It takes a goalkeeper with nerves of steel to block out over 4,000 Union Berlin Ultras within touching distance.
It takes composure, skill, and commitment to be the only goalkeeper in the Bundesliga to save three penalties in 2023.
It took a man from Essex* to (repeatedly) silence one of the best atmospheres in European football.
Yesterday, Finn Dahmen did just that.
With another full-stretched penalty save from Union’s Robin Knoche to add to Dahmen’s growing collection, a further five saves from open play, and a Man of the Match performance, Dahmen was formidable in the Augsburg goal for 88 minutes.
Unsurprisingly, Dahmen received another team of the week accolade for a faultless display, his second of the season.
That is no mean feat in a league comprising many of his sporting idols, such as Manuel Neuer and Oliver Baumann,
In an interview a few years ago, Dahmen named goalkeepers such as Marc-André ter Stegen from FC Barcelona or Manuel Neuer from Bayern Munich as his sporting idols. Now they are his peers.
Dahmen has the fourth-highest number of saves (45) in the Bundesliga so far this season and is enjoying the longest run of appearances in his career (12) since signing from 1. FSV Mainz 05.
It is Dahmen’s break-out season and if these performances continue, he will be turning heads in Germany and England.
Dahmen was born in Wiesbaden, central Western Germany to an English mum* and spent much of his childhood moving between Germany and England.
He has appeared at every level of Junior international football for Germany since u15, however, full caps may be limited behind Neuer, Kevin Trapp, Janis Blaswich and Oliver Baumann.
Finn Dahmen’s best opportunity for international football may be with England.
Considering recent club fates and error-strewn performances by Jordan Pickford, Sam Johnstone, and Aaron Ramsdale, it would be naive to disregard Dahmen out of hand.
At 6 foot 1 inch, the 25-year-old goalkeeper makes up for his size with pace and precision.
Against Union Berlin, he demonstrated his athleticism in the air with some acrobatic saves, showed good footwork with more than 30 accurate passes, and good decision-making to come off his line and snuff numerous one-on-ones.
It was an indication of why Augsburg are unbeaten in five league games and one of the in-form teams across Europe.
It defies logic that Dahmen and Augsburg are yet to keep a clean sheet this season through no fault of the Goalkeeper. However, in his suburban London accent, Dahmen knows there is a lot more work to do. His career is just kick-starting.
Continuing to develop
Dahmen made a crucial penalty save on the hour mark from Robin Knoche, low to his right and seemed impenetrable in the Augsburg goal as Union dominated the second half. Whilst Dahmen was understandably frustrated by conceding late on, he was upbeat about his recent performances and development in an exclusive interview after the game:
“It’s such a cool stadium here, it’s never easy but always special. We always prepare but I knew we had to be ready for today. Together with my goalkeeping coach, we looked at some videos [of Union Berlin penalties] this morning, on the pitch I had the feeling I should go to my right and I’m happy that it worked. It shows it’s important to prepare. It shows what I can do and everyone what I can do.
“As long as we win, and we draw, it’s ok but obviously as a goalkeeper, you want a clean sheet but we were close to managing it today. Of course, the frustration is there but we will try our best to manage it next week. It will come. I will continue to get better.”
In the interview, Dahmen was grounded and friendly, keen to express his gratitude for playing regular football. Anything beyond maintaining performances for Augsburg had not seemed to occur to the down-to-earth Goalkeeper:
“First, it’s about the team, then it’s about what you can do to support them. At the moment it’s just nice to be playing. I need to keep performing and we will see what we can do. I can’t think beyond that, it’s my focus, my only focus.
“It’s been good at Augsburg so far. I don’t take that for granted. I came here to play and I’ve taken that opportunity. I’m living my dream. The first weeks were difficult to adjust to with the new set-up, and manager, but since then we’ve been doing really well and hoping we can carry on, hoping I can carry on just enjoying playing football regularly.”
With Augsburg sitting in the top ten after avoiding relegation by one point last season, Dahmen is aware of the challenges that lie ahead for his side. However, he expressed that the squad are well-placed to do better than last season and won’t rest on their laurels after a strong start:
“It’s a positive atmosphere here, we are playing together, for one another and the league is the focus. It’s good to be on the pitch. We feel like we can beat anyone at home.
“I think we shouldn’t look too much at our position in the league at the moment, especially now, it’s just get as many points as possible, then we see where we can finish in the season. If we can manage to relax near the end of the season, we will be happy. Until then, anything is possible.”
Based on individual performances so far this season, anything really is possible for Dahmen.
He may currently be “living my dream” but he may need to start dreaming bigger.
International football is not beyond his abilities and well within his reach.
GGFN | Oscar O’Mara