IN PROFILE: Lukas Rupp - The handball player’s son ready to make his mark at Norwich City
PUBLISHED: 17:54 13 January 2020 | UPDATED: 18:06 13 January 2020
JASON DAWSON ©Jason Dawson
With midfielder Lukas Rupp joining Norwich City from 1899 Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga, our Canaries correspondent Connor Southwell takes a look back at his career.
1) The handball player's son
Sport has always played a significant part in new Norwich City recruit Lukas Rupp's life. Football may be the industry where the 29-year-old has thrived, but it was handball where he was first introduced to competition, courtesy of his father.
Franz Rupp, a teacher by profession but also a full-time handball player, attempted to encourage his son to participate in his favoured sport, but Rupp's interest in football spiked after his family moved to the German town of Grosssachsen, which is located an hour away from Frankfurt, where his mother registered him to play football for the local team.
"My father gave me the opportunity to do what I want to do. Of course, he first tried handball, but was not angry when I decided to play football. The fact that my middle brother played handball certainly calmed him down.
"Sport has always played a major role in our family. Since my brother Hendrik plays handball, my father didn't hold it against me," Rupp told Goal.com in 2017.
"I was at games every weekend. Today I try to watch games from Leutershausen every now and then. Of course, this rarely works because we also play on weekends. But if I can, I'll be in the hall. I also have a season ticket. If I go, it will be with my father. Just like before."
2) Playing with Mario Vrancic
Rupp will walk into Colney and recognise a familiar face in City midfielder Mario Vrancic, with the pair reunited in Norfolk after playing together at Paderborn. The German was often deployed alongside Vrancic in the Bundesliga during the 2014/15.
His versatility meant Rupp struggled to nail down a favoured position, with Vrancic shifting between playing as a deep-lying playmaker and an attacking midfielder. Rupp was more profitable in terms of his offensive output, scoring on four occasions that season. His first goal for Paderborn during that campaign arrived as Rupp helped André Breitenreiter's men come from behind to draw 2-2 with Jurgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund.
Rupp proved a crucial figure as Paderborn fought against the drop; he came off the bench to score twice in a crucial relegation battle against SC Freiburg, as Paderborn came back to win 2-1 in only their third away win of the campaign.
Vrancic impressed enough to gain a move back to the Bundesliga with Darmstadt, where he impressed again before eventually linking up with Daniel Farke at City back in 2017. Ellias Kachunga, recruited by Stuart Webber at Huddersfield Town where he became a key component of their promotion-winning team, was also a member of that Paderborn side.
Rupp could have joined the Bosnian at Darmstadt and was a man in demand following Paderborn's relegation to 2. Bundesliga. Instead, he joined Stuttgart, where he featured 29 times, scoring on five occasions before signing for Hoffenheim in 2016.
3) Dreaming of England
Playing in England has been a long-held ambition of Rupp's, with his versatility cited as a reason why he may suit the rigours of the Premier League. The midfielder has spent the entirety of his career in his native country but, when quizzed, did disclose his admiration for English football.
Speaking back in 2017, Rupp said: "I can definitely imagine that [playing abroad] someday. The Spanish and English leagues are both very interesting. But of course, I will fulfil my contract here.
"The bigger problem is the weather! This is why Spain could be the better alternative. Seriously: You will see what time will bring - hopefully the Champions League again, the best teams play there and you will experience moments that you will never forget."
His time at Hoffenheim was hampered with injury, after an ACL injury ruled him out of the entirety of the 2018/19 season. His contract with Hoffenheim was due to expire at the end of the current season, with Rupp having only played seven games.
When asked about his situation in November 2019, Rupp reiterated his desire to play in England: "I could very well imagine going abroad as a station because I have never played there before. Spain or England would be attractive addresses."
4) Learning under Nagelsmann
Julian Nagelsmann is the latest coach enjoying success in the Bundesliga. Currently, he is seeking to disrupt the Bayern Munich hegemony and win the title with Red Bull Leipzig. Prior to joining Leipzig, the 32-year-old was at the helm of Hoffenheim.
Nagelsmann brought Rupp to Hoffenheim back in 2016, making the German one of his first signings in charge. Rupp played 42 times in all competitions under Nagelsmann's management and was used predominantly as a central midfielder. Rupp spent a large portion of his spell at Hoffenheim sidelined with various injuries, and struggled to regain his place in the side following Nagelsmann's departure.
The coach made a profound impact on Rupp, who speaks glowingly about his former boss: "He ticks like us players and is younger than some of us. At the same time, he is extremely tactically savvy. He always has a plan that works most of the time. On the one hand, he is very relaxed and plays along during training.
"On the other hand, he is very clear in his speeches. It is impressive how he manages to appear in everyday life like us players, and to act as clearly as a coach," Rupp said.
"The training was more complex. Getting started with the tactical instructions was a real challenge. A lot of different colours were used. So, it was not so exhausting for the legs, but for the head. It was definitely a bit different than I knew from my previous coaches."
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