From United’s youth set-up to the German national team – the rise of Ron-Robert Zieler

“Ron-Robert is a young goalkeeper, who has played in the Bundesliga since the beginning of 2011. Since his first start he has had very good performances and there has been a seamless continuation of this form in the current season”
(Andreas Kopke- Germany goalkeeping coach)

It’s fair to say that Ron-Robert Zieler has already had a career that most footballers would be lucky to achieve/experience in the entirety of their own.

The Cologne native first came to prominence in July of 2005 when just aged 16, Zieler uprooted from the German city to move to one of the biggest football clubs in the world, Manchester United. It was clear to see the talent Zieler had; he was already a German Under 16 international by the time he had signed for United.

Zieler soon established himself as the first choice keeper in the youth side, making a total of 22 appearences in his first season, including 4 high profile appearences in the prestigous FA Youth Cup competition. Zieler continued to impress the following year, sharing goalkeeping responsibilties with current United first team member Ben Amos, and even managed to make his reserve team debut just shortly after his 18th birthday.

Zieler’s serene progress continued in the next few years, emerging as a full member of the reserve side, helping to win the Manchester and Lancashire Senior Cup’s respectively. To top it off, Zieler then helped the German Under 19 side win the 2008 European Championships in convincing fashion, with the likes of Sven Bender (Dortmund) and Timo Gebhart (Stuttgart).

Those few years would prove to be the highlight of Zieler’s time at Old Trafford. What followed would be considered a rather unspectacular loan spell at Northampton Town, and a season of injury and poor performances. Zieler knew his time at Old Trafford was coming to an end following a meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson.

“I walked into Sir Alex Ferguson´s office and talked to him about my future. We had a very good talk. He told me, that he was quite happy with my progress, but that other keepers were still ahead of me”

In April 2010, Zieler went on trial to Hannover 96. He did enough to earn a 2 year contract, although had to wait until the following January to finally make his debut against Eintracht Frankfurt. He managed to keep a clean sheet and hasn’t looked back since; showing the goalkeeping qualities that brought Zieler to the attention of United scouts as a 16 year old. At just a shade over 6ft, Zieler has excellent shot stopping qualities, is very quick, and has a surprisingly calm head on still very young shoulders, something he must have learnt from the great Edwin van der Sar during his time at Old Trafford.

His performances soon started to attract the interest of numerous clubs including Schalke; who were on the look out for a new keeper to replace Germany’s current first choice Manuel Neuer, following his move to Bayern Munich. The performances had even started to impress the national team manager, Joachim Low:

“The Hannover goalkeeper [Ron-Robert Zieler] is great, he’s really good and has a lot of class”

Low finally called Zieler up to the national squad for Germany’s last two Euro 2012 qualifiers against Turkey and Belgium at the beginning of October, but failed to get any game time.

It is a remarkable turnaround for the young German, who only a few years ago was being forced to undergo trials in order to guarentee club football.

Now with a new contract extension until 2015 signed and sealed, a recent man of the match performance against Neuer’s Munich anything is possible for the talented German. He is already showing that he is one of Germany’s best keepers, maybe he will go on and become one of the world’s best keepers as well…

Read more of Daniel White’s articles at ‘Always Look At The Sporting Side Of Life

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