FEATURE | Hamburg’s young stars are pushing for a Bundesliga return

Six-time Bundesliga champions Hamburger SV have not a won a major title since their DFB Pokal win in 1987 and since relegation to the second tier in 2018, HSV have gone through some uncertain times trying to regain their place amongst Germany’s leading clubs. Six coaches have come and gone in the last five years including club legend Horst Hrubesch and current Germany U20 coach Hannes Wolf. 

However, things are starting to really come together under 47-year-old coach Tim Walter, who joined from VfB Stuttgart. Currently second with 34 points from 17 games and most importantly the second-best defensive record in the league, having only conceded 19 goals. 

With an average age of 23, the Volksparkstadion-based club are drawing the fans back in numbers. This season the average attendance is the highest in the league at over 50,000 per game, a record last seen in the Bundesliga season in 2018.  

Read our exclusive interview with Hamburg specialist talent coach Massimo Mariotti

Included in the current squad four players have already gained senior international caps, these include Finland international midfielder Anssi Suhonen. The 21-year-old joined the club’s U17 team in June 2017 from Finnish club Kapylan. Suhonen made his national team debut against North Macedonia in November and is a versatile player who can play on the left-wing, in central midfield and as an attacking-midfielder. 

Jonah Fabisch (21), who has made his first senior international match for Zimbabwe, is an important part of the U21s’ central-midfield. The ambidextrous player, who has been with the club since 2012, gained his debut with the first team against Eintracht Braunschweig. 

Ghana international Ransford Yeboah-Königsdörffer joined in the summer from Dynamo Dresden where he won the 3. Liga title in 2021. The Berlin-born right-footed attacker, who can also play on the left-wing, has played 15 games this season and scored 5 goals and at 21, is already valued at £2.5m by Transfermarkt.   

László Bénes, who has already gained experience with Augsburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga, is a formidable talent who has played 7 games for Slovakia. A midfielder, he signed a four-year contract with Hamburg and has made 17 appearances, scoring two goals since joining in the summer. 

There is an array of in particular young talent in the side, many of which are Hamburg talents who are fast making an impression many of which have already seen international action. A young HSV winger who has played in the English game is former Three Lions U20 forward Xavier Amaechi, who joined Hamburg in 2019. The Nigerian-British player is a product of the Arsenal academy, who spent time on loan at Bolton Wanderers and is predicted a bright future ahead by analysts. He has been capped at all levels for England from U15-U20 so far and had attracted the interest from Bayern Munich.  

Hot on the heels of veteran first team keeper Daniel Heuer-Fernandes is 21-year-old prospect Leo Oppermann. The HSV U21 keeper is highly regarded for his outstanding reactions and command of the box. The ex-Union Berlin player has not yet made his debut in the first team however he has been called up to be a substitute for the first team seven times this season already. 

Another Hamburger with a bright future at the Volksparkstadion is the agile winger Robin Velasco. The 20-year-old has scored five goals and has four assists for the U21 team so far. He has been training with the second-tier team during the winter break. Velasco is a left-footed player who is looks solid in attack and can also be rotated to the right wing.

Central-defender Valon Zumberi is a highly regarded Kosovo U21 international who has great ability in the aerial game and in one on ones. A robust 20-year-old, Zumberi is also very good in build-up play and is very much a product of the HSV academy having joined the club already in 2010.

Elijah Krahn is one of the players to keep an eye on in the HSV squad, the 19-year-old is the captain of the Germany U19 team who is valued for his command of the defensive midfield and excellent ball control and distribution. Krahn is one to watch.

Tom Sanne who is 18 was lured away from St. Pauli in the summer and has already scored six goals in nine appearances for HSV’s U19s this season. The forward is as an offensive player many experts agree has huge potential and is a player who could be seen in the first team very soon. 

Although the Hamburger SV academy, which has two training facilities, one near to the Volksparkstadion and in Norderstedt outside of Hamburg, has failed to produce an all-German championship winning team at either U19 or U17 level. They have been doing some outstanding work at attracting top talents in recent seasons, many of which will find their way to the senior side in the coming seasons.

For now, all eyes are on the restart of the 2. Bundesliga campaign, which starts with the ‘Nordderby’ against historical rivals 1967 Deutsche Meister Eintracht Braunschweig on 29 January.

GGFN | Ben McFadyean

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