“Farewell to Bundesliga Veterans: Saying Goodbye to Union Berlin’s Four Players”

The end of a season always means that we have to part ways. Players go, memories and successes remain. We say goodbye to a Bundesliga veteran, an iron veteran, a flank god and a true fighter – on and off the pitch.

After two seasons – Levin Öztunali moves on

Hardly any other player in the Köpenicker squad has as many appearances in the Bundesliga as he does. With Leverkusen, Bremen, Mainz and most recently with the Irons, Levin Öztunali played a total of 190 games in the German upper house. Only Robin Knoche (281) and Rani Khedira (202) played more often in the Bundesliga.

Öztunali will certainly remember one of two “templates” fondly: In the round of 16 victory against Hertha BSC in the DFB Cup in January 2022, he forced defender Niklas Stark to make it 2-0 with a sharp cross. In two seasons for Union, Öztunali made 26 appearances in the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and UEFA Europa Conference League. “Mete” will no longer break the magic mark of 200 Bundesliga appearances at Union. However, all fingers are crossed that he reaches this mark somewhere else.

Almost six years of Union – Tim Maciejewski leaves the iron

Maciejewski came to Union via stations such as SC Staaken and Hertha BSC and played his first game in the U17s in 2017. Shortly before the corona pandemic, the then 18-year-old recommended himself for the first eleven for the first time: Maciejewski scored 12 goals and 7 assists in 18 A-Junior games – as a right winger.

Consequently, after the end of the U19 season in spring 2020, he signed his first license player contract. Maciejewski was also able to celebrate his Bundesliga debut in the following season: The then 19-year-old came on as a substitute in the closing stages of the 5-0 win over Bielefeld. After a year and a half on loan to Austria Klagenfurt, Maciejewski returned to Wuhle in the summer of 2022 and was an integral part of the squad in the UEFA Europa League.

Flanked into the hearts of the Unioners – Niko Gießelmann’s journey with Union ends in the summer

In the summer of 2020, the native of Hanover moved from then league rival Fortuna Düsseldorf to Köpenick. Gießelmann made 15 appearances in his first season with the Irons and also scored his first assist in the DFB Cup before injuring his shoulder in the second half of the season. He should come back stronger than ever.

In the following season, the then 29-year-old played the best season of his career: with three goals and seven assists, Gießelmann was also instrumental in qualifying for the UEFA Europa League and played in the UEFA Conference League for the first time on a European stage. He played a total of 87 games for Union across all competitions. At the end of this season Niko will leave, the memory of the flank god from the left lingers.

Fought together, won together – Timo Baumgartl is looking for a new challenge

Due to a difficult time at the Dutch first division club PSV Eindhoven, the Irons were able to win the then 25-year-old Böblinger in the summer of 2021 for an initial one-year loan. Baumgartl became a regular in the back three within a few weeks and decided the first half of the season against Leipzig (2-1) with a goal and an assist, almost single-handedly. In the DFB Cup, “Baumi” didn’t miss a minute until the semi-final defeat.

In the second half of the season, the Swabian was seeded until a diagnosis in April redefined the priorities: testicular cancer. With the support of his girlfriend Julia, his family, his friends, the Union medical department and the entire club, and his own willpower, he beat cancer and fought back. On September 18th, 2022 he made his emotional comeback in the 2-0 win against Wolfsburg – in the starting XI and only five months after the diagnosis. Baumi made a decisive contribution to the first time the Irons qualified for the UEFA Europa League with his sporting achievements. This cliché is as old as football itself, but it applies here: some stories can only be written by football. The entire Union family is happy that they were able to accompany Timo Baumgartl on the difficult path to recovery and his emotional comeback.

All four players wrote their own history with 1. FC Union Berlin. But there is one story that Levin, Tim, Niko and Baumi will always have in common: They will all always be part of the squad that has played the best season so far in Union’s young Bundesliga history.

Once a Unioner, always a Unioner!

2023-05-26 17:14:24
Four irons leave Union at the end of the season | professionals

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