe – catastrophes are what you see every night on the news. I’m here to start a new chapter.”

It is clear that new VfB Stuttgart signing Holger Badstuber, a man plagued by injuries in recent years, is not looking for any excuses as he prepares for the new season.

Up until December 2012, Badstuber was a star for club and country and one of Germany’s biggest talents. A Bundesliga debutant in 2009, he missed just 13 league matches in his first three senior campaigns and had accumulated 31 caps for Germany by the time he suffered a cruciate ligament rupture in a league game against Borussia Dortmund. The injury ended his season and was the precursor to a series of setbacks that meant he has played just 41 times in total in a little under five years.

Badstuber (r.) writhes in agony after suffering the first of two cruciate knee ligament injuries in December 2012.

It has since become almost impossible to separate Badstuber from his injury troubles. In his professional career he has missed more games (220) than he has played in (189), and he turned 28 in March. A career that promised so much has been dealt blow after blow, but Badstuber, now back at Stuttgart, the club he joined as a boy, is convinced he has much to give the game still.

“I want to draw a line under the last few seasons and look forward,” he said in an interview with the magazine Socrates. “I definitely have a few years at the top level left in me.”

The move is a new beginning for the Memmingen-born defender. Having spent the second half of the 2016/17 season on loan at Schalke, he found himself unattached this summer when Bayern announced his contract would not be renewed.

Leaving the club he had represented since the age of 15, Badstuber had offers from a host of sides, including UEFA Champions League teams, but the former Germany international’s heartstrings were pulled when Stuttgart entered the race to sign him.

“I had some offers and I rejected some very good ones from abroad. I just didn’t get that feeling with any club like I did with Stuttgart. Here I can take responsibility and that’s what I’ll do. I chose Stuttgart because the challenge here is perfect for me. I wore the jersey proudly 17 years ago, and I will do it again.”

In a newly-promoted side where his oldest fellow defender – Marcin Kaminski – is just 25, Badstuber’s influence and experience could indeed be invaluable. Even with his fitness issues, which include two ruptured knee ligament injuries and a broken ankle, Badstuber is still a five-time Bundesliga champion. No longer a hot young prospect, his job is now to impart his knowledge to the likes of Kaminski, 21-year-old Timo Baumgartl and others.

It is as if life and football begin anew for Badstuber as he gears up for the new campaign with the Bundesliga 2 champions. He is not looking for pity or sympathy but familiar surroundings where he can re-ignite his career. It appears he has found just that in Baden-Württemberg.

Dennis-Julian Gottschlich/Bernie Reeves

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