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Jamilu Collins: Facing Bayern Munich was the toughest game of my career

29 September 2019

Paderborn defender Jamilu Collins struggled at the start of Saturday’s game against Bayern Munich but then gave his team hope. Despite defeat, the 25-year-old Nigerian’s first performance on a bigger stage was promising.

Jamilu Collins looked as though he had just finished a training session. He had taken his shirt off, revealing his six pack, but there wasn’t a drop of sweat to be seen on the 25-year-old. Collins had just run 11 kilometers around Paderborn’s pitch, though. “This was the toughest game of my career,” the Nigerian said, smiling but in some pain.

He and Paderborn had just lost 3-2 at home against Bayern Munich, putting up a strong fight against the defending champions. The newly-promoted side weren’t too far away from securing a point against their all-powerful opposition. And Paderborn had Collins to thank for Bayern’s wobble.

Battle with Gnabry

With his thunderous strike to pull Paderborn within one goal, the last gasps of hope rang around the stadium. “I tried it in the first half, but the ball went wide. But I really wanted to score,” Collins said, with a face full of belief. The defender met a clearance perfectly, hammering the ball past Manuel Neuer, who was left with no chance. Once again though, Paderborn ended the game empty handed and remain bottom of the table. “We’re at our limits,” said head coach Steffen Baumgart. “It’s just not enough.”

The same words could also have been applied to Collins’ first half. In his left back spot, he spent most of the day battling with Bayern’s Serge Gnabry. Largely he came out second best, and both Collins and his teammates were grateful that Gnabry and the rest of Bayern’s attack were wasteful with their chances.

“I’m happy with the result, but not with the manner of victory,” Niko Kovac said afterwards, referring to his player’s inability to make the most of the attacking situations they created.

Collins struggled against Gnabry but improved in the second half

Long-range rocket

After Gnabry finally put Bayern ahead, Philippe Coutinho doubled the lead. But Paderborn were undeterred, and in fact the second goal seemed to spur them into life. The motto seemed to be: What have we got to lose? And the same was true of Collins. The defender won far more challenges, found more ways to play out of trouble and ran so much up and down the touchline that he became one of the players Bayern suddenly struggled to control.

Watch the highlights below.

Kai Pröger gave Paderborn the feeling that something special was possible when he scored. Collins, inspired by Paderborn’s first home goal of the season, sent a rocket into the back of the net to give them belief when all looked lost again.

It was the first game on the bigger stage for the Nigerian defender. Collins has played just six Bundesliga games so far having played for Paderborn in the second division last year and in Croatia for HNK Rijeka before that.

Collins: “There’s more to come”

If he can stabilise his performance across 90 minutes in the future and consistently reach his top level, then Paderborn will surely not finish bottom in Germany’s top flight. It’s clear already that a lot of Paderborn’s hopes are linked to Collins’ performances.

The 25-year-old isn’t short of confidence. He was asked whether his goal past Neuer was his best yet, or whether more long-range strikes were to come. “We will see. There’s more to come,” Collins said.

Baumgart wasn’t keen to focus on one specific player after the unfortunate defeat. “‘I’m not happy with the result, but I am with the performance,” Baumgart said afterwards, striking the opposite tone to Kovac. Jamilu Collins can rest assured that he was included in that praise.

By Jörg Strohschein. This report first appeared in DW, the German public service broadcaster.

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