One Cap Wonders No. 5: Marvin Compper

Berlin, 19th November 2008

A year after beating England 2-1 at the new Wembley stadium courtesy of a stunning strike from debutant Christian Pander, the two teams would line up for a return match in Berlin’s Olympiastadion. Among those in the German starting eleven would be a twenty-three year old from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, Marvin Compper.

Hoffenheim would be flavour of the month at the time in the Bundesliga. A small team from a small suburb of Sinsheim in Baden-Württemberg funded by the computer software magnate Dietmar Hopp, TSG 1899 had made their way up the rungs of the German league – making their way up from the Regionalliga Süd to the 1. Bundesliga in successive seasons. Their first season in the top flight would see them get off to a staggering start, and on 19th November 2008 Ralf Rangnick’s side would be joint top of the league with Bayer 04 Leverkusen having won nine out of thirteen matches.

Among the young stars in Rangnick’s squad would be the Tübingen-born Compper, who also would be qualified to play for France on account of his Guadeloupe-born father. A solid, 6’1″ defender with three international appearances at Under-20 level, Compper would be one of many Hoffenheimers to impress not only Bundesliga-watchers but also Nationaltrainer Jogi Löw, who would name the twenty-three year old in his squad for the friendly in Berlin along with club team mate Tobias Weis.

When the teams lined up at the Olympiastadion Weis would miss out, making Compper the first man from the hitherto unknown club from Sinsheim to play at senior level for the national side. Wearing the number sixteen shirt usually reserved for Philipp Lahm, the young defender would be stationed at left-back – and would be tasked with dealing with England’s speedy winger Shawn Wright-Phillips.

Marvin Compper takes on England’s Wayne Bridge in Berlin, not knowing his first international appearance would also be his last

The German defence would be given a severe test by Fabio Capello’s side, and Compper would be one of those who would fall under the microscope. England’s opening goal however would be gifted to them by ‘keeper René Adler, whose weak flap at a Stewart Downing corner would allow centre-back Matthew Upson to head into the empty net.

Compper would not play particularly poorly, but would share collective responsibility as part of a new-look back four that would look badly short of pace and at times short of ideas. The Nationalelf would level the scores through Patrick Helmes after a defensive mix up on the other side involving England skipper John Terry and ‘keeper Scott Carson, but the visitors would deservedly head back across the North Sea with the win when Terry would atone for his earlier error. By this time, Compper would be on the bench, having been replaced after seventy-seven minutes by fellow debutant Marcel Schäfer.

Hoffenheim would finish the first half of the season as Herbstmeister and eventually finish in a creditable seventh place, but Marvin Compper would not feature again in Jogi Löw’s plans. Two more fairly mid-table would follow, but with the club struggling at the fringes of the relegation zone at the beginning of 2013 Compper would be dropped to the second team for what would be described as a lack of motivation.

Languishing in the depths of the Regionalliga Südwest with TSG 1899’s amateur side, Compper’s outing in the Nationaltrikot back in 2008 would be but a distant memory. However in what would be a lucky break he would be signed by Italian side AC Fiorentina, making his debut against AC Chievo in March.

Marvin Compper has not featured in Joachim Löw’s thoughts for a number of years and it is highly unlikely that we will see him in the Schwarz und Weiß again. However with a contract running until 2016 for a new club in the Italian league and still only twenty-seven years old, there may still be a glimmer of faint hope that he may not end his footballing career as another one of the Nationalmannschaft’s One Cap Wonders.

One Cap Wonders No. 5: Marvin Compper
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