It has been quite the rise for 21-year-old Denis Huseinbašić as one minute he’s in the Regionalliga-Süd in front of a crowd of 6,176, the next he’s in the Bundesliga scoring in the Rheinderby in front of 54,000. A meteoric rise if ever there was one.
The one thing that connects the two are goals. In his last appearance for Kickers Offenbach in the Regionalliga-Süd against FSV Frankfurt he scored a hattrick and after a season of dominant midfield displays it came as no surprise that a move to a bigger club materialised.
That the ‘bigger club’ was 1.FC Köln was a little surprising, but with Steffen Baumgart’s reputation for improving young players and turning latent talent into Bundesliga talent, the €50,000 move made sense at the same time.
Two games in the Regionalliga-West for Köln II was enough to persuade Baumgart that Huseinbašić was ready to be instantly promoted to the Bundesliga squad and he has taken to the higher tier like a fish to water.
Matchday 5 saw a few minutes as a late substitute, and he appeared again against Nice and Borussia Dortmund for slightly longer. A full debut came in the Europa League home tie with Partizan before he got his chance in the Rheinderby after Dejan Ljubicic limped off.
The 5-2 loss hurt Köln, but the silver lining was a first Bundesliga goal for Huseinbašić in the 83rd minute. With Ljubicic out until next year with a serious knee injury, Baumgart handed the midfielder his first full Bundesliga start at the weekend at home to FC Augsburg and was rewarded with a top display and another goal.
Speaking after the match Baumgart was particularly impressed with his two young goal scorers. “The guys kept working and believing in themselves. The boys continued to play with great intensity. Everyone worked very well against the ball. Deni and Tiggi have developed very well. The two crowned a very good team performance with their goals.”
The 21-year-old midfielder was also pleased with his debut. “We know that we can always come back – just like today with the substitutes, who give us second breath and we win 3-2 in the end. We actually performed well in the last three games, but unfortunately, we didn’t get the three points there. We are overjoyed, it can go on like this.”
Huseinbašić has gone from an unknown Regionalliga midfielder to a Bundesliga starter in no time at all. Köln will be wishing Dejan Ljubicic a speedy recovery but are confident that in Denis Huseinbašić they have uncovered a raw diamond, who can ably deputise.