Stiepermann thrilled to show City fans that his ‘born to score goals’ comment wasn’t a joke
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Marco Stiepermann told Norwich City fans he was ‘born to score goals’ – the only problem was, he was filling in as a left-back at the time.
Yet on Saturday the rampaging midfielder became just the second player to join star striker Teemu Pukki in double figures for goals during this remarkable season. He was true to his word.
Cast your mind back to October 2017, just a few months after the Borussia Dortmund youth product had joined from German second-tier side VFL Bochum for a reported £1million as a rather unknown quantity.
Stiepermann’s strength and determination soon found him persevering in defence, so it took plenty of City fans by surprise when he said: “It’s my first time playing full-back and I like it. Normally I’m an offensive player and I feel like I was born to score goals.
“I started as a striker and played often in midfield, but the coach wanted to try something.”
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It almost became a bit of a running joke during a forgettable first season in England, with Jamal Lewis assuming the left-back role from Christmas and Stiepermann’s season ruined by injury, having hernia surgery in February.
Just look at him now though.
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The 28-year-old has 10 goals and eight assists to his name from 45 games in all competitions, enjoying a superb campaign as Pukki’s chief support, getting the best out of the Finland international regularly.
So in the aftermath of scoring a thumping opener during a 2-1 home win over Blackburn on Saturday, which sealed promotion to the Premier League, Stiepermann couldn’t stop smiling.
“I came here and said I was born to score goals!” the Canaries star said with a chuckle. “I know some fans were joking about it but I think I’ve proved some people what I’m able to do.
“I think I scored my last two or three goals outside the 18-yard box, I think I have a strong power shot.”
The former Greuther Furth midfielder earned 52 caps at youth level between under-16 and under-20 levels for Germany.
Jurgen Klopp also gave Stiepermann his first-team Bundesliga debut for Dortmund at 18, having been a regular scorer at youth levels, before going to tack up over 160 appearances in the second tier – with five goals in 29 games for Cottbus his previous best return.
So Daniel Farke knew he had the raw materials to work with, if he could get Stiepermann up and running in Norfolk, and the promotion winner is so grateful for his head coach’s faith.
“I think it was easy for him, with such a good squad!” he joked, with spirits still flying high in the aftermath of the celebrations against Blackburn.
“It was not the easiest way for him as well, after such a first season, but it has worked out.
“The job he has done, to play his style, that deep belief in the style. He trusted the players he wanted to sign and it’s worked out.”
MORE: Stiepermann just can’t stop smiling as Canaries seal promotionStiepermann admits there were nerves ahead of the crucial clash with Rovers in front of the Sky Sports cameras at the weekend, with the home crowd desperately hoping for a first Carrow Road promotion party since 1960.
And he pointed to the importance of the four successive draws which kept City’s unbeaten run going before they sealed the deal.
“This is quite normal, we are all humans,” he continued. “When you look at Leeds, they lost two games in a row, so you can see how important the points were for us.
“In the end we won the most important game of the season and I think we had strong nerves.”
That triumph leaves the Canaries unbeaten in 13 matches and in need of just a point at Aston Villa on the final day of the season on Sunday, to ensure Sheffield United can’t catch them and crown a remarkable story.
Stiepermann concluded: “Of course the first target was to get promoted and now we have the opportunity to be the champions – and I think the pressure is going away now and we can play really with freedom.”
Like so many of City’s imports from Germany, a little bit of time and patience has proved well worth it. But now Stiepermann has gone from a rather forgettable first season in yellow and green to being a player that supporters will remember for many years to come.