Alexander Meier's professional career got off to an inauspicious start with Saturday's opponents Hamburger SV
Alexander Meier's professional career got off to an inauspicious start with Saturday's opponents Hamburger SV

Eagle-eyed Meier has former haunt in his sights

Munich - When left Hamburger SV in 2004 he had spent three years on the club's books as a professional, two of them on loan at city neighbours FC St. Pauli. At the time you might have been forgiven for thinking that could be as good as it was going to get for the then 22-year-old. Fast-forward eight years, however and, just like a fine wine, Meier has matured into one of the Bundesliga's finest assets.

Eintracht's old hand

It may not quite have worked out for him at Hamburg, but it's testament to Meier's character and professionalism that, come the weekend, he will be returning to where it all began as the focal point of an Eintracht Frankfurt side sitting fourth in the table and as the Bundesliga's second deadliest marksman this term.

The Buchholz native has now spent eight seasons at the Commerzbank-Arena, sometimes deployed as a central midfielder, at other times as a classic centre forward, but more recently as a roaming attacking midfielder. And it's this supporting role in which the former Red Short has excelled.

Indeed, despite a handful of new faces following Eintracht's return to the top flight during the summer of 2012, coach Armin Veh has kept faith with and, by and large, moulded his side around the unorthodox, experienced and hard-working Meier - and the results have been staggering for both player and team.

In good company

19 games into the campaign, Meier trails Bayer 04 Leverkusen's Stefan Kießling (13) by just the one goal in the Bundesliga scorers' chart, and is up there with Borussia Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski and Bayern Munich's Mario Mandzukic on twelve - all the more impressive given his role off the shoulder of the striker.

His reading of the game is superb, he's physical and, although not the quickest, a nightmare to mark for opposition to defenders: great news for Bastian Oczipka and Sebastian Rode supplying the crosses from the flanks, with two of Meier's 12 Bundesliga goals this term coming from headers.

Back where it all began

So while there's no questioning his ability and scoring record, a place in Joachim Löw’s national team set-up is most likely beyond him. A spot in Eagles folklore, on the other hand, is not. Meier (70) has already surpassed Ghanaian legend Tony Yeboah (68) in the all-time scorers' chart and can already look towards Jürgen Grabowski’s 109-goal haul with eager anticipation.

Now 39 goals might seem like a long way to go, but for a man posting such impressive figures and still some way off the twilight of his career, there's every reason to believe Meier will add handsomely to his total. And what better place to start than on his former stomping ground in Hamburg.

Christopher Mayer-Lodge