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Sebastian Pelzer

Sebastian Pelzer
Pelzer in 2008
Personal information
Full name Sebastian Pelzer[1]
Date of birth (1980-09-24) 24 September 1980 (age 43)
Place of birth Trier, West Germany
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Position(s) Left-back, centre-back
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1995–1997 FSV Salmrohr
1997–2002 1. FC Kaiserslautern II 60 (6)
2002–2004 Blackburn Rovers 1 (0)
2004–2005 Eintracht Trier 48 (1)
2005–2006 1. FC Saarbrücken 27 (0)
2006–2009 Dynamo Dresden 60 (0)
2009–2010 Rot-Weiss Ahlen 36 (0)
2010–2015 Hansa Rostock 129 (1)
International career
1995–1996 Germany U15 2 (0)
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Sebastian Pelzer (born 24 September 1980) is a German former professional footballer who played as a left-back and centre-back. Pelzer represented Germany at youth level and made 130 appearances in the second Bundesliga. As a 15-year-old Pelzer played as left-back for the German National U15 side that played against England U15's in the Olympiastadion (Berlin) in front of 70,000 people, they won 3–0.[2] On 28 December 2019, Pelzer was announced as the new technical director for Major League Soccer franchise Chicago Fire.[3]

Playing career

Born in Trier, Pelzer began his career with FSV Salmrohr before joining 1. FC Kaiserslautern as a 16-year-old. He played for the U19's for two years before progressing to their reserve side for three years when he was promoted to first team by Otto Rehhagel who coached the club to the Bundesliga title in 1998. In 2002 he moved to England, signing for Blackburn Rovers. He made his debut as a reserve player before making his first team appearance in the Football League Cup against Walsall. However, injuries were to blight his time at Blackburn and he was unable to make it back into the first team.

He returned to Germany after eighteen months at Ewood Park, joining his hometown club, SV Eintracht Trier 05 who were fighting relegation at the time. Pelzer helped the club back into safety where they finished that season in impressive 11th place. He played here for a season and a half, leaving in 2005 after the club's relegation from the 2. Bundesliga. Linked to A.C. Perugia Calcio, Real Murcia, Hannover 96 and Borussia Mönchengladbach he instead was advised by his agent to make the short journey to 1. FC Saarbrücken, where he played for one season. Despite ambitious plans for promotion with the signing of players such as Mustapha Hadji Saarbrücken suffered relegation, and Pelzer left the club. He then signed for Dynamo Dresden in October 2006, where he became a fans' favourite, and was made captain just two months after signing. The club came close to promotion into the second Bundesliga but faltered late on in the season. Pelzer helped lead the club to success in the Saxony Cup competition of 2007.

Pelzer left the club in the summer of 2007, with the intention of returning to England following trials with Hull City and Plymouth Argyle. Whilst on trial with Plymouth, manager Ian Holloway indicated he wished to sign the player but Pelzer's agent rejected the terms on the grounds of money, something Pelzer was not aware of at the time. He eventually returned to Dynamo Dresden, after the club had agreed a shirt sponsorship deal, and could afford to sign him. Pelzer was soon made captain again and helped the club qualify for the new third Bundesliga in 2008.

His contract with Dynamo was annulled in January 2009 at his own request. On 12 January 2009, he moved up a league to join Bundesliga 2 side Rot-Weiss Ahlen who had tried to sign the player during the previous summer. On 9 June 2010, he signed a two-year contract with F.C. Hansa Rostock.[4] Pelzer was immediately made captain of the club and was used extensively in the clubs marketing campaign. During the promotion season of 2010–11 Pelzer made 37 league appearances missing just one match through suspension. He also led the club to the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Cup in 2011. The club made major changes to the promotion winning side, with Pelzer making just 14 league appearances for season. The new team struggled and were eventually relegated after just one season in Bundesliga 2. Pelzer signed a one-year extension to his contract and was back playing regularly in the first team. In 2013 Pelzer suffered a debilitating injury to his toe. Despite this career threatening injury the club extended his contract by two further years with plans to keep Pelzer at the club after his playing career.

