New Bayern Munich signing Nestory Irankunda became the second youngest player to score for Australia in a 5-0 win over Palestine in June 2024. - © IMAGO/RICHARD WAINWRIGHT
New Bayern Munich signing Nestory Irankunda became the second youngest player to score for Australia in a 5-0 win over Palestine in June 2024. - © IMAGO/RICHARD WAINWRIGHT

Bayern's Australian arrival Nestory Irankunda living his father's dream


Eighteen-year-old strike talent Nestory Irankunda, who recently made his first appearances for the Socceroos, has voiced his excitement after arriving at Bayern Munich, and explained how his father's dream has become a reality.

When Irankunda heard that Bayern Munich were interested in him while on international duty with Australia at the 2023 Asian Cup, the prodigious teenager was incredibly excited at the chance to fulfil his ambition of joining one of Europe’s most successful clubs.

After a sensational start to life at Adelaide United in Australia’s A-League, which involved some staggering goals, Irankunda found himself firmly under the spotlight at just 17. Clips of his direct, pacy, exhilarating style of play and sublime finishing soon captured the attention of Europe’s elite, with Bayern quick to make their interest in the Australian starlet known.

This is something that even he may not even have imagined, especially as he initially wanted to be a centre-back, as he told Bayern’s official website. “When I was younger, I was particularly impressed by centre-backs,” he said. “Back then, I really wanted to play in the same position.”

Irankunda has made a somersaulting goal celebration a spectacular trademark. - IMAGO/RICHARD WAINWRIGHT

Thankfully, his coaches knew better and wouldn’t let those free-kicks of his go to waste. However, it is not only his goals that are grabbing everyone’s attention. It’s also his celebration. Irankunda prefers the more acrobatic way of expressing himself after a goal by unleashing a backflip once the ball has hit the back of the net. Given his already evident knack for goal-scoring, it’s something that Bundesliga fans will be seeing plenty of in the future, while A-League defences will be glad to see him somersaulting elsewhere.

The eye-catching celebration is not just down to youthful exuberance, though. It’s a way of bringing his siblings with him on his journey into professional football. “My older brothers and cousins started doing it in the garden,” he recalled. “They put a mattress on the ground and practised… Since then, the backflip has been my goal celebration.”

Irankunda also holds his father, Gideon, close to his heart – just not in the same acrobatic way as his siblings. Although Irankunda senior was unable to fulfil his own dream of playing professionally in Europe, he was the catalyst for his son’s career choice.

“He’s very important in my life,” the Bayern youngster explained. “I started on this path in football because of him, and I owe a lot to my father. I've always looked up to him. It's a great feeling to now be living his dream, too, and I want to give it my all.”

Irankunda had been eligible to play for Burundi until his recent Australia debut. - IMAGO/DARREN ENGLAND

The striker has told of seeing photos of his father in a Bayern shirt back in 2006 when Nestory was born in the most fragile of circumstances - in a refugee camp in Tanzania after his parents fled war in Burundi.

That baby sheltering from conflict is now an extremely smart young footballer, who has his feet firmly on the ground. Having left Australia for the Bavarian capital in the past few weeks ahead of completing his official transfer on 1 July 2024, he already seems to be settling in well in Munich.

“I like it and am looking forward to my time here,” he said. “I want to prove myself here and show why the club brought me in.”

Irankunda has to look no further than his new teammate, Alphonso Davies, to see a success story of a young talent from outside of Europe - who also happened to be born in a refugee camp - thriving at Bayern, and he will be hoping he can follow in those same footsteps.