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Ron-Thorben Hoffman describes first Christmas in Sunderland, the festive fixtures period

This was Hoffmann’s first Christmas outside of Germany, but he relished the holiday period as best as he could.

Sunderland v Plymouth Argyle - Sky Bet League One Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Goalkeeper Ron-Thorben Hoffmann has enjoyed his first four months at Sunderland after being loaned out by Bayern Munich in a move that’s already proven to be highly beneficial for the 22-year-old.

With Sven Ulreich acting as Manuel Neuer’s backup keeper at Bayern, the prospect of getting any real minutes at Bayern was fleeting at best for Hoffmann, so he certainly made the right move with how things are working out for him at Sunderland.

So far, he’s made a total of 19 appearances for Sunderland in League One, recording 7 clean sheets in the process. Sunderland currently sit in second place in the League One table level on points with, but behind Rotherham in goal difference, who do also have a match in hand. Promotion to the Championship is the main goal for Sunderland, and with where they’re poised, they have a very realistic possibility of doing so.

In his recent column for kicker, Hoffmann described what it was like celebrating his first Christmas outside of Germany and away from his family. In England, there’s no winter break for clubs like there is in Germany, and by contrast, the schedule intensifies around the holiday period. “So Christmas should take place quite differently this year for the Hoffmann family. In fact, for the first time in my 22 years, we didn’t celebrate together with the whole family in Germany. But one after another,” he wrote. Thankfully, ahead of the holidays, he was able to see his family for a short period during the international break in November. “The international break in mid-November came at just the right time to recalibrate us. I recharged my batteries with my family in Germany for 48 hours and am returning to the Stadium of Light with energy,” he said.

After the November international break, Sunderland went on a nine match unbeaten run bar their Carabao Cup quarterfinals loss to Arsenal FC. Hoffmann started and played the full 90 minutes in all nine of those matches, but Lee Burge deputized for the cup clash against Arsenal. Hoffmann, while annoyed to have missed the opportunity to play against Arsenal, was understanding as to why Burge played instead. “The game at Arsenal in the Carabao Cup quarterfinals is a real highlight. It’s just a shame that I don’t play what, of course, as a competitive athlete I always want. But, as agreed, it’s Lee Burge’s turn at the Emirates Stadium. He plays the cup and has made a major contribution to ensuring that we are even allowed to go to London. I support him, just like he does for me,” he wrote.

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

Sunderland followed up the cup exit with a 3-0 win over Doncaster and then a 5-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday, but Hoffmann wasn’t in the squad that drew 3-3 with Wycombe this past weekend due to a positive coronavirus test. There’s a mild COVID outbreak at the club right now. For what it’s worth, looking back on his season thus far with Sunderland, Hoffmann is pleased with how things have gone. “I am quite happy with my first few months on the island. We are (again) on the way up, seven times in 19 games I was able to keep my box clean. I think I can build on that. I thank all fans on the island and in Germany for the great support and say: I wish you all you dreams come true in 2022 - and stay healthy,” he said.

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