Marius Bülter was the star of Union Berlin's first-ever Bundesliga win as they beat Borussia Dortmund. - © imago images / Beautiful Sports
Marius Bülter was the star of Union Berlin's first-ever Bundesliga win as they beat Borussia Dortmund. - © imago images / Beautiful Sports
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Union Berlin's Marius Bülter: The Borussia Dortmund destroyer

When ex-Bayern Munich and Germany legend Lothar Matthäus says 'Du' to you, you know you have made it. Measured by that yardstick, Union Berlin striker Marius Bülter can climb no higher.

"World class" is how Matthäus described Bülter's stunning, match-deciding display against Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 3, using the informal version of 'You' in German as he heaped praise on Union's matchwinner during a post-match TV interview.

Given the Nationalmannschaft's 1990 FIFA World Cup-winning captain played alongside the likes of Jürgen Klinsmann, Jean-Pierre Papin, Giovane Elber and Rüdi Völler, Matthäus knows a top-quality forward when he sees one.

Watch: Union Berlin's first-ever Bundesliga win!

That's not the case for everyone, it seems, and certainly not for those for whom Bülter was not good enough for the top level. Having slipped through the scouting net and spent season after season navigating the backwaters of German football, Bülter - now 26 - must have imagined his time would never come.

Just 15 months before he was upstaging Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho, and outscoring Paco Alcacer, Bülter had built the safety net of an engineering degree that he completed in early 2019.

"I knew you could get a good job with that," he said of the university course he had started while playing for SV Rödinghausen in the fourth tier of German football.

But his five-year spell with the North Rhine Westphalia club also served as an education that has given him a very different day in the office. He ended the 2017/18 season with 20 goals in 30 matches, significant enough numbers to convince newly-promoted Bundesliga 2 side, FC Magdeburg, that Bülter could help them.

Bülter had one Bundesliga 2 season with Magdeburg before joining Union on loan. - imago images / Nordphoto

After making his professional debut at 25, he did help with four goals and as many assists in 33 second-tier matches last season. It was not enough to prevent his club from being relegated, but it had sufficient impact to promote him to the biggest stage of all in German football.

"It was my best performance. My first Bundesliga goals. Against Borussia Dortmund. On a Saturday evening. That I scored twice with my first two shots on goal is also down to a little bit of luck," gushed Bülter, as gobsmacked as anyone by his spectacular entrance into the top flight.

"It's still all difficult to take in. I came to Union with the goal of playing, and I still would have believed in myself even if I hadn't done that. But that it's happened so quickly has surprised me."

Bülter was not the only one taken aback as Lucien Favre's potential title challengers were beaten in the capital, a day Union will remember forever. The fuzzy nostalgic glow of their maiden Bundesliga win could also fuel the club's desire to make Bülter's loan move from Magdeburg permanent, an option they secured in the deal to bring him to Berlin.

Bülter's success has surprised everyone...including the man himself. - Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

Having finally achieved his childhood dream of becoming a Bundesliga player, Bülter is not about to bask in the glory though. In fact, having only recently moved into the professional game, he is fully aware he cannot afford to - even in training.

"It's a very different quality to what I've known. As a new player, you have to give 110 per cent and you can't afford yourself a break," said the man who now comes up against two-time Bundesliga champion Neven Subotic in training every day.

"I don't want to change everything now, and I'll try to simply tune out the fact my name is mentioned so often in public."

That might be more difficult if he gets the Stadion An der Alten Försterei faithful off their seats again this season.

Ian Holyman