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Home is where Hofmann's heart is

Having married an SK Rapid Wien supporter and won the hearts of fans in the Austrian capital, the club's German captain Steffen Hofmann has no regrets at not making the grade in his homeland.

Steffen Hofmann is a fans' favourite at Rapid
Steffen Hofmann is a fans' favourite at Rapid ©Getty Images

Captain Steffen Hofmann has called on SK Rapid Wien to recapture the form that saw them beat Hamburger SV on Matchday 1 as they travel to the German side looking to make up lost ground in UEFA Europa League Group C.

Proven pedigree
Hofmann led the charge on 19 September with the opening goal in a 3-0 rout of HSV at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion, but since then Rapid's progress has slowed, with Peter Pacult's side picking up just one point from their subsequent three games. That run has left Rapid three points adrift of second-placed HSV and former Germany youth international Hofmann knows there is no margin for error on Wednesday. "Hamburg are in a much more comfortable situation than us, but if we can play like we did last time against them we have a good chance of winning here as well," he said. "They have a lot of very good players, but we've already proved we can beat them."

Bayern disappointment
On a personal level it is another chance for Hofmann to showcase his talent in his homeland, having twice failed to make the grade in Germany. The 29-year-old came through the youth ranks at FC Bayern München, and though he represented Germany at youth levels, he never broke through with the Bavarian side. His only Bundesliga appearance came as a 90th-minute substitute against 1. FC Köln in October 2001. The following year he joined Rapid and has seldom looked back since.

Family ties
His fine touch and eye for a pass quickly made him a firm favourite and after being named Austria's Player of the Year in 2004, he helped Rapid claim the title in 2005. Hofmann's fine form even earned a return to Germany with TSV 1860 München. Once again, though, he struggled to make an impact and jumped at the chance to rejoin Rapid when the call came six months later. Having made himself at home with Rapid, winning the Player of the Year award and the title again in 2008, Hofmann is no hurry to try and prove himself again elsewhere. "The future will show if I make the jump to another league or not, but I'm very happy at Rapid," he said. "I'm respected here. My family plays a part in that as my wife is from Vienna and has always been a Rapid fan."

HSV injury problems
So strong are Hofmann's ties with his adopted homeland that a call up to the Austrian national side was mooted not long ago. The only international stage that matters to him now, though, is the UEFA Europa League and victory at an injury-hit Hamburg. "We've had some strong performances in the Europa League," Hofmann said. "We can win in Hamburg, but we can also come home with a big defeat." Coach Pacult is relying on the likes of Hofmann to make sure it is the former. "It will be very close, but we're capable of scoring in every game and if we score we could win," he said.