In 2015 Pelzer officially retired from playing due to the injury. He has since become a well-known and popular presence in the media appearing in broadcasts in both his native Germany and in England. Pelzer is fluent in English from his time spent playing there. For five years he has sat on the German board of the PFA.[citation needed]

Post-playing career

On 28 December 2019, Sebastian Pelzer was announced as the new Technical Director of Major League Soccer franchise Chicago Fire. The official press release stated: "[Pelzer] will work on all aspects of the Fire’s football operations and will report to new Fire Sporting Director Georg Heitz. In his role as Technical Director, Pelzer, will scout and evaluate players locally and abroad; help establish relationships with clubs around the world; work closely with Fire Head Coach Raphael Wicky and the coaching and technical staff; as well as help with the football operations budget and team salary cap."[5]

In an article in the Chicago Tribune, Heitz described Pelzer as a “maniac” with an extensive knowledge of players. “Sebastian is a database. He knows so many players, he’s interested in various markets. He monitors players every day. He really, in a positive sense, is quite a bit of a maniac when it comes to players. He always tries to find players every day.”[6]

Chicago Fire owner Joe Mansueto describes both Georg Heitz and Sebastian Pelzer as “critical to our future.” Perhaps unusually for an owner he went on to say, “I’m willing to spend as fast as Georg and Sebastian are willing to build in terms of a scouting organization and building up our development of the academy and youth programs.”[7]

On August 18, 2021, it was announced that Fire Owner, Mansueto, had purchased FC Lugano and that the Fire and FC Lugano were to work together as sister clubs.[8] Pelzer was immediately brought in to oversee recruitment and strategy for the Swiss club. Speaking in the Swiss Press Pelzer stated on his role at Lugano, "Of course we exchange ideas regularly. I am in daily contact with [FC Lugano sports coordinator] Carlos da Silva. It's important not to have diametrically different ideas about football."[9]

Pelzer's impact during the club's first season would immediately prove successful, as FC Lugano were able to win their first title in 29 years, winning the 2021–22 Swiss Cup.[10]

Under Pelzer Chicago Fire have shown a remarkable ability to make big returns on their player investments. Particularly from transfers to the English Premier League, a league Pelzer knows well from his time spent playing there. By January 2023 it is estimated[by whom?] Pelzer earned Chicago $37 million USD with the transfers of Gabriel Slonina[citation needed] and Jhon Duran.[11] Slonina was fast-tracked from their Academy and Duran was bought for just $2m.

Pelzer spotted Duran while watching another player at his former club Envigado and quickly sanctioned a £1.5m move. He was convinced the club could make a big profit on the youngster, who moved to America in early 2022 and quickly attracted the attention of several Premier League clubs.

References

  1. ^ "Sebastian Pelzer". worldfootball.net. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  2. ^ ""Berti, wir kommen!"" (in German). berliner-zeitung.de. 8 May 1996.
  3. ^ "Chicago Fire FC Names Sebastian Pelzer Technical Director". chicagofire.com. 28 December 2019.
  4. ^ "Hansa verstärkt sich doppelt" (in German). kicker.de. 9 June 2010. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  5. ^ "Chicago Fire FC Names Sebastian Pelzer Technical Director". chicagofire.com. 28 December 2019.
  6. ^ "Chicago Fire's signing of Jhon Jader Duran isn't just a move for the future. It's the result of a burgeoning scouting department". chicagotribune.com. 13 January 2021.
  7. ^ "Joe Mansueto willingness to spend". chicagotribune.com. 14 January 2021.
  8. ^ "Chicago Fire FC Owner and Chairman Joe Mansueto Purchases Swiss Super League Club FC Lugano | Chicago Fire FC". chicagofirefc.com.
  9. ^ "DWir erbauen für den FC Lugano keine Luftschlösser". SFV.
  10. ^ "Der FC Lugano gewinnt den 97. Schweizer Cupfinal". Bluwin.ch. 9 February 2022.
  11. ^ "Durán, el niño de oro de Colombia". 20 January 2023.

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