From the district class to the Bundesliga within just three years? For Greuther Fürth’s Dickson Abiama, this dream became a reality in the summer. In his first year as a professional, the striker achieved legendary status within the club.
“I didn’t know what exactly I was doing,” admits Dickson Abiama, still slightly incredulous, in an interview with SPOX and Goal addressed on May 23 this year.
On that day, the 23-year-old striker was just a little more than a turn of the pointer in the season finale of the 2nd Bundesliga against Fortuna Düsseldorf when he heaved Greuther Fürth to victory in the 83rd minute with a right-footed shot and thus into the Bundesliga – and made himself immortal by the shamrocks.
Abiama describes this Sunday afternoon as “pretty crazy”. The same name also applies to the Nigerian’s previous career, as Abiama’s first professional career last season. Even more: Within just three years – and four of them in Germany – he advanced from a regional level player to a Bundesliga player. It’s a story like a fairy tale.
“That was his trademark”: A football field as the starting shot
Christian Jonczy remembers his first meeting with Abiama very clearly. “Dickson’s mother came to me with him and said that her son would like to play football,” says the youth leader at SpVgg Mögeldorf, Abiama’s first station. SPOX and Goal. While all the formalities were on the way, Jonczy sent the then 17-year-old Abiama to the A-youths. “You could see right away that he has a lot of talent,” enthuses Jonczy: “His speed and long legs were his trademark.”
In terms of tactics, however, Abiama had deficits. “He was too impetuous and we had to give him a lot of support,” said Jonczy, looking back.
Logically, the club in the east of Nuremberg was Abiama’s first club at all. The attacker, who was born in the Nigerian metropolis of Lagos and followed his parents to Germany in 2016, had previously played in his uncle’s academy. But that was “not a real center, but a simple sports field,” says Abiama: “At most we were a handful of people who trained in the morning or in the evening.”
In his new home, football should serve as an integration aid. “I could hardly speak German and had no friends or someone I could go out with in the evening,” Abiama remembers his arrival. A football pitch in Nuremberg was supposed to be the starting point of a crazy journey.
“I was playing alone not far from my parents’ house when two boys saw me and asked if I had a club,” Abiama remembers: “Then they said that there was a club called Mögeldorf nearby and that I should take a look at it . “
Abiama: Skipped four leagues in three years
Abiama quickly gained a foothold in Mögeldorf, shooting the U19s in his first year with 29 goals in 21 games for the first time in the regional league and was immediately pulled up into the men’s team the following year. There a similar picture: 27 hits in 25 appearances and the promotion from the district class to the district league.
The young striker quickly aroused desires even in higher-class teams, but any inquiries were initially blocked in Mögeldorf. “I had no idea which teams play in which leagues,” says Abiama: “In Nigeria, I only knew Bayern, Dortmund, Leverkusen or Schalke.”
That was of secondary importance in the end, because Abiama jumped four leagues in three years. After advancing with the Mögeldorfer men, he moved past the district and district league in 2018 to SG Quelle Fürth in the state league. After just one year, Abiama moved to the Bayern League for SC Eltersdorf. There he snapped, among other things, in a test match against his current employer, before jumping to the 2nd Bundesliga a year later – this time without stopping in the regional and 3rd leagues.
In the winter of 2019/20 Abiama signed a three-year contract in Fürth, was a guest player in preparation for test matches and training camps and was supposed to play the second half of the season at Eltersdorf. Due to the corona-related termination of the amateur football season, however, there was no return.
Some time before, Abiama had tried the second representation of 1. FC Nürnberg and Jahn Regensburg – without success. And in Fürth, too, it was not initially intended for professionals. “At first it was about the second team,” said Abiama, looking back. But already after a training session “I was told that I should prove myself to the pros.”
Abiama straight out of the league’s best joker
With the Franks, Abiama wrote the next chapter of his own fairy tale. In the first round of the cup at RSV Meinerzhagen, Abiama scored twice in a 6-1 win, and in the derby against 1. FC Nürnberg, he equalized in the last second. At the end of the season there were seven goals and two assists in 29 league games.
Abiama scored six goals – including the one for promotion – after being substituted on, making him the best joker of the season.
He would never have dreamed of being a Bundesliga player after just four years in Germany. “I actually wanted to do a commercial apprenticeship,” says Abiama of his original plans.
Dickson Abiama: “Maybe one day we will win the World Cup”
Instead, Abiama is now playing against Bayern, Dortmund and Leverkusen – and all without a youth academy, which means he joins well-known names like Miroslav Klose or Jamie Vardy. As a reward for his premiere season, there was a new contract in the summer, which is dated until 2024.
He has long since mutated into a fan favorite. In the Fürth stadium, Abiama’s winning goal shoes hang next to numerous other historical achievements and as soon as the right foot steps onto the field, “Abiama the god of football” echoes through the Ronhofer Sportpark. “Personally, I don’t like it that much,” he admits: “It’s a bit strange when you sing my name. I feel a little uncomfortable.” Overall, the hustle and bustle around his person was a big change, especially in the media.
Despite his rapid rise, Abiama appears humble and grounded. The words “dream” and “unbelievable” are often used – but not as classic empty phrases. Will it go even steeper uphill in the future? “Even as a child I always wanted to win the World Cup,” he says, but adds with a laugh: “I can’t really imagine that it would really work.”
Fürth: First victory achieved – now at BVB
Until the time comes, Abiama wants to achieve his personal goals in the Bundesliga. “I feel a little pressure because I haven’t scored yet. As a striker, of course, you always want to score goals when you’re on the field,” he said: “I want to get as many minutes of play as possible – and above all to win.”
In the current Bundesliga season, Abiama has been on the pitch twelve times. He was part of the starting eleven five times, most recently three times in a row. The first win of the season (and the first home win in the Fürth Bundesliga history after 24 attempts) came last weekend against Union Berlin. A template is on the books, but Abiama is still waiting for his first hit in Germany’s first floor.
The next option is already on Wednesday evening. Then SpVgg will meet BVB in Dortmund’s Signal-Iduna-Park (8.30 p.m.) in LIVE-TICKER).
“Obviously, as a newcomer, it is a great feeling to be able to go to Dortmund – to the largest stadium in the league”, Abiama says modestly as usual: “Even if not all seats can be occupied, I am looking forward to playing there.”
A debut goal after the goal against Düsseldorf would be the next major highlight of his young but rapid career.