Emmanuel Pogatetz (c.) is representing 1. FC Nürnberg, after a nomadic footballing existence
Emmanuel Pogatetz (c.) is representing 1. FC Nürnberg, after a nomadic footballing existence

The road less travelled

He may not have followed the most orthodox of career paths as a professional footballer, but Emanuel Pogatetz has learnt his trade in numerous different countries en route to becoming the rounded individual he is now.

Nickname: Mad Dog

A dream for many Austrian players is a move to the German Bundesliga, and that dream came true for Pogatetz at the age of 18 when he joined Bayer 04 Leverkusen from FC Kärnten. However, just a year later, he found himself in Switzerland on loan at FC Aarau. Another loan spell followed, this time back in his native Graz with Grazer AK, before a third short-term deal took him to the Russian capital and Spartak Moscow.

The nomad's big break arrived when Middlesbrough signed him from Leverkusen in 2005, fitting him out with a five-year contract which, to a man used to living out of a suitcase for the previous three seasons, was a welcome show of faith. He repaid it by becoming the first Austrian player ever to score in England's Premier League.

He became Middlesbrough's captain and a firm fan favourite on Teeside before returning to take a second shot at the Bundesliga in 2010. He made an equally big impression on the Hannover 96 fans, and caught the eye of then-Wolfsburg manager Felix Magath, who signed him for the 2012/13 season on a three-year contract.

London loan, Nuremberg home

Wolfsburg's turmoil meant that after only eight appearances Pogatetz went back to the Premier League again. His loan to West Ham United brought him playing time which wouldn't otherwise have been guaranteed in Germany. That hunt for playing time took him closer to his native Austria in Summer 2013 when he signed for Bavarian outfit 1. FC Nürnberg - for whom he played every minute of their first eight games of the new season.

He may have lost the national team captaincy to fellow left-back Christian Fuchs, but regular appearances for Austria show that, despite perennial wandering, the Alpine country will always be his home.