He’s been known as “the stable one” and “the quiet giant” – Oliver Baumann is no loudmouth, not the kind of player whose game is all fireworks, as he says himself: “I think that with me you know what you’re getting and what I’m capable of.”
TSG Hoffenheim knew this when they brought him to the Kraichgau region for the 2014/2015 season. Just two years later, Oli led his team to the Europa League as the Bundesliga keeper who stopped the most shots, and the following season all the way to the Champions League, his greatest success to date.
At that time, trainer Julian Nagelsmann believed that Oli ought to be considered for the national team on account of the consistently high level he was playing at while making hardly any errors. This was primarily a result of the innovative methods used by Oli to keep improving: “I can find fresh motivation every day because I’m always striving for perfection.”
At just 10 years of age he moved to SC Freiburg, passed through all the youth teams at the club and was moulded by the football academy. Oli wore the national colours for the first time in the U18 team and won the German A youth title in 2006/2007 with SC Freiburg’s A juniors. The following season he was the German Cup hero, stopping the decisive penalty against Borussia Dortmund in the final. This was Oli’s second victory as a youth player. He only missed out on the double when southern champions Freiburg were stopped by Dortmund in the semi-final of the German Championship.
A year in the regional league with the second team brought him up to senior level, and he had his début in the Bundesliga at the age of 19 on the last day of the 2009/2010 season. He established himself as the starting keeper, played in the U21 European Championship, and qualified for the Europa League when SC Freiburg were promoted, making his Europa League début in 2013/2014. This time was also formative “because I knew that, in Freiburg in particular, the team’s success depended very much on the keeper’s performance.”
Oli’s positional play is especially noteworthy because he is able to anticipate and defuse situations before they become dangerous. He’s a strong footballer who is hard to beat on the line, and he gives his defence the support and security that it needs.
He sees goalkeeping as a curious sport. The keeper is a misfit with different training routines from the main group, who “tries to prevent the very thing that people come to the stadium for: goals. So you’re always the spoilsport.” But a lot of the time it’s only the opponents who see him like this, as his own fans are pleased to have him on their side.
He was the people’s favourite at SC Freiburg, and at Hoffenheim he commands great respect as a leading player. Because Oli, who also gets involved with social projects, consistently performs at a high level and prefers to be a good keeper than a big talker.