A recent winner of the 2023 MLS Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year award, St. Louis CITY SC's star shot stopper Roman Bürki previously leapt onto the global soccer scene in the Bundesliga with Freiburg and Borussia Dortmund.
St. Louis’ first-ever player to win an individual MLS award, club-captain Bürki is currently flying high in the United States with the expansion side he signed for in 2022. It’s a world away from Münsingen, Switzerland, where the 6’2” goalkeeper was born and raised.
Having featured for the likes of Young Boys, Thun, FC Schaffhausen and Grasshoppers – with whom he won the Swiss Cup – Bürki left the country of his birth to begin his Bundesliga adventure with Freiburg. In the 2014/15 campaign, coach Christian Streich was on the lookout for a new No.1 after Oliver Baumann made the move to his current side Hoffenheim. Streich and Freiburg saw plenty of potential in the 23-year-old Bürki – who had previously won 12 caps with Switzerland’s Under-21s – and swooped to sign him for the Black Forest side.
He would make the first of his 210 Bundesliga appearances in Freiburg’s visit to face Eintracht Frankfurt on 23 August 2014, a game the visitors lost 1-0.
Although the campaign would ultimately end with the disappointment of relegation for the Baden-Württemberg-based side – who finished second from bottom in the standings – their ever-present 'keeper achieved plenty of praise for his eye-catching saves and ability to keep his side in contention in several closely-contested encounters. Indeed, despite going down, Freiburg’s goals against column was only bettered by seven teams in the division, with Bürki’s nine clean sheets that term helping to draw the attention of interested suitors.
Meanwhile, much further north, developments at Borussia Dortmund were gathering pace. Legendary coach Jürgen Klopp was on his way out of the club with Thomas Tuchel instated as his successor. With the team’s ageing shot stopper Roman Weidenfeller ready to begin winding down his career, BVB were in need of a goalkeeper to help get the Tuchel era up and running. Bürki was chosen as the man to step between the posts and he was officially unveiled in Black-and-Yellow on 14 June 2015.
Watch: A Bürki goalkeeping masterclass!
Almost two months to the day later, the Swiss keeper made his competitive BVB bow in a 4-0 victory against Borussia Mönchengladbach. Bürki would miss just one game in the German top-flight in 2015/16 and he completed 12 shut-outs as Tuchel’s Dortmund finished runners-up to Bayern Munich. The Bavarians would also pip Die Schwarzgelben to DFB Cup glory, Bürki and his disappointed teammates only losing out in the Berlin showpiece on penalties after the final ended scoreless.
By this time a household name in Bundesliga circles, the highly dependable goalkeeper – famed for his flying saves and solid distribution skills – began the 2016/17 season as Dortmund’s undisputed No.1. Facing Bayern on Matchday 11, BVB were in need of a positive result as they sought to close a six-point gap to the then league leaders.
A Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goal won the game for the jubilant hosts but for Bürki the celebrations were soured when a post-match scan revealed he had suffered a broken metacarpal bone and would thus be out of action for over two months.
Fortunately for Dortmund, their goalkeeper would return to help the side to go all the way to the final in the DFB Cup once again. The German capital would this time turn Black-and-Yellow in celebration, with Bürki helping Dortmund to a 2-1 win against Eintracht at the Olympiastadion. Tuchel’s team finished the Bundesliga campaign in third spot behind runners-up RB Leipzig and champions Bayern.
The subsequent season couldn’t have started any better for Bürki, with the Swiss shot stopper becoming the first goalkeeper to keep five consecutive clean sheets in the opening five Bundesliga matches. A year later, he was celebrating 100 games in the division when Dortmund defeated Augsburg 4-3 at the Signal Iduna Park.
Watch: Brilliant Bürki and five top Bundesliga saves
Supercup glory against Bayern and one more runners-up spot in the Bundesliga as well as a run to the Round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League formed part of Bürki’s 39 appearances across all competitions in 2019/20. He would return from injury to eventually oust compatriot Marwin Hitz from the No.1 spot in 2020/21 to feature in one more DFB Cup success, BVB this time putting Leipzig to the sword before lifting the trophy in the German capital.
That would effectively be Bürki’s crowning glory in Black-and-Yellow, with the nine-time Swiss international falling behind new signing Gregor Kobel and Marvin Hitz under new coach Marco Rose in 2021/22. In all, the man who would go on to become the MLS Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year played a total of 210 Bundesliga games for Freiburg and Dortmund, managing an impressive 69 clean sheets.
Now an MLS All-Star, St. Louis CITY’s golden goalkeeper is helping to pave a new start for the Missouri outfit as part of an impressive career that has received the prestigious stamp of made in the Bundesliga.
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