Kaiserslautern romped to a 3-1 away win as they opened their Bundesliga season against FC Koln on Saturday. Just two years earlier, the club narrowly escaped relegation to Germany’s third division after a horrendous start to the 2007-2008 season, where the club managed just three victories in nineteen league matches. In the summer of 2008, Kaiserslautern reshuffled their squad and brought in a fair amount of reinforcements, many of whom have followed the club into the Bundesliga. Of the players brought in, none were more instrumental in Kaiserslautern’s promotion to Germany’s top flight and Kaiserslautern’s continued success than Croatian striker Srdjan Lakic.
Lakic’s Bundesliga career began in 2006 with Hertha Berlin. Lakic joined the club after impressive spells with Croatian sides Hrvatski Dragovoljac and Kamen Ingrad, where he made his name as a powerful striker who was both a clinical finisher and an impressive target-man. Unfortunately for Lakic, he failed to break into Hertha’s first-team and made a total of 12 league appearances during his two year spell at the club. Hertha sent the Croatian out on loan to Heracles in the Eredivisie, where he once again found his goalscoring form. Hertha Berlin decided the player was surplus to requirements and he was transfer-listed by the end of the 2008 season. Kaiserslautern pounced on the promising striker that summer and the acquisition has certainly paid off for them.
Lakic joined the club in the summer of 2008 after a crisis that nearly led to their relegation into Germany’s third division. With Lakic’s acquisition, the club’s fortunes rapidly turned. In his first season, the Croatian hitman banged in twelve goals as well as laying three more on for his team-mates. While Kaiserslautern missed out on promotion that season, they improved once again that summer and Lakic became a leader within the team. That season, while he played more of a peripheral role, he still managed seven league goals and a solitary assist in seven league starts. Kaiserslautern clinched promotion at the end of the 2009-2010 season, and Lakic’s place in the side could have been under threat as experienced, first division players were acquired by the club to maintain top flight status.
Lakic didn’t let it get to him. After an impressive pre-season, he was placed in the first eleven for Kaiserslautern’s opener against FC Koln, a team who boast a formidable lineup that includes Germany international Lukas Podolski, as well as Portuguese international Petit amongst others. Lakic didn’t let the occasion get to him, and repaid his manager’s faith in him in full. A wonderful brace saw Koln beaten and Kaiserslautern victorious in what will be a vital three points in their fight for survival this season. Lakic will go down as a Kaiserslautern cult hero, and the Croatian’s contributions should be praised.
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