Simon Asta has played for FC Augsburg since he was just eleven. At 17 years and 107 days old, he became the youngest ever player to make their Bundesliga debut in the club’s history. The defender unfortunately suffered a cruciate ligament injury four months ago, but he’s been making great progress in his rehabilitation. The 19-year-old looks back at his Bundesliga journey.
When Simon Asta was first named as part of the squad for the winter training camp in Tenerife as a 16-year-old back in January 2018, he quickly became a source of irritation for his teammates. Not because of his ability as a footballer, which of course was good, but because of his incredible beard growth, which amazed the rest of the team. “That’s why people treated me like I was older. Some people were shocked when they heard I was only 16,” he looks back and smiles. However, this misunderstanding was soon cleared up and Asta was welcomed into the side. He made such a good first impression that he continued to train with the first team for the rest of the season.
Throughout the course of the Rückrunde, he even made into the matchday squad on three occasions, despite failing to make an appearance. However, he didn’t have to wait long to achieve this feat. Augsburg were looking to bring a successful season to a close, while their opponents Freiburg were deep in the midst of a relegation battle. Just before the game, a few of Asta’s teammates had told him that he was going to be playing, but he still didn’t believe them. As his dream came true with ten minutes to go and he walked out onto that pitch for the first time, the anticipation was enormous. “Of course I was nervous, and I had butterflies in my stomach. But, more than anything, I was happy to be there and ready to show what I could do,” Asta looks back.
A Bundesliga debut written into the history books
The game ended in a 2-0 defeat, but nonetheless Asta’s debut was one to remember. At 17 years and 107 days old, he became the youngest ever player in the history of the club to make their Bundesliga debut. “Of course it’s a nice thing,” he said modestly, however the local lad is looking for more, “I want to play in the Bundesliga for a long time. So it’s an incentive for me to continue working hard.”
This is something he’s been doing at FC Augsburg since all the way back in 2012, when he joined as an eleven-year-old from his local team TSV Göggingen. At the time, the club had already been playing in the Bundesliga for a year, but playing professional football wasn’t something Asta had even considered. “I just wanted to play at a high level and win games of course,” said the now 19-year-old. “I didn’t worry much about anything and just played football.”
A strong start to his new club
He adopted this attitude right from the off and instantly reaped the benefits. One of his favourite memories from his early career is from one of his first few games for the club. Asta was playing in an international tournament for the U12 side at the time, and the team needed a win against Schalke 04 in order to progress. For a long period of the game neither side could find any way through and the score was locked at 0-0, until Asta had an idea. “I just decided to have a go from distance. The ball went in and then we progressed with a 1-0 win,” Asta recalls, who has focused more on the defensive side of his game in recent years.
Asta played as a right back both on his debut against Freiburg and on his second Bundesliga appearance against VfL Wolfsburg a year later. The game also took place in similar circumstances, with the team having already avoided relegation. And once again Asta, who had taken part in a 3-0 win for Germany’s U18 side against Belgium during the week, had not expected to play. However, in the final training session he noticed that there could be a chance for him to play, and eventually found himself in the starting eleven in Wolfsburg. The game didn’t go as he would have wanted, finishing in an 8-1 defeat, however Asta looks back on the positive side of things, “There’s no use in seeing things negatively. You should appreciate every time you play.”
Making progress in his rehabilitation
Following this, the youngster continued to train with the first team and became an increasingly important part of the side, once again being named in the squad for the winter training camp in Malta. However, unfortunately in the first session he suffered a cruciate ligament tear and has been working on his comeback ever since. Nevertheless, he has not let this affect his positive mindset, “For me, that’s in the past. There’s no point worrying about it because I can’t change it. There’s no point looking back.”
Asta is now four months into his rehabilitation program, and it’s going well. “Everything’s going smoothly with my knee; I feel good. I recently had my first strength test for my knee, which was really positive.” Asta has even started running again last week, before taking part in further individual sessions. Then he will slowly be brought back into the team again. “I’m not far away,” said the defender optimistically.