Union Berlin sign experienced keeper Michael Gspurning
Photo: 1. FC Union Berlin

1. FC Union Berlin have signed up another goalkeeper to their ranks, but there’s every chance Michael Gspurning will never get to play for the club.

The 35-year-old is much travelled, but has been signed by Jens Keller’s men to act as back-up and mentor to young goalkeepers Jakob Busk and Daniel Mesenhöler.

The Austrian joins the club having spent last season as back-up to Ralf Fährmann at FC Schalke 04, before being released in the summer.

Vienna to Berlin, via Greece, USA and Gelsenkirchen

His long career began at Austria Vienna, but he never played for the first team and joined DSV Leoben in Austria’s Erste Liga, where he made 61 appearances. He then had two years with ASKÖ Pasching, where he acted mainly as a backup.

He went on to play for Greek Super League side Skoda Xanthi for five years, playing 89 times, and then moved to the USA to play for Seattle Sounders, where he was also first choice in his two years there, before brief spells back in Greece at PAOK and Platanias.

He moved to play for Schalke’s second team in early 2015, but after impressing he was promoted to the first team last season. His only game came in the DFB-Pokal defeat to Borussia Mönchengladbach, and he lost his regular place on the bench once Fabian Giefer returned to full fitness.

Gspurning concedes to Gladbach's Lars Stindl in his only Schalke appearance | Photo: Ruhr Nachrichten/dpa
Gspurning concedes to Gladbach's Lars Stindl in his only Schalke appearance | Photo: Ruhr Nachrichten/dpa

Gspurning to show the youngsters a thing or two

New Union head coach Jens Keller had been looking for an older hand to work with Busk and Mesenhöher, who are aged just 22 and 21 respectively. They have also let go of former first choice Daniel Haas, Mohamed Amsif and Steve Kroll in that department over the summer.

Helmut Schulte, head of the licensed players department, said that Gspurning “has seen much in his long career.” He believes his experience will help both Busk and Mesenhöler to develop further.

Gspurning himself admitted that he knows his role in the side. “I’ll try to help them both reach their peak potential,” he said. “I have gained a lot of experience in my career and I am sure I can show [them] a thing or two along the way.”

Quotes via 1. FC Union Berlin.