Academy product sets up the winner on his maiden appearance
On 28th January 2017, Raphael Framberger became the first Augsburg native to play for FCA in the Bundesliga. The academy product set up the winning goal on his debut in Wolfsburg. Time for a trip back in time to this special day.
Ahead of the first game of 2017, then FCA head coach Manuel Baum needed to improvise. Club captain and right-back Paul Verhaegh is ill and will miss the start of the second half of the season away at VfL Wolfsburg. Baum is therefore in need of a replacement.
Baum has only been in the role for a few weeks, having taken over from Dirk Schuster, and being promoted from his previous position as head of the club's academy. Baum knows all the young players at the club, and decides to give 20-year-old Raphael Framberger a chance after he had travelled to winter training camp with the first-team. Framberger is an Augsburg native, and has been at the club since he was eight years old. He has already been included in a couple matchday squads, but has yet to make his first-team or Bundesliga debut.
"I could tell already that week that I would play," Framberger said later. "During our final training session, the head coach told me that I would be in the squad if I didn't do anything dumb." The realisation that he was about to make his Bundesliga debut only hit him the night before the game. "I thought about it a lot and was excited," he remembers.
Once the game got underway, the right-back needed a few minutes to settle in. After just a few minutes, Framberger gave away a free-kick, which Wolfsburg's Mario Gomez took advantage of to open the scoring. However, FCA fought their way back into the game, with Halil Altintop pouncing on a misplaced back pass to net the equaliser after half an hour.
The match was into the closing minutes, before Framberger was able to redeem himself by helping to set up the winning goal. After a pass from Altintop, Framberger played in a cross to Dominik Kohr, who then scored to make it 2-1. "That was indescribable," Framberger remembers, as he became the first Augsburg native to feature for the club in the Bundesliga. "In the U23s and U19s, I rarely provided any assists. You couldn't have dreamed of a better moment." The game also marked the end of a tough spell for the defender, who tore his ACL the year before and had to work hard on his comeback for several months.
After the game, Framberger received plenty of praise for his performance. "If I hadn't believed that he could play like that, then I wouldn't have let him play," said Baum. "As such, I wasn't too surprised." Sporting director Stefan Reuter also called the academy product "someone who never gives up, who always sets the pace. He's an incredibly hard runner."
Today, Framberger is a fixed part of the first-team squad, having made 71 Bundesliga appearances. He could have had more, but he has struggled with injuries over the last years. However, he is still waiting on his first Bundesliga goal - after all, you can't do everything on your debut.