Christian Mathenia often had to line up as number two, but he ended up playing every game – because he doesn’t give up and always sees a chance.
Christian’s parents must have noticed early that their son was addicted to football. “I had a goalkeeper coach as a child and cried when the training was cancelled,” says the in Mainz borned keeper. He finally had the idols on his doorstep and lived opposite the old Bruchweg Stadium in Mainz. Because he didn’t make it directly to Mainz 05, he switched to Hassia Bingen: “There I saw the chance to be discovered.“
A tough guy
His ambition, developed in his youth, was shown years later in an almost frightening way: In Darmstadt times he once played to the end with a middle hand fracture, in Nuremberg after a collision he was unconscious, bleeding on the tongue and still remained on the field until the end: “The main thing is we scored one point.“
At the age of 14 he was rewarded for his detour via Bingen and was allowed to enter the Mainz youth, which he then passed through to the professional team setup. This was not the first time that Christian’s perseverance and optimism paid off. The qualities carried him through his career, alongside hard work, and the support of his parents. His father even slept in the car from the U15 to the U17 when Christian was training: “He drove me to training and, since he was a truck driver and had a late shift, he always had to sleep in the car.“
Still as a regional league goalkeeper of the Mainzer Reserve, Christian got a taste of the Bundesliga air for the first time. However, he never a game. So he switched to Darmstadt 98 and, although he allegedly had the former Mainzer Christian Wetklo in front of him, Mathenia became number one, played all the games and surprisingly rose to the top of the league with Darmstadt as the best keeper of the 2nd Bundesliga. Also in the first Bundesliga year he kept strong and played a big part in maintaining the class.
He is sometimes called a classic goalkeeper – he is strong on the line and in one-on-one situations, has strong reflexes and reactions like his role model Oliver Kahn once did. For a long time he was regarded as calm, but especially in Nuremberg’s relegation year he took on responsibility and was often loud in the changing rooms – certainly due to his good performances also equipped with a lot of self-confidence: “You mature with your career, the last four years I was only in the last third of the Bundesliga, I know the situation.“
After the two years in Darmstadt, Christian switched to Hamburger SV, where he got a lot of playing time in the first season behind the often injured René Adler and in the following season he had a thrilling duel with U21 European Champion Julian Pollersbeck. After the HSV relegation, the transfer to the 1st FC Nuremberg followed and Christian was again first seen as number two. But although the club also got relegated, it was thanks to its parades from the eighth matchday that the fight for class preservation had remained open for the Nuremberg team for so long.
There wer a lots of offers afterwards, but Christian, who now also became father for the first time, decided to stay in Nuremberg – not only because his child was born in the club-delivery room. He likes traditional clubs, an emotional environment pushes him. “We are sure that Christian has the class to shape an era”, said sports director Robert Palikuca – such was the identification with the new fan favourite after only one season.
The club had the headline #Maschinia2024 on its social media channels, and the media had already found many descriptions for him: he worked like a “big, powerful magnet”, was the “tower in the defensive battle” and often in his career the “second fiddle” – but with “powerful crescendo”.
Christian’s calm way of always believing in the positive always rewarded him and made him stand out, especially in the fight for class preservation: “Maybe it’s because of my temperament that I flourish under pressure.”