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Ron-Thorben Hoffmann on Sunderland & League One: “This is beer, not bubbly...”

Ron-Thorben Hoffmann recently shared his thoughts on what life has been like at Sunderland after joining from Bayern Munich.

Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

Ron-Thorben Hoffmann has enjoyed a decent start to life at Sunderland in English Football League One since joining from Bayern Munich on deadline day of the summer transfer window.

Hoffmann has made a total of seven appearances for the Black Cats, boasting a record of five wins, one draw, and one loss from said matches. He’s also recorded three clean sheets in the process. He’s quickly become Lee Johnson’s go-to starter between the sticks and the move to Tyne and Wear is proving to be fit for purpose for what it’s worth, since he didn’t see a clear path for first team minutes in Bayern’s first team behind both Manuel Neuer and Sven Ulreich.

It took until deadline day to get Hoffmann’s loan deal over the line to move to Sunderland along with Leon Dajaku. It was clear for Hoffmann that he’d have to look elsewhere than Bayern if he really wanted to get first team minutes somewhere, having outgrown the reserve team. With all of the moving parts between Alexander Nubel getting loaned out to AS Monaco, and Bayern bringing Ulreich back from Hambrug SV, chances for Hoffmann making first team appearances were incredibly thin. At Sunderland, he’s gaining valuable time and experience.

In a recent column for kicker, Hoffmann explained that when he and his agents were looking for feasible clubs to transfer to, Sunderland had a certain allure that he really fancied. “Hope and new opportunities alternate with broken deals. But one thing is becoming more and more concrete. On the island. In Sunderland. At the traditional club AFC. I’m really up for that. Five times English champion, average attendance of 33,000, great ambitions to march through from the third division to the Premier League. And: A rivalry with Newcastle, which turns the pairing against FCB in 1860 into a petting zoo,” he wrote when entertaining the idea of a loan move there.

Fast forward to the transfer being finalized on deadline day, Hoffmann had to depart Frankfurt to Newcastle at 6am, but when he landed in the U.K, his luggage had gotten lost. Between that misfortune, all of the COVID tests, and post-Brexit formalities from travelling from the European Union into the United Kingdom, his first day in England before putting pen to paper was incredibly hectic. “Don’t think about it. Keep going. I go through the check without any problems. Then it’s off to the stadium for a first interview and photo shoot. Only the contract has still not been signed. We sit in the same room with my advisor, and we keep networking virtually with lawyers and managers. Do we have practice in it, in the remote, because of Corona. And then, at 11:12 pm: Hallelujah, it’s done and I’ll sign my contract with Sunderland AFC,” he described of that day.

Just over a week after completing the move to Sunderland, Hoffmann was in the starting lineup to face league rivals Accrington Stanley at the Stadium of Light. It was an occasion that matched everything he hope it would be, as he wrote. “And then, as if painted, the day before my mother’s birthday is the top game against Accrington in their own stadium. First against second. The whole stadium is singing and shaking. I’m in the starting line-up and it’s only now that I understand why this is real football, every cliché is true,” he described. “This isn’t the Netflix series “Sunderland till I Die”, but that’s exactly why it was shot. This is beer, not bubbly, this is English football and not the Champions League, there are so many and so real emotions, and right now I know: I did it right, I want to be right here and now, in this team, this stadium, with and for these people,” he continued. Sunderland won that match 2-1.

Sunderland v Accrington Stanley - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images