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Monchengladbach and Man City: An entwined history

SHARED HISTORY: Frontzeck played for both Gladbach and City

SHARED HISTORY: Frontzeck played for both Gladbach and City

Manchester City have been graced with the presence of several German players down the years, but only one of them has strong links to Borussia Monchengladbach. Simon Curtis takes a more detailed look.

 

A trend started during the Second World War years by the legendary goalkeeper Bert Trautmann was carried on into modern times by a sudden surge of arrivals from the East in the 1990s, a trend that is maintained to this day by Leroy Sané and llkay Gundogan's presence in Pep Guardiola's star-studded squad.

Uwe Rösler and Maurizio Gaudino shared the same mid-90s Manchester stage, as did - all too briefly - talented midfielder Steffen Karl, as well as ex-national team goalkeeper Eike Immel.

Under the stewardship of Alan Ball, City even occasionally fielded three Germans in the same line-up during this turbulent period. This was made possible after a recommendation to the then City boss by Immel, who knew of a compatriot and ex-team mate from his time at VfB Stuttgart, who might just fit the bill, after the sale of Terry Phelan and an unfortunate injury to Richard Edghill had reduced City's defensive left flank to a dangerously threadbare state.

Having made a dreadful start to 1995-96, Ball was desperate to lift his side from the bottom three before it became too late.

Michael Frontzeck arrived in Manchester from Borussia in time to make his debut in Ball's return to The Dell, Southampton, where he had starred as both a pugnacious midfielder and manager.

Frontzeck settled into a back four that included Nicky Summerbee, Kit Symons and Keith Curle and the new-look backline was punctured only once that afternoon, by a 25 yard shot from Neil Shipperley. The City equaliser, with just six minutes to go, was netted by relieved fellow-German Rösler.

Frontzeck had in fact originally made his name in the Bundesliga with Gladbach. Three years after City had been knocked out of the UEFA Cup quarter finals by a scintillating Borussia side containing the likes of European Footballer of the Year Allan Simonsen and German international Hans Günter Bruns, a young Frontzeck made his debut in front of the towering Bökelburg stands, the old ground used by Gladbach up to their switch to the state of the art Stadion in Borussia-Park in 2004.

As that 95-96 season imploded, Frontzeck not only experienced the pain of relegation with City, but also the infamous 5th round Old Trafford FA Cup tie in the same season. With City one-up through Uwe Rösler and coming under heavy pressure, referee Allan Wilkie inexplicably called for a penalty as an innocuous corner sailed into the box. Frontzeck was one of a number of players close to Eric Cantona as the ball flew in and the German wore an expression of numb disbelief as the man in black pointed to the spot. The penalty converted, City's morale sank and United grabbed an undeserved winner.

Frontzeck remained at the club for part of 1996-97, watching as Ball was dismissed after just three games and a succession of stand-ins tried to halt the rot. It was a desperate time to be at the club and he joins Michael Tarnat and Jerome Boateng in being German full backs whose arrivals in Manchester were timed to never quite allow them to make it with the Blues.

However, with nearly 250 games clocked up in the famous black, white and green of Borussia, the same certainly cannot be said of Michael Frontzeck's time at Gladbach.

"German" appearances for City: TRAUTMANN 545, RÖSLER 165, HAMANN 53, IMMEL 50, TARNAT 41, BOATENG 22, FRONTZECK & GAUDINO 21, KARL 4

Watch: Man City goals scored by Germans

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