Nils Petersen's form at Freiburg has earned him a place in Germany's provisional FIFA World Cup squad. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA / Simon Hofmann/Getty Images
Nils Petersen's form at Freiburg has earned him a place in Germany's provisional FIFA World Cup squad. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA / Simon Hofmann/Getty Images
Bundesliga

Freiburg striker Nils Petersen fires his way into Germany's provisional FIFA World Cup squad

Everyone has been embarrassed by their dad, haven't they? Freiburg striker Nils Petersen came very close to peak shame when his father, Andreas, spotted Joachim Löw on a beach in January and a crazy thought popped into his head.

"That's when I wanted to introduce myself and ask him what he thinks about Nils and what his chances are," said Petersen Sr., a football coach himself, whose mind was on next summer's World Cup. Finally, he thought better of it for his son's sake. "He probably would have beheaded me otherwise."

A funny story, right? I mean, who would imagine Nils Petersen playing up front for Germany at next summer's World Cup? But what if? Yes, seriously.

Watch: Petersen scores a goal of the season contender against Dortmund!

If you have never considered the idea of the Freiburg forward popping up like Mario Götze did in Rio de Janeiro four years ago to net the goal that sees Die Nationalmannschaft retain their world crown in Russia next summer, you're not alone.

"If someone asks, then of course you don't say 'No', but I'm not counting on it," Petersen explained in a recent interview. "I have already booked my summer holiday."

Though he does not take himself too seriously, the Petersen family may have to wait to slap on the sunscreen after he was named in Joachim Löw's preliminary 26-man squad.

This season, only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski scored more Bundesliga goals than Petersen, who helped himself to 15 in 32 top-flight appearances in 2017/18.

That tally put him one goal ahead of the next-best German forwards, Mark Uth, Niclas Füllkrug, and Kevin Volland - and two clear of Timo Werner, the RB Leipzig striker who is all but certain to be going to Russia, most likely as Löw's first-choice forward.

Impressed yet? Well, put Petersen's goals into context, and his tally is all the tastier: Freiburg found the net only 32 times all season. Even though the team did not create hatfuls of chances, Petersen still scored a bundle of goals.

- © gettyimages / Ronny Hartmann

Anything but a club of hipster cool, Freiburg's image as a side as welcoming as a generous slice of Black Forest gateau does not help Petersen's cause as they rarely generate headlines. But the reputation Petersen has built — or has had built for him — is the other hurdle he has to overcome.

Petersen has often carried the tag of "super sub", a damaging, damning billing that received more focus when — with Freiburg's goal in their 4-1 defeat in Munich on Matchday 34 last season — he equalled Alexander Zickler's record of 18 'Joker' goals from the bench. He claimed it for himself on Matchday 5 in the 1-1 draw with Hannover.

But more than being classed as just 'an impact player,' at 29, he has been pigeon-holed as a nearly man, who had his big opportunity, and fluffed it at the top level. That came at Bayern in 2011 when — after netting 25 goals in 33 Bundesliga 2 games for Energie Cottbus to finish as the second tier's top scorer — he joined the Bavarians on a three-year deal.

- © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA

"I learned a lot from my year in Munich," Petersen countered. "You get nothing given to you at Bayern — and I don't say that to protect myself. Up to now, I have achieved a lot of which I am very proud, and I feel that Bayern Munich contributed a lot that year."

But it is the East German-born striker's contribution to Freiburg that could — and probably should — at least change people's opinions of him as a footballer, and may even go as far as to convince Löw to consider him for the senior Germany squad.

A hat-trick — after coming off the bench, of course! — on his debut against Eintracht Frankfurt in January 2015 was the prelude to nine goals in 12 Rückrunde matches that, while it was not enough to keep Freiburg up, suggested Petersen had finally found his niche.

- © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA / Simon Hofmann/Getty Images
- © gettyimages / Lars Baron