Sebastian Polter scored just 11 goals in the Championship for Queens Park Rangers but he is the talk of the Bundesliga with Union Berlin.
If you’re searching for the perfect example of an enigmatic ‘cult hero’, look no further than Sebastian Polter.
Usually, when a centre-forward with a goal record on the wrong side of one-in-five is on his way out of a club, his departure is usually met with cheers of relief. More ‘good riddance’ than ‘good luck’.
But the outpouring which greeted Polter’s departure from Queens Park Rangers in January 2017 said far more about his personality and his legendary work rate than an ability, or a lack thereof, to put the ball in the back of the net at Championship level.
“I am so sorry to lose Seb,” manager Ian Holloway told the QPR website. “He’s a great professional and has an attitude that I love. Whether its in training or in matches, he gives everything.
“His desire and commitment made him very popular with the fans here, which tells you everything.”
Almost three years on, this big, friendly, German giant is still fondly remembered in this part of West London. And QPR fans will be thrilled to learn that life is treating him rather kindly back home on the continent. Since returning for a second spell at Union Berlin, Polter has gone beyond ‘cult hero’ status to become a bonafide club legend.
Not content with netting 11 times as Union were promoted to the Bundesliga for the first time in their history, he has taken to the top light like the proverbial duck to water.
There was a goal against Bayern Munich last week and, on Saturday, he wrote his name into club folklore forever. No matter what happens between now and the end of time, Polter will always be the man who scored the winning goal in the first ever meeting between Union and Hertha Berlin in Germany’s first division.
He stepped up, the pressure of the world on his shoulders, and slotted an 89th minute spot kick into the net.
“I’m not the hero, the team is the hero,” Polter, in typically understated fashion, told the Bundesliga website while wild celebrations continued around him in a decadent old stadium illuminated a glowing red by flares and fireworks.
Union fans might respectfully disagree. He is the hero.