• Berlin
  • A lesson in life’s certainties


A lesson in life’s certainties

Courtesy of a couple of horrendous references, the Sportsdesk tells the story of Karim Benyamina's dream debut for FSV Frankfurt in a 1-1 draw at home against his former employers, 1.FC Union Berlin.

Image for A lesson in life's certainties
Photo courtesy of www.union-foto.de

If the cricket is scheduled in the summer then rain, the rain will surely follow. When you meet a drummer they will endlessly harp on about the fat handed automaton that was big John Bonham.

When you find yourself in times of trouble, it is very unlikely Mother Mary will come to you. As Alanis Morissette once said, isn’t it ironic. Well, no, it’s not, and if somebody had pointed this out to the miserable, and equally talentless, Canadian warbler then the world would be a better place. She was, however, correct in a way. Some things do have a certain inevitability about them.

Facing a former striker, especially a beloved one, means goals conceded. It is a rule woven into the fabric of the universe itself. Karim Benyamina wasn’t even supposed to be fit on Friday night as the 2. Bundesliga started its new season at the ridiculous time of 18:00 on a Friday evening in the middle of July. He had pulled a muscle, so keen was he to play against his former club on debut in the shirt of FSV Frankfurt.

Union’s fans wanted to see him too. They knew he would score, but were comfortably predicting a 3-1 win. Three points in the bag, but the thinking was that he was welcome to get his new career off to a good start. It wasn’t the same as Denis Law’s contemptuous back heel for Man City that he didn’t celebrate. It certainly wasn’t Luis Figo scoring at the Nou Camp, but his goal was always going to happen.

Frankfurt was a goal down. The debutant at the other end, and one of Benyamina’s replacements, Silvio, had opened his account for Union with a penalty that squeezed under the flailing hand of Patric Klandt. The Brazilian flag in front of the Union fans was waving in the breeze just for him, possibly having been dragged out of a loft, unused since the departure of another loved former striker in Köpenick, Daniel Teixeira.

But FSV had pulled themselves well back into the game in the second half, with Union getting pegged back and relying on the pumping of long balls forward to relieve the pressure. Babacar Gueye had already hit the bar with a gloriously impudent chip, catching Marcel Höttecke flat footed off his line, when Benyamina received a ball in the box from Mario Fillinger dropping just below waist height. He hit it on the full without stopping to think, without blinking, and it rocketed into the roof of the net. To call it glorious would be to do it scant justice. It was emphatic. A gift to his new fans, whom will surely follow him as slavishly as the Unioners have done for years.

And Union were now clinging on for dear life. Whereas in the first half Marcus Karl and Christoph Menz had bossed the midfield, and Chinedu Ede and Christopher Quiring had put the frighteners on the Frankfurt full backs with their sheer pace and drive, Uwe Neuhaus had had to put Daniel Göhlert on for Simon Terodde at the death just to keep the valuable point. He must have really needed the Marlboro light that he was gripping on to in the technical area, as it almost didn’t work. Menz’s clumsy, but not bad, challenge gave the hosts a penalty with the last kick of the game.

Gueye must have wondered what he had to do for the omens to fall into favour for him. He leaned back as he hit the ball, watching it sail over the bar as painfully and as poorly as Carli Lloyd would two days later, in the same city, in the World Cup final. Union were overjoyed in the end, they had got away with a point, when it seemed to be over. Benyamina was certain that if he had taken it, then it would have been in the back of the net.

In 2009 Alecko Askandarian scored against all four of his former clubs in a single MLS season. It’s a feat that Benyamina cannot match, but who would bet against him doing it again in the Ruckrunde in Köpenick. By then we will know a lot more about if Union are to reach the place in the top nine of the table that they have set as their goal but, and in the words of another hideous affront to the very word music – and a pox on all of you who bought it – “Well I guess that’s just the way the story goes.“ You see, Mariah Carey understands the hopelessness of losing your love too early. In many ways she is the true footballing poet.

And that’s a sentence that you’d simply never have predicted.