Young Eintracht Frankfurt talent and Under Armour athlete discusses his relationship with football

Göttingen is a city of slow rhythms, dictated by centuries of deep academic knowledge embodied in one of the world’s most celebrated universities. Frankfurt, on the other hand, is its antithesis; a financial nerve center that never stops, moving constantly in dizzying rhythm. Ansgar Knauff’s game finds itself at the center of these two identities: learning and application on the one, speed and consistency on the other.

Thanks to Under Armour, we had the chance to meet this 21-year-old talent from Eintracht Frankfurt, who’s already earned a German Cup in a Borussia Dortmund jersey, where he honed his game, and a UEFA Europa League championship with the Eagles of the River Main. “I fell in love with football during the 2006 World Cup,” Knauff tells with an articulate shyness unusual and significant for a footballer so exposed to international limelight, “At the time, someone had given me Michael Ballack’s jersey…. There was this vibration that ran through the entire country. From that moment on, I started playing in the park every day with family and friends, I was always outside, even when my mom called me home after work was finished….”

Passions arise from instantaneous, unpredictable epiphanies. Knauff’s was surely that of the German World Cup, a brilliant gateway to what, in a short time, would transform a passion into an existential focus to which he would devote every iota of physical and mental energy. This process would never have happened without the help of his single mother. “I loved the game from the first second I laced up my shoes. I think I played every day of my childhood. Even when I had no practice, I remember being at my first team’s training camp in Göttingen. Those feelings haven’t changed today: I love being on the field, doing practice and staying late…. I strive every day because I want to reach my maximum potential. I have no other motivation outside of this. Without my mother’s support,” continues an excited Knauff, “I wouldn’t be here. She is the most important person in my life and career, and she has literally done everything for me: she has always supported me, taking me to trainings and tryouts, even far away from home. She always let me choose the steps I thought most appropriate for my development as a player. I look for her in the stands before every game…. It means so much to me to play in front of her and my girlfriend.”

The spirit of Göttingen was reflected in Knauff’s early years of academy and professional soccer. His itinerary was populated by the wisest professors of Teutonic soccer, gathered near Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park. The vox populi of North Rhine-Westphalia still describe the beardless Knauff as a model student, blessed with a speed and execution that few have reached on the continental level. Collective opinion also speaks of him as a unique professional for this day and age, one who puts performance first at the expense of social popularity and fame. A philosophy that, as Knauff confirms, still defines his everyday life. “I’m a normal guy. In my free time, I hang out with my family or take walks around Frankfurt. I’m not really interested in doing anything else. I know that I have to give it my all to achieve the goals I had set for myself when I was 15 or 16, when I realized my dream could become a reality. My goals are always the same: to play as much as I can and succeed as much as possible. To be honest, it’s enough for me to improve day to day. I don’t know what the final destination is beyond that.”

Today’s departure point is the scorching hot Frankfurt square, characterized by the die-hard support of one of the warmest fanbases on the Old Continent. “Playing for fans like that is one of the best feelings that football can give. In the city they stop me on the streets and make me feel warm and welcomed…. When we hit the pitch, they can change the course of a game, influencing the outcome. They’re always pushing us beyond our limits. Playing with and for them is great, especially after the painful, silent pandemic period. A few weeks ago, we played in the cup in Helsinki, and thousands of fans flew into Finland: seeing our fans make that journey motivates everyone to train harder.”

The sober reasoning and tireless mentality of this versatile offensive outside player, an ideal standard bearer in the lightning-fast chessboard of contemporary football, are the main reasons for the ‘match made in heaven’ between Knauff and Under Armour. The Baltimore brand, which has shaped its identity in athletic sacrifice and hard work, is the perfect home for the youthful maturity of the Göttingen native. “Having a partner like Under Armour by my side is extremely important,” Knauff explains, “I’ve fostered an excellent relationship with a brand steeped in history and virtuous sports examples. Our shared direction is toward success.” Success at the well-reasoned speed of light. Success at the speed of Ansgar Knauff.

Photo credits:

Under ArmourIMAGO / HMB-Media

Text by

Gianmarco Pacione