With 25 goals in all competitions this season, including three hat-tricks in his last seven Bundesliga games, forward Philipp Hosiner has helped FK Austria Wien surge clear at the top of the Austrian table.
The one-time TSV 1860 München trainee has worked his way up since leaving Germany, scoring regularly for First Vienna FC and then FC Admira Wacker Mödling before hitting some kind of critical mass this term. By the time he quit Admira for Austria Wien in August he had scored nine on all fronts, and he has now racked up 20 in the Bundesliga – three short of FC Barcelona record-breaker Lionel Messi's top-flight total for the campaign.
Coach Peter Stöger can only marvel at how well his new signing has settled in, while Hosiner – who counts Thierry Henry as his footballing role model – can reflect on how well he recovered from being released by 1860 in 2010. "It has come very quickly," the 23-year-old said. "I always believed in my ability, and my playing style has been perfect for these clubs: Admira, now Austria."
Hosiner's predatory instincts have thrived in Austria's 4-3-3 system, with Stöger encouraging him to burst from deep and make trouble. Already, he is being tipped to break Hans Krankl's record of 41 league goals from the 1977/78 season. Hosiner, however, has no time for statistics. "That's just how it goes whenever someone scores a lot of goals," said the Burgenland-born player. "All sorts of figures get dug up."
Talk of records and moves elsewhere have been routinely dismissed. "I am not interested in transfer rumours," Hosiner said. "I have a long-term contract with Austria Wien and am enjoying my football here." Even so, the ears of coaches and club presidents the world over will have pricked up when they heard that the striker places such a high value on quiet nights in. "I go to bed before midnight and always need my eight hours' sleep," he said.
Perhaps surprisingly, his exploits have yet to get Hosiner a regular place in Austria's national side. Having made his debut in 2011, he remains on the margins of the selection, with coach Marcel Koller choosing Andreas Weimann ahead of him for the recent friendly against Ivory Coast, though he said: "Hosiner has improved in the last six months. He's heading in the right direction. If he continues to play consistently, he will get his chance."
"If the coach needs me, I'll be available, but if not, I'm not going to storm off in a huff," sighed Hosiner, whose enduring ambition is to prove himself in a bigger league – ideally back in Germany, where he first went with 1860 as a 17-year-old. "Of course, my goal is to play abroad again," he said. "The German Bundesliga I see as the first stage. England is a dream, but I would say my playing style suits the German Bundesliga."
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