Kenneth Kronholm: Holstein Kiel’s Real American Hero
Ahead of Kiel’s must-win showdown with Wolfsburg in Monday’s relegation play-off second leg, bundesliga.com chronicles a football odyssey that could quite easily have been penned by Homer himself…
Watch: The promotion/ relegation play-off explained
The tale begins in 2005. Fort Belvoir-born Kronholm is playing for the Wolfsburg reserve team, when he is deemed surplus to requirements; the prospect of rubbing shoulders with the Bundesliga’s best slipping through his fingers faster than a rain-soaked ball on a stormy winter’s day.
Enter the nomad years…
Kronholm goes on to represent, among others, Fortuna Düsseldorf, FSV Frankfurt, Hansa Rostock, Eintracht Trier, Waldhof Mannheim and Jahn Regensburg, albeit not one spell lasting longer than a single season.
He even agrees terms with English club Barnsley City at one point, before the Tykes pull the plug in favour of a move for Heinz Müller, latterly of Mainz fame.
Was he jinxed? An unsuccessful two-month trial with the Seattle Sounders does little to shake that theory.
On the verge of career flat line, Kronholm joins Kiel in July 2014 – on the surface, a move in keeping with a footslog that had already taken in spells at 11 different clubs.
Summer 2015 comes and goes, but Kronholm – after Kiel missed out on promotion to the second tier via the play-offs – sticks around.
Another year goes by, and Kronholm is still there.
By the end of 2016/17, Kiel are celebrating a place in Bundesliga 2 – and still no movement between the posts.
In 2017/18, Kronholm sits out one game as Kiel enjoy a storming debut season in Bundesliga 2, one that could yet end in a maiden promotion to the Bundesliga.
Take that, Wolfsburg! And take that, Auntie Kronholm!
That’s right – King Kenny’s aunt was not happy with her nephew’s choice of sport. She wanted him to play handball, just as his maternal grandfather had done so successfully, representing the Germany national team, in the 1960s. And for a while she succeeded.
It wasn’t until Kronholm was 14 that he was finally able to pursue his true passion, donning the gloves for SG Oftersheim.
At least he can say it runs in the hands…