“A childhood dream to play in the Bundesliga”
Bungert to end his career at the end of the season
After 10 years as a professional, the 32-year-old will retire at the end of the season.
Niko Bungert will end his career as a professional footballer at the end of the season. The 32-year-old captain of 1. FSV Mainz 05 announced his decision on Friday. Bungert will remain at the club and start a trainee programme in the autumn.
Niko Bungert is the longest-serving member in the current Mainz squad, having signed from Kickers Offenbach in 2008 along with head coach Jörn Andersen. A year later they were celebrating the promotion into the Bundesliga. The Bochum-born centre-half has played 214 times for Mainz, 162 of those games coming in the Bundesliga.
“I have fulfilled my childhood dream to become a footballer and to play in the Bundesliga, which I’m very grateful for. When I have arrived at Mainz eleven years ago, I never imagined having such an unforgettable time here. I have so many positive footballing memories to look back on, even if I haven’t played much recently. Ending my professional career isn’t an easy decision for me, but in the last weeks it’s become clear that this is the right time to do so,” said Bungert. “Mainz will definitely remain home for me and my family. Mainz 05 is my club and therefore I couldn’t sign for another team. I also have been given the opportunity to have a career here after my professional one. I’m excited for this new challenge and I am thankful for the chance. Now I have focus solely on the team and our remaining Bundesliga games. I want to enjoy my final few weeks on the pitch and achieve as much as possible with the side.”
Bungert has already completed a course in sport management during his professional career. As part of his trainee programme, he should receive insights into how various parts of the football club work. After the programme Bungert it will then be decided what kind of role Bungert will take at the club.
Sporting director Rouven Schröder said: “Niko Bungert is the captain and has been a key figure at the club for many years. He is a great example of someone making the most of their opportunites, by playing with passion and staying loyal to a club. We are happy that we have found a way to keep him at Mainz 05 after his playing career. Thanks to the trainee programme, Niko will have the chance to get to know the club behind-the-scenes. We can then decide in what function he will stay at Mainz 05.”