“I believe in myself and am going to battle.”
Such a thing would have been easy enough for Bård Finne to speak at the end of last season. Even with Yuya Osako finding his groove late and showing some promise as a scoring threat, primary striker Anthony Ujah was leaving for Werder Bremen and Patrick Helmes seemed destined for something other than a return to a leading role in the 1. FC Köln attack.
And while perhaps it was something he said to his coach or the club’s sporting director when rumors of a loan to Union Berlin began to surface, the quote is a much more recent statement of confidence from the 20-year-old Norwegian.
As the offensive cabinet has been fully restocked through the transfer market the last few weeks, particularly through the arrivals of Anthony Modeste and Philipp Hosiner, Finne has continued to show his fight. Geissblog’s Marc L. Merten says Finne is “always active at training,” trying to deliver in front of net, either driving shots into goal himself or moving the ball to a teammate for a better opportunity than he has for himself.
“I have improved myself well over the last year and a half and am certain I can continue this development,” says Finne about his current situation in the squad. “We have many good players offensive players, but I, too, am a good player.”
Of course, Finne’s exhibition of confidence may also have been influenced by his own coach.
When Simon Zoller requested he be allowed to return to 1. FC Kaiserslautern for the Rückrunde last season, his wish was granted, but not without some consequences. Peter Stöger was openly disappointed in Zoller’s decision to head to the 2. Bundesliga rather than stay in Köln and fight for playing time in the first division, sentiments he has repeated this summer, opining that Zoller likely wishes he had made a different decision, especially in light of the progress shown by the aforementioned Osako.
And Stöger’s response to Finne’s determination?
“It very much pleases and registers with me,” says the coach.
Whether the bluster is intended as a coach-pleaser or simply a genuine result of his true competitive nature, Finne is winning fans among the EffZeh faithful for more than just the promise he has exhibited in limited time on the field. Hopefully, his equalizer at home against Leverkusen, his first Bundesliga goal, will not be his final highlight in service of the Ruut un Wiess.
Based solely on his confidence, I think that’s a safe bet.