The nation of Austria has a population of around nine million souls and a vibrant professional football league and culture all its own. It also is home to 157 official Bayern Munich fan clubs, one for every 57,000 people. Every year when the Bayern promo train goes on tour over the Christmas break a number of the team’s biggest names, including club legend Karl Heinz Rumminegge, are sent to make visits to Austrian fan clubs. Why? Because the people who run the best club in the world know that to a very large degree Austria is Bayern country.
Marcel Sabitzer is from the Austrian city of Graz, in the province of Styria. Graz is a mere stone’s throw (about three kilometres) from Thal, the birthplace of the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger. They share the typical harsh Graz accent, although to be fair Sabitzer’s is not as thick as Arnold’s. Sabitzer worked his way up through the Osterreichish soccer system, culminating in an all-too-brief but memorable time at the Austrian Rekordmeister, Rapid Vienna. The lead photo is a young Sabitzer competing for Rapid in the Europa League before his barber was apparently kidnapped by the dwarves who live under the Untersberg.
There is something very special when one of your own finally takes the giant leap to join the big club. It’s an event that draws the worldwide Bayern family ever closer, reminding us that we are all a significant part of the Bundesliga’s greatest club. Canadians felt it with Owen Hargreaves and again with Alphonso Davies. Bayern fans from India celebrated when Sapreet Singh first pulled on our legendary red jersey and stepped on the field to compete for our team. Today the people of Austria, and Graz will be enjoying those same feelings.
Graz is a city of around 300,000 people surrounded by gorgeous mountains. And it also is home to 5 official Bayern Munich fan clubs. For the Bayern fans of Graz the Sabitzer signing is a dream come true. One of their own will be carrying the Bayern banner forward.
So I would invite my fellow Bayern fans to join me in raising a glass to Graz tonight. Hopefully we can bask in their reflected joy for a time. And my toast will be a congratulations to the fan clubs in Graz, by name:
Estrella del Sur
Mia San Graz
FCB- Fanklub GRAZ
Weisswurstfraktion - Ober Graz
Prost mein Kameradan. Thank you for sending your native son to fight for our club. We promise to take good care of him and treat him with respect. I only wish I could be with you when he first steps on the pitch in our beloved jersey.