Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. He was the second man to walk on the moon, and therefor he never reached the fame of Neil Armstrong, and never got his moment in the spotlight. One might say, history has forgotten Buzz Aldrin. Football is full of stories about players that were set to change history, but that never got there. Here is the story of Marco Villa.
It is the fourth match day of the 96/97 season. Gladbach are 1-0 down, and coach Bernd Krauss has to turn around the game against a strong Werder Bremen side. He looks to the bench, and on it he finds a boyish looking 18 year old, with curly hair. His name is Marco Villa, and coach Bernd Krauss is betting on him to change the course of the game. Villa fails to do that, but his vigorous performance gives him a place in the starting line up in the next home match against the Hamburger SV. It takes Villa exactly 20 minutes before he gets the ball into the net. Villa is 18 years and 50 days old on that day, and is to this day the youngest goalscorer for Borussia Mönchengladbach.
“Marco will be one of the best strikers this club has ever seen”, German football legend Stefan Effenberg remarks in one of the training sessions in the following week. The media started to sing songs of praise for the youngster, a star had been born. Or so it seemed.
Villa struggles in the coming weeks after his first goal to get a place in the starting line up. Repeated injuries hold him back, a transfer to Hertha BSC falls through at the last minute. The media, and the fans seem to have forgotten the man they had hinged their hopes on a while ago. Villa transfers to SV Ried in Austria, but is only second choice. Austrian international Ronald Brunnmayr is the coach’s first choice striker. Villa continues his career in Greece at Phanathinaikos. Injuries hold him back again once again.
In 2001 Villa returns to Germany. “Der Club” from Nürnberg is willing to give the striker one last chance at reaching glory in the Bundesliga. Numerous injuries leave him again unable to make a good impression. After two years, and just 11 games, Villa has to leave the club. This time his way leads him to Italy. The Seria C club AC Arezzo is Villa’s next destination. The fans, the press, and everybody else in Germany forget Villa once again.
Villa’s way in Italy continued, from club to club, at some point he played in the fifth division of Italian football. The story of Marco Villa is one of many. Many young players never manage to come through and live up to their potential. Marco Villa was set to become a star in the Bundesliga, maybe even a star of international format. Injuries, and coaches that never gave him a chance denied him this chance. Millions of people do not know who Buzz Aldrin is, or what has happened to him. Now you know what has happened to Marco Villa.
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(The title for this post was taken from the book with the same title by Norwegian author Johan Harstad. His stuff his excellent, and is translated into many different languages. Read his books!!!)