Union Berlin have begun the new season in fine fettle and are simply carrying on from the fantastic finish last season, which saw the Köpenick minnows finish fifth. Sheraldo Becker is already emerging as a stand-out performer and like his team is mirroring the finish to last season. However, it’s not been all plain sailing for the Surinamese attacker.
Back in October last year with first team starts severely limited by Urs Fischer’s preference for a Max Kruse/ Taiwo Awoniyi frontline, Becker hit out publicly. “I didn’t come here to sit on the bench. A player of my qualities has to play. I’m not a substitute, I’m a good player. I know what I can do that’s why I’m frustrated because most of the time I just sit on the bench.
“It’s not a system issue. I also played with Taiwo in attack last season. At first everyone thought I was a winger. I’m an attacker too. I can play with Kruse, with Taiwo. I can play in so many different systems. A player with my qualities has to play – in my opinion.”
The plea didn’t really have the desired effect and the Hinrunde continued with Becker playing second fiddle. Then came Max Kruse’s surprise defection to VfL Wolfsburg in January and Becker seized his chance. Seven starts in the Hinrunde, became fifteen starts in the Rückrunde with three goals and some top performances to help Hertha reach the heady heights of fifth within touching distance of a Champions League spot. He was outstanding in the wins over Mainz and Freiburg (both games with a goal) and impressed also in the clashes with Hertha and Leipzig in the run-in.
Since his time in Holland with Jong Ajax and ADO Den Haag, he has been labelled a speedy winger. Last season and the early part of this one has proved he is also highly adept as part of a central two-man strike force that counters with pace.
The sale of Taiwo Awoniyi and the arrival of Jordan Pefok has seen a new-look frontline for Union, but the duo have seemingly hit it off instantly. A goal and an assist helped Union to an opening day derby win over Hertha and after a quiet game on matchday 2 in the stalemate with Mainz, another goal and assist arrived as the Eisernen beat RB Leipzig on matchday 3.
Only Thomas Müller has more goal creating actions (GCA) than Becker’s four this season. He has recently been voted onto the team council and seen his contract at the club extended to 2025. All in all, things are looking up for Sheraldo Becker and if his performance levels continue, Union look set for another season of huge over-achievement. It’s just a shame that Becker switched his international allegiance from the Netherlands to Suriname, as he would surely have been an outside bet to be a wildcard for the Oranje at the World Cup.