"Do it, man. You can't go wrong in the Bundesliga!" USA goalkeeper Zack Steffen (l.) spoke to former Borussia Dortmund ace Christian Pulisic (r.) prior to joining Fortuna Düsseldorf on loan. - © imago images / Icon SMI
"Do it, man. You can't go wrong in the Bundesliga!" USA goalkeeper Zack Steffen (l.) spoke to former Borussia Dortmund ace Christian Pulisic (r.) prior to joining Fortuna Düsseldorf on loan. - © imago images / Icon SMI
bundesliga

Zack Steffen: "I spoke to Christian Pulisic and Gregg Berhalter about the Bundesliga"

Zack Steffen has revealed how advice from USA teammate Christian Pulisic and coach Gregg Berhalter influenced his decision to join Fortuna Düsseldorf on a season-long loan from Manchester City.

Chelsea attacker Pulisic got his career break at Borussia Dortmund, making 127 appearances - including 90 in the Bundesliga - during a five-year stint at the club.

Berhalter, meanwhile, spent seven years in Germany as a player with Energie Cottbus and 1860 Munich, before completing his coaching licence at the renowned Hennes-Weisweiler Academy in Cologne in early 2013.

Steffen says their experience, coupled with the Bundesliga's reputation, convinced him to make the switch.

"I spoke a lot about the Bundesliga with Christian Pulisic and Gregg Berhalter," the 24-year-old told kicker magazine.

"It's clear the Bundesliga is a much higher level than Major League Soccer, it's a completely different soccer culture."

Manchester City-owned Steffen (r.) was current USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter's (l.) first-choice goalkeeper at the 2019 Gold Cup. - imago/ZUMA Press

Steffen has played in Germany before, however. The 15-time USA international joined Freiburg in summer 2015 on the back of a successful stint with US collegiate outfit Maryland, but struggled to settle.

Eighteen months later, he returned to his homeland to sign for Columbus Crew, having featured just 14 times for Die Breisgauer's reserve team.

Steffen was right to follow his gut. After making 84 appearances for Columbus and helping the USA reach the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, the 2018 US Male Player of the Year says he now has the confidence to embrace the challenges of living in Germany and playing in the Bundesliga at the second time of asking.

"It was my first time out on my own back then, it was like living on another planet. I wasn't experienced enough and I missed my family," Steffen admitted.

"The move back to Columbus was ideal for my development.

"Now's the right time to give Germany another go. I want to prove myself and become Fortuna's No.1"

Steffen was granted an extended break after his Gold Cup exploits, but linked up with his new teammates for pre-season training in Salzburg, Austria this week.

Fortuna coach Friedhelm Funkel has already said he will play the US stopper in friendlies against Istanbul Basaksehir and Rayo Vallecano, and Steffen cannot wait to get stuck in.

"I had seven or eight days free, so I went back to Columbus to pack my stuff and visit my family in Philadelphia.

"It was a short break, but that's all I needed.

"Now I'm ready and can't wait to get started here."