Guido Burgstaller could make striking impact for Austria

Forward on comeback trail after reviving career with Nürnberg and Schalke in Germany

Guido Burgstaller: the striker’s career stalled at Cardiff City but has been revived  in the Bundesliga. Photograph: Getty

Guido Burgstaller: the striker’s career stalled at Cardiff City but has been revived in the Bundesliga. Photograph: Getty

 

The loss of Marc Janko due to a bout of tonsillitis seems to confirm that Austrian boss Marcel Koller is running low on luck. But the big striker’s absence opens the door to Guido Burgstaller whose club form this season suggests he might prove an even greater threat.

The 28-year-old has just 10 caps for his country – although that is eight more than the other two strikers combined – and has yet to score but he arrives into Dublin off the back of a season that has transformed his reputation

Burgstaller left his Rapid Wien four years ago for Cardiff City when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was in charge. He featured in just five games, scoring once, and though he did okay, a change of coach meant he was suddenly unwanted.        

“After four weeks I was not allowed to play, not even to train with the pros,” he recalled recently. “I even had to clear my locker in the cabin and train with the amateurs. I was not even told why I did not get a chance. I was only informed by letter that I cannot train and play.”

Runaway top scorer

He agreed a move to Nürnberg in the German second division where things started to click. Having previously spent move of his time out on the left, he increasingly featured up front for his new side and the goals began to flow.

By the midway point in this season, he was the division’s runaway top scorer with 14 goals in 16 games and so in January Schalke 04, then in the midst of an injury crisis, nipped in ahead of others to sign him.

The €1.5 million fee reflected the fact that he could have left for free in the summer but officials at his new club were fairly blunt about his lack of pedigree with one openly observing that: “We’ll give it a try. There is no financial risk for us.”

Six months on and he looks to have earned the right to be Schalke’s main man next season with long-time number one Klaas-Jan Huntelaar allowed to leave after seven good years in order to finish his career back at Ajax.

Doldrums

Burgstaller, or “Burgi” as he is known, got nine goals in 17 Bundesliga appearances for his new club plus three in five in the Europa League, and there is a real sense now that he can kick-start a career he was partly to blame for allowing to remain so long in the doldrums.

“His time in England with Cardiff obviously led to a change in his thinking,” Schalke’s sporting director, Axel Schuster, told the German media. “He wanted to change something. Some players first have to sow their wild oats. They only take the next step when they take a second run at things.”

His form in Gelsenkirchen earned him a recall from Koller in March who had not troubled him for two years . While he has still not scored for the national side he has shown that, he knows where the goal is.

“It would be time now, but you cannot force it,” he said this week as he contemplated the trip to Dublin. “Thank God, though, I’ve proven that I can score goals.”

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