ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (December 28, 2017) — If you thought Marcel Schäfer’s debut season with the Tampa Bay Rowdies was spectacular, rest assured that he’s got much bigger plans for 2018.
Schäfer signed with the Rowdies in March of last season after a decade with VfL Wolfsburg in his native Germany. After this upcoming season, he will return to Wolfsburg and take a position with Wolfsburg for the next stage of his career in soccer.
In the meantime, Schäfer is hungry to end his playing career with a trophy in his hands. A Bundesliga winner in 2009 and DFB Pokal Cup winner in 2015, Schäfer is eager to add to his trophy cabinet.
“When you get to my age, you start to think about the end of your playing career,” Schäfer said. “Because of my opportunity with VfL Wolfsburg, it is almost sure that this will be my last season on the field, but I view that as a positive. I am hungrier than ever after our playoff loss to New York. I cannot accept it still, even today. I have one more chance to win a trophy and it would be great to end my career with a title. This city and team deserves it. Nobody can guarantee a title, but I promise that from the first day on, I will do everything possible to win the title.”
Schäfer’s first season in Tampa Bay was great by any standards.
His seven goals and 11 assists earned him a spot in the USL All-League First Team and legitimate consideration for the Most Valuable Player award. All this despite 2017 being his first year in the United States, in a new team, in a new league and in a new position.
“I played fourteen years as a left back and last year for the first time I was a center midfielder,” Schäfer said. “It was a new situation for me being in the core of the team and helping to develop young players and control the game. I had a lot of fun.”
Add in that the 33-year old had played for a year and a half with no offseason breaks and his accomplishments are all the more spectacular. He spent the 2016 Bundesliga winter break recovering from a knee injury sustained against Bayern Munich and then signed with the Rowdies right at the beginning of the United Soccer League season, meaning this offseason was his first break from soccer since summer of 2016.
“When you always give 100 percent for an entire season, in every training session and game, it’s important to have some time away to switch your mind off the game and have time to yourself with family and friends,” he said. “For me, after a year and a half straight with no winter break or summer break, this break has been important for my mind and for my body.”
A few weeks in Germany have served Schäfer and his family well, allowing the chance to catch up with friends and for the kids to see their grandparents, but he’s already itching to return to Tampa Bay and get 2018 underway.
“We are full of energy and ready to get started with the new year,” Schäfer said. “We can’t wait to get back to St. Pete. We love it there. It is a wonderful town. We live in Snell Isle and we made great friends and we really enjoyed our first year in the U.S. and we are really excited to get back.”
Schäfer is already planning workouts with his teammates in January. With only one chapter left in his playing career, there is no time to waste.