Gerald Asamoah finished as a FIFA World Cup™ runner-up with Germany in 2002, when he appeared in the Final, and was a member of the Germany squad at the 2006 finals, where the host nation finished third. At club level, the man nicknamed Asa twice won the German Cup with Schalke in a career that has so far yielded 45 goals in 280 Bundesliga appearances, and six in 43 games for his country.
That rates as successful and impressive by anyone’s standards, but Asamoah is patently not finished yet. After more than a decade in the Ruhr valley with last term’s Bundesliga runners-up Schalke, the Ghana-born striker has opted for pastures new and joined cult Hamburg outfit St. Pauli. "It's wonderful and something new, although that was always going to be the case after so many years with Schalke. The rhythm of life is different here, but I’ve become accustomed to it very quickly and everything’s going really well," the 31-year-old exclusively told FIFA.com after his first few weeks with Pauli, where he has become an instant crowd favourite. "I’ve arrived from nowhere as a completely new face, but the crowd have taken me to heart straight away – and that’s just fantastic."
The striker has swapped the UEFA Champions League with Schalke for what most people expect to be a season-long relegation battle with the promoted club. "I had 11 good years at Schalke, but a change of scenery does you good after such a long time, and I wanted to try my hand at something new. I’m really enjoying my football again and I think we can get somewhere with this group of players." The fun component has steadily decreased for Asamoah in recent years, as his status shrank from established regular to bit-part player, partly due to poor luck with injury. He is now hoping for better luck in the north German metropolis.
However, misfortune initially appeared to have accompanied him to Hamburg. He was sidelined for eight weeks with a hamstring injury, but has subsequently returned with a bang. In his first two appearances for his new club as a substitute, he contributed an assist and a goal, a hugely promising start to his adventure with St. Pauli.
Six games into the campaign, the minnows have seven points and lie tenth, significantly ahead of most expert predictions. "Promoted clubs don’t entertain dreams of the title. We want to perform to the best of our ability and stay in the Bundesliga. And if we manage that before the last day, we’ll come back to the subject,” Asamoah said. However, he feels the club’s prospects are anything but bleak. "I’ve played international football for many years now, and who knows – maybe I’ll play in Europe with St. Pauli. It looks a long way off for the time being, and I’m 31 years old, but I have no thoughts at all about moving somewhere else just to play in the Champions League." The men in brown from the banks of the Elbe have yet to qualify for European competition.
There comes a moment where you have to say your time with the national team has come and gone. I’m 31 and my goal now is success with St. Pauli.
The world is extremely unlikely to see Gerald Asamoah in a Germany shirt again. "There comes a moment where you have to say your time with the national team has come and gone. I’m 31 and my goal now is success with St. Pauli. You take these things as they come, but right now, I wouldn’t want to say I’d suddenly resume my international career. A number of very good young players are doing exceptionally well for Germany at the moment."
He has no regrets or wistful feelings when international matches come around, although the player admits there was one particular match where he would have revelled in a role, the third group stage fixture at the 2010 FIFA World Cup between Germany and Ghana. "Of course, I’d have been thrilled to feature in the game between the country where I play and my country of birth. But that’s football, there are some things you don’t get to choose."
Whatever else may happen, Asamoah is guaranteed a place in the history books. "You’re never going to forget being the first non-white player to appear for Germany, and scoring in my first game too. That memory won’t go away in a hurry,” he confirmed. Asa, a devout Christian and father of three, has also begun thinking about life after professional football, as he revealed to FIFA.com. "I run a foundation for kids with heart problems. I have a heart defect myself, but I’ve still been able to achieve a few things in life. My hope is to pass something on to these kids and help improve their lives. Ideally, I’d like to open a heart unit in Ghana, so the kids receive medical treatment locally. I’ll do whatever it takes to realise that."