Professionals | 03/05/2018

Portrait of a Footballer

Marcel Risse: Cologne by blood

Marcel Risse is remaining loyal to 1. FC Köln. The 28-year-old has decided to take the path to the second division. fc.de looks back at the career of a young kid from Cologne that would go on to become a derby hero.

Marcel Risse was born in the Kalk region of Cologne in December of 1989. His first poster was of then-FC striker Toni Polster. He and his father would often cross the Rhine river to attend matches of 1. FC Köln. He has Kölsch (Cologne dialect) phrases tattooed on his arm. Marcel Risse is simply a Cologne kid. And Cologne kids become fans of 1. FC Köln. It is that simple. Simple, however, was not Risse’s path to the first team of 1. FC Köln.

Risse began his career under the tutelage of his father at TuS Höhenhaus. Part of the squad back then was current teammate Marco Höger, who also grew up in a nearby place. Risse’s talent would not go unnoticed at a young age, as the scouts of Bayer 04 Leverkusen were quick to pick up the young talent at just six years of age. Risse would move up the ranks at Leverkusen each year, until the culminating winning the German championship with the U19 team in 2007. Just one year later, Risse would be included to the Bundesliga squad for the first time in the 2007/08 season.


Marco Höger (left) and Marcel Risse (right) in the early days of their football career.

Risse is forced to wait until the season is almost over before making his debut. It is Matchday 32 when Risse is given the opportunity to play on a Bundesliga pitch against Hertha BSC. Overall, it is a successful year for the young Risse. He is part of the German U19 squad that would win the European championship in the Czech Republic and plays his part by scoring two goals. It all seems to be going well, but a road bump finally hits. The competition is fierce at Leverkusen. Risse is loaned out to 1. FC Nuremberg in the second division to gain match experience.

From Nuremberg Risse’s path would take him to Mainz, where he would feature in a young and exciting team managed by Thomas Tuchel with players like Andre Schürrle, Lewis Holtby, and Adam Szalai. The team would manage a fifth-placed finish and continue to impress, but Risse’s heart was longing for home. It was in summer 2013 that he would finally get his opportunity. 1. FC Köln were in the second division, but for Risse the decision to join his childhood dream club was too good to pass on. “We do not need to discuss that 1. FC Köln and the city of Cologne belong in the Bundesliga. I want to play my part in making sure that happens,” said Risse when first joining the club.


Marcel Risse joins his dream club 1. FC Köln in 2013.

Risse managed to achieve what he wanted to do in just his first season, scoring 9 goals and providing 4 assists as 1. FC Köln won the second division and made their way back to the Bundesliga. The 2014/15 season sees Risse score 5 goals and secure 4 assists in 29 matches, while the 2015/16 season ends with 3 goals and 7 assists after 33 matches. In another words, Risse is a strong part of the FC team that twice manages to maintain its place in the Bundesliga.

The 2016/17 season is a mixed bag for Risse. The FC midfielder scores an outrageous free kick in the DFB-Pokal as FC advance against TSG Hoffenheim. He is recognized with the goal of the month award. Just one month later, Risse tops his own goal. The first minute of stoppage time is running at the Borussia-Park as the famous derby looks to end in a 1-1 draw. FC receive a free kick opportunity and Risse puts his full force into it. The result: top corner. 1. FC Köln win the derby on a goal that would win the goal of the year award and a secure place in FC history as a derby hero is born.


Marcel Risse (left) and Anthony Modeste (right) celebrate the last-minute winner against Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Shortly after his goal of the year performance, Risse would suffer an ACL tear. This would mark the start of a long phase with persistent knee problems. Each time Risse appears to make a solid step in recovery, a setback. First, it is the meniscus. Then, he complains of a pain that just will not go away. Everyone fears the worst. Risse fears the worst. Will his career be over? Will his young daughter never get to see her father play on a Bundesliga pitch? The recovery is long, but step by step, Risse nears full fitness. “We made small steps until my knee accepted that it belonged to a Bundesliga player,” recalls Risse. With patience, Risse succeeds in achieving what most people had given up on. He makes his return to the Bundesliga pitch in the second half of the 2017/18 season.

Although Risse would start all matches except one since making his return, it is not enough to salvage a season that looked to never have a chance of salvation. Risse would score one of his trademark free kicks in the 2-2 draw against FC Schalke 04, but a point was not enough with a goal that Risse remembers as one of his “saddest goals” ever scored. On Matchday 32, the FC destiny is decided: relegation to the second division. While most players are expected to jump ship, the trio of Jonas Hector, Timo Horn, and Marco Höger all commit their futures to the club. Risse follows suit. “They extended my contract while I was still injured and doing rehabilitation. I am very thankful about that,” says Risse, whose contract runs until 2022. The path now goes back to the second division, but Risse has been there before. “I will not run just because we had one bad season,” says the kid from Cologne.

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