The first season in professional football for FC Magdeburg has so far been nothing but a fairy tale. The team surprised everyone with their form and are closer to promotion than relegation. Off the pitch, the club have also made progress.
The Return of Iron Maik
The post-playing careers of footballers are often clear cut affairs. Most go into management, others become coaches and others disappear entirely. Magdeburg have recently announced that Maik Franz, a defensive player with the club between 1998 and 2001 will work as an intern with the management of the club. As a student of sports management he has to do several internships and it was a logical decision for him to do so on Magdeburg as the club has formed him during his youth and gave him the opportunity to mature into a complete defensive player. Therefore, he returns to Magdeburg in order to return the favour the club has given him. He was part of the squad that beat FC Cologne, Bayern Munich and Karlsruhe in an exciting DFB-Cup run in 2000/01. At the end of the season Magdeburg have won promotion, thanks to the defensive quality provided by Maik Franz in central defence.
After transferring to Wolfsburg in the summer of 2001, Franz became the best defender for his new club, winning 63% of his challenges in 91 games, making him the most effective defender for Wolfsburg. His later career was somewhat unfortunate as all clubs he has played for were relegated. From 2006 until 2009 he played for Karlsruhe where he was also captain. After winning promotion in 2008 to the Bundesliga, the club went straight down a year later and Maik Franz moved on to Eintracht Frankfurt. It was here where he gained his nickname ‘Iron Maik’ as he was accused of playing too physical in the eyes of his opponents. The allegations were underline by the fact that he was booked 11 times during the 2009/10 season; for each yellow card he donated €500 for charitable purposes. The following season he was booked 13 times in 23 games. If he donated money to charity again is not known. However, after Eintracht went down, club and player could not agree on a new deal for the second division and subsequently he moved on. This time Berlin was his destination. Again, luck was not his companion. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament and at the end of the season, Hertha BSC went down. Maik Franz thus was relegated for the third time in his career. He stayed in Berlin until early in 2015 he decided to end his playing career due to continuous knee troubles. He decided to study and his first internship leads him back to the club where he gained vital experience as a player. He will assist in establishing a scouting network and surely his experience and contacts might prove very useful for Magdeburg.
Another file in the HR department is changing. Mario Kallnik is on the way to become Mr. FC Magdeburg in the 21st century. As a player from 2002 until 2008, Kallnik led the Club through one of the darkest chapters in the history. He was also part of the team that came close to promotion to the second division in 2007. After his playing days he stayed with the club and became part of the management team. It was in this role that he oversaw a period of transition that finally climaxed in the promotion to the 3rd division where the club is now officially playing professional football. He was responsible for the the signing of Andreas Petersen who changed the team and laid the foundations for the current success. Kallnik was also the man behind the signing of Jens Härtel the current coach. All this he has done while working in part-time role for the club, still working full-time for an assurance company. Since January 1 of this year Kallnik is now employed by FC Magdeburg. This is a sign of the further professionalization the club has undertaken in the last 3 years in order to establish themselves in the professional divisions of German football.
Both, Kallnik and Franz will help the club move forward in the right direction.