Geiger: ''I thought about quitting''

TSG's Dennis Geiger has experienced a few setbacks in his still young career. The 23-year-old suffered a season-ending injury on Matchday 13 of the 2020/21 campaign, meaning he missed what promised to be the personal highlight of his year: participation in the U21 EURO with Germany. This season, the midfielder has made his return to the first-team set-up, but he is currently unsure when he'll be able to return to old strengths: ''It's hard to say at the moment what's 100 percent with me. I've been out for too long,'' says Geiger in an interview for the latest issue of the club magazine SPIELFELD, which comes out on Monday (11 October).

Another spell on the sidelines at the start of the year triggered increased self-doubt in the Germany U21 international. He even questioned the future of his career: "A lot of people think it's easier to deal with when you know exactly what's happened, but for me it was even worse than the previous injuries. It was the same area on the thigh again and I knew right away how bad it was. I knew from the beginning what it meant. There were obviously a lot of things I was going over in my head afterwards. Why me? Why now? Why me for the third time? The first three to four weeks were extremely bad. I was just at home, doing a lot of reflection and asking myself whether there was any point in continuing to play football."

Geiger, born in Mosbach am Neckar, has been playing for TSG since 2009 and has played in all of Hoffenheim's youth teams. He is a prime example of the club's youth work, which has produced numerous Bundesliga professionals in recent years, such as Christoph Baumgartner, Stefan Posch, Nadiem Amiri and Niklas Süle. The long-time TSG player sometimes finds it difficult to follow the performances of his (former) teammates: "In the first four weeks, I couldn't watch any football at all. Not in the stadium and not on the TV. Neither Hoffenheim nor any other game. It just wasn't possible. It triggered something negative in me and I didn't want to associate that feeling with football. And that's why I just let it go. But after a month, I managed it again. That's when the first big frustration was over."

His family and girlfriend in particular helped him to "pull through the rehab, even in bad moments" and to fully focus on his comeback. This time round, he consciously opted for a different process: "I left the region for five weeks to go to Munich, so that I could clear my head. It was agreed with TSG that I shouldn't be on site in Zuzenhausen every day and see the boys at training, but rather simply focus on getting my mind off things." Back at TSG, Geiger felt the support of the club and the region: "Having been here for so long, I know an incredible number of people at the club, whether in the academy or in the Bundesliga team. I know exactly what I have TSG to thank for. You automatically build up an emotional relationship with the club. I appreciate everything about this and I want to give as much back as possible. On top of that, I grew up in the region and my entire family lives here."

Also covered in the October issue of SPIELFELD is TSG's collaboration with the Brazilian club Barra FC, which was initiated by majority shareholder Dietmar Hopp. At Barra FC, young footballers will be trained and given all-round support according to the tried-and-tested model developed at the TSG academy. The club will benefit from the support and know-how of former TSG employees: Dirk Mack, director of youth development at TSG Hoffenheim from 2015 to 2020, will oversee the project as sporting director. The former member of the German national team coaching staff embodies the footballing ambition of the Barra FC academy, of which Dietmar Hopp says: "The goal is to open up prospects for the young players. In future, they should be able to establish themselves in the top leagues across the globe.''

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