The club with the smallest budget in the division have beaten and held some of the nation’s biggest clubs, and even spent time at the top of the table. And in midfielder Moritz Stoppelkamp, they have a player whose name will be forever remembered in the Bundesliga’s history books and etched in the hearts of fans all over the country and further afield.
‘I didn’t know I could kick it that far!’
The above statement spilled from the mouth of a euphoric, almost disbelieving Stoppelkamp minutes after Paderborn’s 2-0 win over Hannover 96 at the Benteler Arena back on Matchday 4. “The keeper was out of his goal and the only choice I had was to shoot. I just aimed for goal, hit it perfectly and it rolled over the line.”
His post-match interview only partially described what had just transpired. In the dying seconds of the game and with his side leading 1-0, Stoppelkamp collected a clearance on his knee and sent a half volley into the vacant Hannover goal from the edge of his own box, a distance of 82.3 metres. No other goal in the top flight’s 51-year existence has been scored from further out.
Proved any doubters wrong
Stoppelkamp had already announced himself at Paderborn before that historic goal by scoring in the club’s maiden Bundesliga victory, a 3-0 success at German giants Hamburger SV. This, however, was the moment in which his talent was laid bare for all to see, as well as being perhaps the best evidence that Paderborn, a supposedly nondescript lower-league side punching well above their weight, were indeed an enrichment to Germany’s top flight.
The 28-year-old is fully deserving of his top-flight renaissance. By no means an up-and-coming talent - his moment of genius came a few weeks before his 28th birthday - his career threatened to stagnate at, of all clubs, Hannover between 2010 and 2012. A back-up player in a competitive Reds squad, he stepped down a league to join TSV 1860 Munich, winning back some of his pride with two solid seasons in Bavaria before making the switch to Paderborn, where he now looks every inch a player of Bundesliga calibre.
Feet firmly on the ground
Unsurprisingly he has become an internet sensation after his goal went viral on the worldwide web, and he is also a celebrity in Paderborn after a footpath, 82.3 metres in length and named ‘Moritz-Stoppelkamp-Allee’, was laid as a tribute to his record-breaking goal outside the club’s ground earlier this season.
Yet perhaps the most impressive thing about Stoppelkamp is his modesty. His interview after the Hannover match was the reaction of a footballer who, like his club, is still discovering his limits and capabilities, and as emotional as his celebration was, Stoppelkamp insisted there was no point to prove against his former employers. “It was obvious I had to leave Hannover, but I learned a lot there and I developed as a player."
His total of three goals and an assist have undoubtedly played their part in Paderborn being in a respectable tenth place in the table and while that goal may not turn out to be their most valuable this season, it will certainly be the most memorable. ‘Moritz Stoppelkamp’ - remember the name.