It has been onwards and very much upwards for Rene Adler since he moved to Hamburger SV from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2012
It has been onwards and very much upwards for Rene Adler since he moved to Hamburger SV from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2012

Comeback of the season so far: Rene Adler

Munich - Germany has a long tradition of producing world-class goalkeepers. Sepp Maier, Andreas Köpke, Oliver Kahn and Jens Lehmann are just four of those to have set the sticks alight over the decades - while the Bundesliga's current crop of homegrown number 1's is among the most bountiful ever.

Rollercoaster ride

Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer starred at the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa and has since gone on to establish himself as one of the world's finest, while Hannover's Ron-Robert Zieler and Marc-Andre ter Stegen of Borusia Mönchengladbach are just two of the younger guns currently making waves at club level. It is a relatively old hand, though - Hamburger SV's - who, rising like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes, is now staking a serious claim to the place in the national team set-up once seemingly reserved for Neuer.

It hasn't been easy, though. Against the backdrop of Jens Lehmann’s retirement and Robert Enke’s tragic suicide, Germany's no.1 jersey was very much up for grabs. Along with Neuer and Tim Wiese, Adler was one of three standout performers hoping to jump on the plane to South Africa, with some trademark reaction saves and all-round commanding displays at Bayer 04 Leverkusen eventually swinging it his way. He was the chosen one - literally.

However, Adler was not destined make that flight. A serious rib injury picked up at the tail end of the 2009/10 Bundesliga campaign sealed his fate and marked the beginning of a two-year absence from the national scene. Neuer was on his way to goalkeeping royalty and the conveyor belt of national talent showed no signs of abating. Adler was a forgotten man.

Leap of faith

From his own point of view, the pressure was off, but more importantly, injuries were behind him, prompting Hamburg to make their move. A side that marginally staved off relegation months earlier after conceding 57 goals in 34 Bundesliga outings, the Red Shorts picked up Germany's former no.1 on a free transfer in the summer of 2012.

The new campaign heralded a fresh start just as much for Hamburg as it did for Adler. Three consecutive defeats raised many an eyebrow, but through it all, a certain Adler was showing glimpses of his former self. On Matchday 4, Hamburg's new no.1 really came into his own, playing a substantial part in keeping champions Borussia Dortmund at bay as Thorsten Fink's men picked up their maiden win of the season.

No.1 battle

It was the moment that turned Hamburg's season around and propelled their 27-year-old summer acquisition back towards the top of the goalkeeping pile. A national squad recall duly followed and while Adler did not feature on his return to Jogi Löw's set-up, he is nonetheless firmly back in the mix of the country's top keepers.

Christopher Mayer-Lodge

Player of the season so far: Thomas Müller

Newcomer of the season so far: Eintracht Frankfurt

Return of the season so far: Rafael van der Vaart