Franz: Man of steel
It is surely only a coincidence that when Maik Franz was asked on the Eintracht Frankfurt home page what is his favourite film was, it turned out to be the Hollywood blockbuster "Anger Management.? In this comedy, Adam Sandler plays a mild-mannered young man who is wrongly sentenced to an anger management programme.
But there are some players in the Bundesliga who will beg to differ. They have all, at one time or another, come away from a challenge with Franz a little bruised. The defensive warrior is considered one of the toughest players in the Bundesliga.
Starting place not guaranteed at VfL
For a long time, Franz was inconspicuous, like the character Dave Buznik whom Sandler played in "Anger Management.? Growing up in the GDR, Franz played for 1. FC Magdeburg as a youngster. There, he made the jump into the first team before transferring to VfL Wolfsburg in 2001.
In his debut season with the "Wolves? he made 23 Bundesliga appearances. But in the four years that followed there would be no more. Franz then decided to transfer to Karlsruher SC in summer 2006. That this meant playing in the 2. Bundesliga did not bother Franz.
Ascendancy with Karlsruher SC
From the very beginning, he was in the starting lineup of the Baden team?s central defense and he played a large part in KSC?s promotion into the Bundesliga. The fact that Franz did not appear in all 34 of the season?s fixtures surely had something to do with the 14 yellow cards that he accumulated in 31 appearances.
The Bundesliga had been warned, and quickly made its acquaintance with the no-longer anonymous defensive specialist. Opposing attackers, in particular, openly cursed Franz on more than one occassion.
But his uncompromising style of play found support among the fans, who dubbed him "Iron Maik.? At the end of the 2007-08 season, everyone - KSC, the Fans and Franz himself could celebrate the defense of their league status.
A new beginning on the banks of the Main
The following season showed just how important he was for KSC. Edema in his right ankle put Franz out of commission after the tenth match day. He made his comeback on the 18th of April, at which point KSC were mired deep in a relegation battle. Even the captain could not save the men from Baden from falling into the second league.
In the mean time, Franz had succeeded in making a name for himself, and quickly found a new employer amongst the top flight. Eintracht Frankfurt are aware of what he can offer them: "Maik Franz is a seasoned defender, who is strong in the air and one-on-one. He is definitely a good, sensible reinforcement in our central defense and will be able to inspire his fellow players,? said a pleased Michael Skibbe about the new signing. And Franz? colleagues will certainly be glad that he is not inviting them to an "anger management session.