Lutz Pfannenstiel; The Ultimate Journeyman

GuidoAnalyst IOctober 9, 2008

The word “journeyman” comes from the French word “journée”, meaning the period of one day; this refers to their right to charge a fee for each day's work. They would normally be employed by a master craftsman, but would live apart and might have a family of their own. A journeyman could not employ others.

In contrast, an apprentice would be bound to a master, usually for a fixed term of seven years, and lived with the master as a member of the household, receiving most or all of their compensation in terms of room and board.

In parts of Europe, as in later medieval Germany, spending time as a journeyman (Geselle), moving from one town to another to gain experience of different workshops, was an important part of the training of an aspirant master. Carpenters in Germany have retained the tradition of traveling journeymen until today, although only a small minority still practice it.

This journeyman-story is about a German as well. A former U17 international and FC Bayern youth academy goalie with the illustrious name Lutz Pfannenstiel. Now why is Lutz the ultimate journey-man? Because he’s the first and so far only football player that has played for a club in all six major continents (excluding Antarctica).

When you follow his career, it becomes obvious that Lutz’ way of planning his career is to simply accept any offer he gets. This makes his curriculum vitae look like some drunkard has been throwing darts arrows at a world map.

Lutz Pfannenstiel goes global. 

Let’s have a closer look. In Europe alone, Lutz has played in seven nations for twelve clubs. He has played for three German clubs (1. FC Bad Kötzting, SV Wacker Burghausen, ASV Cham), three English clubs (Wimbledon, Nottingham Forest, Bradford Park Avenue), two Norwegian clubs (Bærum SK, Flekkerøy IL), one Belgian club (Sint Truiden), one Maltese club (Hamrun Spartans), one Finnish club (TPV) and one Albanian club (Vllaznia Shkodër).

In Africa, Pfannenstiel defended the colours of South Africa’s Orlando Pirates. In Asia, Singapore’s Geylang United and Malaysia’s Penang Panthers have signed Pfannenstiel in the past. In North America, he played for Canada’s Calgary Mustangs. In South America, he played for Clube Atlético Hermann Aichinger from Brazil. Last but not least, he played in Oceania for Otago United and Dunedin Technical from New Zealand.

Along the way, Lutz led an adventurous life. In Singapore, he was accused of fixing matches for the Asian gambling maffia. He spent three months in jail, despite never being found guilty by a judge or jury. Lutz passed lie-detector tests and was eventually released from prison, having lost sixteen kilo’s in prison and several tens of thousands of dollars, because of the costs of legal aid.

In Tehran, Lutz played for a 100,000 crazed Iranians in the Asian Champions League with Geylang United. According to Lutz, it was like playing football “in front of the gates of hell itsself.”

He stopped breathing three times after a collision while playing for Bradford Park Avenue against Harrogate Town in a UniBond League match on 26 December 2002. The injury was so serious that the referee, John Moss, abandoned the match. Bradford Park Avenue were leading 2–1 at the time of the incident.

All in all, Lutz has been the ultimate opportunist. He has taken every opportunity that came across his path and he’s had the sort of career most people can only dream about. Now this wonderful career started because he refused to play in the Bayern München reserves and opted for a switch to Malaysia instead.

In a way, his career reads like a sort of insane movie-script, with wonderous events taking place and unrealistic transfers taking place every year. In fact, rumours have it that a film about Lutz’ career is bound to appear within the next two years.

Fact or fiction, Lutz is an example to average footballers world-wide who have dreamt about playing professional football some day. Instead of waiting for something to happen, Lutz has taken a gamble and went out to do the job he loves doing.

This job has taken him to pretty much every corner of the world, and it has given him some serious troubles (like dying on the pitch...), but you have to respect what the man has been doing the past two decades.