A year in the life of Eintracht Frankfurt's versatile young talent Marius Wolf reminds you that anything is possible in football as the 22-year-old starlet has journeyed from Bundesliga nobody, to one of the first names on the Eagles’ team sheet.
It’s December 2016 in Hannover, and a young, hungry, versatile player trying to earn his chance at his dream of playing in the Bundesliga is playing in the fourth tier of German football with Hannover’s reserve team. The winger was frustrated, disgruntled that his chance hadn’t come. So much so, that he spoke to his parents and agent about his options.
"When I was sent to the amateurs [at Hannover] it wasn't easy at all," Wolf explained to German sports publication kicker. "I was thinking, 'How come I'm not getting my chance? Why can't I show what I can do?'" He resolved to roll up his sleeves and press on, ever hopeful that his opportunity to shine would one day arrive.
Luckily for Wolf, Eagle-eyed Eintracht sporting director Fredi Bobic was on the hunt for a player with potential that could bolster his and Niko Kovac’s squad for the remainder of the season. He saw the potential, raw determination, speed and strength of the disgruntled dynamo, as well as his wicked crossing ability and eye for goal.
"I knew coming here represented one final opportunity," Wolf recalls. “He is always on the move, up and down, you can’t kill him,” Bobic said during Frankfurt’s winter training camp.
Watch: Wolf torments Cologne with a goal and assist!
Fast-forward to April 2018 and Wolf has scored four goals and gathered eight assists for Champions League-chasing Frankfurt, with a trip to Berlin for the DFB Cup final booked for May. And the hopes of a place in Joachim Löw’s World Cup squad in the summer a big possibility, especially according to his teammate Kevin-Prince Boateng.
“If he doesn’t become an international player, then I’ll quit.”
One of the figureheads of Frankfurt’s success has become a close friend of Wolf’s since the 22-year-old arrived in Frankfurt. The pair show their close relationship on the pitch, as does the entire team under Kovac who have become a representation of how hard work can take you above and beyond all expectations: with Wolf just one of many standout examples.
“Kevin has helped me a lot, showed me a lot and has given me lots of advice,” Wolf said, while the Prince made his feelings clear to Marius from the moment they met. “I just told him that he has to go full throttle, and he does that. There’s no stopping him,” Boateng said.
And it was with Boateng that Wolf may have realised just how far he has come, when he travelled to Milan to visit his friend. When the pair went for lunch in the city, an idol of Wolf’s just happened to be in the same restaurant. Brazilian star Neymar, who they of course spoke to with Boateng’s help.
"My aim is to play against [Neymar] or even with him one day," Wolf told kicker.
For now, Wolf and Frankfurt want to end their incredible season in style with Champions League qualification and DFB Cup winner’s medals. It’s a remarkable change from two years previously, and Wolf will never let himself forget where he came from.
“I know what it’s like when things aren’t going well, like in Hannover,” Wolf explained. “I’m just trying to keep pushing, and to not let it affect or unsettle me.”
May 19 is the big day in Berlin against Bayern Munich, but Wolf’s annual big day comes just six days later, when he’ll turn 23. For a player and person who hasn’t had it all his own way, a cup win for a birthday present would just about cap-off the dream season.