Braunschweig - In his eleventh season in German football, has taken a rather meandering route to the top level of the game.
In his second spell with Eintracht Braunschweig, he is about to discover exactly what it feels like to step out in the colours of one of the Bundesliga’s founding clubs, and a former champion (1967), in the German top flight.
Born in Kinshasa, DR Congo, on 20 April 1984, he made amateur outfits FC Rodalben and FK Pirmasens his first stations in the Palatinate. The powerful frontman was soon picked up by local powerhouse 1. FC Kaiserslautern in 2002, but unable to make the leap into the first team, Kumbela instead took the sideways step to third-tier outfit Rot-Weiß Erfurt in 2005.
The goals swiftly followed at the Thuringian outfit (17 in 56 in league football), but after two years he was on the move again. After one season at SC Paderborn, he sent six months at Braunschweig, followed by another short spell at Rot-Weiß Ahlen. In January 2010, however, two years after he left the Lions, he returned on a free transfer. And what a bargain he has been.
Braunschweig began the 2010/11 campaign in the third tier, but with Kumbela’s 19 goals and nine assists, it wasn’t long before they were back in Bundesliga 2. And after last season’s stable finish of eighth, the club secured promotion to the Bundesliga in 2012/13, almost half a century after they were crowned champions of Germany, with Kumbela once again finishing as the side's leading marksman on 19 goals.
Much like his club, Kumbela has taken a gradual path to the summit of German football, but having just turned 29, he is about to reach his peak. The boy from Kinshasa is a perfect fit for this particular Traditionsverein, and will be hoping his first taste of the big time will be more than a fleeting visit.