Brenden Aaronson has impressed recently for Union Berlin. - © IMAGO/Eibner-Pressefoto / Claudius Rauch
Brenden Aaronson has impressed recently for Union Berlin. - © IMAGO/Eibner-Pressefoto / Claudius Rauch

Brenden Aaronson on settling at Union Berlin, his brother Paxten and Christopher Trimmel's tatoos


Brenden Aaronson has had to bide his time at Union Berlin but has recently found his form in the German capital. In this wide-ranging interview with, the USA international discusses his time in Germany so far, as well as his relationship with brother and Eintracht Frankfurt ace Paxten... Two weeks ago, you scored the game-winning goal against Hoffenheim, and last week you registered the highest number of tackles against Heidenheim. How is your game evolving in the Bundesliga and what traits are you most proud to be developing in the league?

: "I didn't know that [about the Heidenheim game]! First off, it's been a hard year. I don’t think things went to plan in terms of the way we wanted to play. We had high standards being in the UEFA Champions League. In the league we wanted to finish really high, but we then struggled, not winning games and just having a tough time. For myself, it was about being patient and just wating for my time. That’s what I've been going through all season. I think what I’ve learned is that patience is a virtue and to keep working hard. I'm most proud of myself because I've found the hunger to keep going and to keep fighting. The week before last it was really rewarding to score the goal, as well as to start the game and play 80 minutes. That was huge for me." Is that something you have to learn: on the one hand being young and ambitious, but also having to be patient at times?

: "Not in a cocky way, but in the past I have played a lot. I played most games for Philadelphia Union, most games for Salzburg, and also in Leeds I played most games. It was a big transition to here and not playing as much, not being in the starting line-up as much. Having the patience but also having the hunger to keep going, keep fighting - that's always my personality. I want to be the best player I can be, so I have learned a lot this year. I think from the style of play point of view, the Bundesliga is such a high-tempo league. I've been in the gym a lot, getting stronger and that's something that's really helped my game more." Were you aware of the fan culture here at Union before you arrived?

Aaronson: "You could see from afar that they had a great fan base, just from hearing how good they've been doing. Being here in person and actually hearing how loud it is, it’s one of the best venues I've played in, honestly. I've been in a lot of the best stadiums in the world, but playing here, it's one of the loudest I've been in, for sure. It's a big part of why we have pushed on to do better right now. It's tough when you're in a slump. I was at Leeds and we went through a slump too. I know what it's like to be in a relegation battle, I know how much pressure there is and what it feels like as a player. Having the fans behind us the whole time, pushing us on, is huge, it gives us the confidence to keep going."

Watch: See Aaronson's winner in the match against Hoffenheim How has new coach Nenad Bjelica brought stability so swiftly to the team again, particularly defensively?

Aaronson: "It could be different things. He's come in and done a good job of filling the void that was there. It was tough for the club when Urs [Fischer] left. I hadn't had him for as long as most of the guys here, so it was definitely sad to see him go. I was in the US when I saw it happen so it was crazy to see from afar, but I can imagine what it was like at the club at the time. They were tough shoes to fill and he’s done a great job, he's given a lot of the younger guys, and the older guys, a lot of confidence. It's been really good for me to be able to go out there and enjoy myself." How important was captain Christopher Trimmel for your integration when you arrived at the club? And have you thought about getting a tattoo from him?

Aaronson: "He was huge for my integration, he's an amazing guy. You can pick out all the older guys but Trimmi is special. He's been here for so long, he knows the culture of the club, he knows how the club works, how I have to be on the field, how I have to work hard every day. Also, he's been a friendly face every day, and even though his first language isn't English, he’s always speaking to me in English and making me feel welcome. He’s an awesome guy and I have a lot of respect for him. I'm not a tattoo guy, I don't think I can pull one off, so no! He has a tattoo parlour so it makes sense [that he has 85 tattoos]." What are your aims for the season?

Aaronson: "Personally, it's just to keep doing what I’m doing, keep working hard for the team. That's what I’ve been trying to do all season, and the goals and assists will keep coming for me. I just have to keep a good attitude, keep fighting, keep working hard. For the team it's just to keep going the way we are going. We're confident right now, at the weekend we were a little unlucky so we now need to keep pushing, keep doing the things we are doing and it will get better. I think we're pretty close to Europe too, so it’s pretty funny that we went from all the way down here, now we are up there, so we can make some pretty big jumps. But we've got to keep working, and it's [Borussia] Dortmund at the weekend."

Christopher Trimmel (c.) has had a big impact on Aaronson in Berlin. - IMAGO/Matthias Koch You moved to Europe aged 20. How was it adapting to life in Europe way from your family and your brother?

Aaronson: "It was very difficult. Salzburg's such a great club, they helped me so much coming over, so it wasn’t bad at first. I had my girlfriend and my whole family back home, though, and they weren’t able to come over because of Covid. I got homesick at times, but the football was so good, we were winning a lot of things, I had a good group around me, and that helped a lot. The first time in my career when it started to go down a little bit was at Leeds, and honestly a little bit here. I haven’t played as much and it's been a little difficult, sometimes you just want to go home, you want to be with your family, you want to be with your mum and dad at home so it's difficult that you can't do that. It's football though, that's the risk you take to be over here. Now, it's nice, because my girlfriend is over here, she's been over here the whole year, so it's great having her here. Sometimes, of course, being American, you’d love to go home but it's difficult." What advice have you given your brother Paxten during his own loan opportunity at Vitesse on how he can break into the first team at Frankfurt next season?

Aaronson: "For him, it's time. The biggest thing for me when I was younger was that I was getting lots and lots of time playing at professional level. I was playing 90-minute games everywhere I’d gone, being a big part of the team, and that's what he needs to do. I think he needs this game time to keep learning, to keep playing at a professional level and learn how to have consistency. I think that’s what he hasn’t had in his career. If he has a great half a season in Vitesse, keeps scoring, keeps playing week-in, week-out, he has a really good chance to go back to Frankfurt and play." Two brothers, both professional footballers, both playing in Europe. How did that come about? Your parents must be very proud?

Aaronson: "Yeah, I think they're really proud, but if you talked to my dad about it, he knew from a young age we were a bit different to other kids, because we always wanted more. He was someone who didn't push us, more like ‘you come to me and I’ll help you’, because he wanted to see that we could get better. I was always racking my brain to figure out what I could get better at, and it’s still the same today. I always want to get better at things, learn and continue to grow. That’s one of both of our biggest traits and it helped us at a young age, it's really special. It stings now that he’s a bit further away, in the Netherlands, but hopefully I’ll be able to go visit him. He's already been here once so that was nice. It is nice having him in Europe, for sure."

Watch: Paxten Aaronson - Frankfurt's new US prospect Now that Paxton is in the Netherlands, I presume you meet up less often? Do you you chat every day?

Aaronson: "Mostly every day. Pax is a quiet guy, he goes about his own business. I’m more of the open brother, I talk to everybody, always calling my parents. He keeps himself to himself more. That’s just how he is. I always try to call him and open up to him. We play video games together which is nice because we’re in the same time zone. It’s good to have him on this side of the world." As the older brother, do you feel some kind of subconscious responsibility for him?

Aaronson: "Yeah, I do. When he first came over I was looking after him a little bit, not too much, but I was calling him more. Now I know he knows what he’s doing. He’s always been able to handle himself well so I trust that he’s good, really."