Marco Pießner and Niclas Füllkrug were once teammates in SV Werder Bremen’s U19s team. Nine years on, the two meet again in the DFB-Pokal first round but on this occasion for opposing teams. Prießner now plays for fifth tier side SV Atlas Delmenhorst while Füllkrug is playing just 20km away back in Bremen having rejoined the Green-Whites this summer from Hannover 96. Ahead of the first round clash, Prießner spoke to DFB.de about the match in the Weserstadion.
DFB.de: In the DFB-Pokal first round, Lower Saxony Oberliga side SV Atlas Delmenhorst face local Bundesliga side SV Werder Bremen. The club hierarchy have described the cup draw as an absolute dream, is this also the case for you Mr Prießner?
Marco Prießner: Yes definitely. I would’ve had FC Bayern München or Borussia Dortmund in my mind as a dream opponent initially but I never thought I would be facing my former club Werder Bremen. The excitement was huge during the draw and some of the players watched the draw with the fans. Everyone had their arms around each and it was amazing to see. It was also a very emotional moment.
DFB.de: The first round match will take place in the Weserstadion, the Bundesliga club’s home stadium. What are your thoughts on this decision?
Prießner: I was informed directly after the first round draw that we would be playing in the Weserstadion and I said to my teammates: “We will be playing in a sold-out Weserstadion!” (Laughs) This will be something really special for us to play in front of around 40,000 fans at a Bundesliga club. A few of us will definitely be feeling nervous when we take to the pitch. Of course it would’ve been nicer for our fans to play in our home stadium but as I previously said, it makes a lot of sense regarding crowd interest to play the match in the Weserstadion. Anything else wouldn’t have made as much sense.
DFB.de: The match is a trip back in time for you as you spent two years in the Werder Bremen academy. How many text messages did you have to answer following the cup draw?
Prießner: There were several. Lots of my friends have messaged me saying they’d love me to score against my former club while others said the match is an opportunity to show Werder what they have been missing. After spending time in the academy, I wasn’t promoted to either the first team nor the U23s, instead leaving the club to join VfB Oldenburg.
DFB.de: One of your teammates in the U19s was Niclas Füllkrug, who became a professional in the Bundesliga and after spells in Nuremberg and Hannover, is now back at Werder Bremen. Have you been in touch with him over the past few years?
Prießner: No. The football world moves extremely rapidly and you quickly lose sight of things. We’ve now gone on completely different paths. I don’t know if he would still recognise me (laughs).
DFB.de: What was the missing link which stopped you from making the jump up to the first team at Werder Bremen?
Prießner: That’s difficult to say. It could possibly be down to the fact that I joined Bremen very late as a young player and the club had focused more energy on developing the talents who had already been at the club a long time. Niclas, for example, had been in the Werder youth academy for many years, which was potentially an advantage. I was very disappointed that I didn’t get the opportunity to prove myself in the U23s.
DFB.de: Who was the better forward in the youth teams – Niclas Füllkrug or yourself?
Prießner: I’ll answer that one diplomatically: we both had our different strengths (laughs). I think that Niclas was very strong in the air in particular and I always used my pace.
DFB.de: Are you faster than him?
Prießner: Yes, I definitely was. Whether that’s still the case today, I don’t know. We’ll find out in the DFB-Pokal match (laughs).
DFB.de: Are you a bit jealous of his career?
Prießner: I wouldn’t say so. Of course I’d also like to be a professional, but I know that you also need a huge amount of luck to get to that level. Sometimes it’s enough to score the right goal at the right time in the right match and a scout puts you on their radar. From our U19s team, I think Niclas is the only one to have a successful professional career. That’s a good illustration of just how few players make it.
DFB.de: In the DFB-Pokal match, you’ll get potentially the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play on the big stage. Will it be the match of your life?
Prießner: Definitely, but not only for me, it’s also the biggest game in the entire club’s history. They keep saying – perhaps we’ll never get to experience something like this ever again. Qualifying for the DFB-Pokal again would be a huge achievement.
DFB.de: How many tickets have you given away?
Prießner: A lot! We were allowed to order tickets through our captain Nick Köster. I thought I was in the lead with my 38 ticket orders, but I was wrong. One of my teammates has ordered 180 tickets (laughs). Probably 1,000 tickets alone have gone to the family and friends of us players.