From the very start of his career, football was an emotional rollercoaster for Western Sydney Wanderers' German recruit Alex Baumjohann.
Growing up in the small town of Waltrop just 20 minutes north of Signal Iduna Park, a youthful Baumjohann indulged in a love affair with one of Germany’s most prestigious clubs - Borussia Dortmund.
He decked out his room in yellow and black, watched every match on TV and cried whenever BVB lost. Schalke was the enemy.
As he grew older, Baumjohann dreamt of playing for Borussia Dortmund, of kicking a ball in front of 80,000 of football’s most diehard supporters just twenty minutes down the road.
He soon turned 12 and was selected to play in a statewide tournament featuring some of Germany’s best young footballers - the chance had finally arrived for a young Borussia Dortmund fanatic to be recognised by his boyhood club.
But as it turned out, the football gods had other plans for Baumjohann.
"The tournament went well," Baumjohann told FTBL
"The scouts identified me as one of the best players and soon I had offers from nearly every Bundesliga club… except Borussia Dortmund.
"This upset me because in my town of Waltrop, everyone supported Borussia Dortmund, and I can honestly say I was one of the club’s biggest supporters at the time.
"I decided to join the club that showed the most interest in me - Schalke, which was Borussia Dortmund’s biggest rival.
"But then, just one day after I signed for Schalke, Borussia Dortmund called me. I broke down in tears but my mother insisted I honour my word and commit to playing for Schalke.
"Schalke is to Dortmund like Sydney FC is to Western Sydney, so it was difficult initially, but I soon found my love for Schalke, and started training with the first team when I turned 16, which is also when I signed my first professional contract."
Baumjohann went on to play for Schalke, before moving to fellow Bundesliga club Borussia Mönchengladbach in search of more playing time. Here, the nifty playmaker found his mojo, starring in the Bundesliga and forcing a move to the greatest club in the land, Bayern Munich.
But as Baumjohann learnt at Schalke, a starting position wasn’t something to take for granted in the Bundesliga, and after just three appearances for the European powerhouse, he was back at Schalke where it all began.
After a successful move that included a start against Manchester United in the 2011 Champions League semi final at Old Trafford, Baumjohann went on to feature for Kaiserslautern and Hertha Berlin before moving to Brazil.
Here, injuries and political deceit soured the German’s time in his wife’s native country, and when Wanderers came knocking, Baumjohann simply couldn’t say no.
"Brazil is not an easy to country to play in," he said.
"It’s very political and the president often makes the calls despite knowing very little about football. They often pander to the fans.
"After that experience I wanted to come to a club with good organisation and I think Australia is perfect for this. I had options to come home to Germany but wasn’t ready to do that yet.
"I also got an offer from Saudi Arabia, but I have a wife and two daughters so it would have been tough to go there with three girls.
"The offer was around three or four times more, it was really good money, but money isn’t the most important thing for me. I wanted to play in the A-League.
"I love football and I knew the A-League before I signed here from hearing about Del Piero signing with Sydney FC. When Thomas Broich was playing for Brisbane, people started to talk about the A-League in Germany.
"I also knew about the Wanderers winning the Asian Champions League just a year after being founded.
"I’ve had such bad luck in my last two years with injuries, but now I have a coach at Western Sydney who gives me confidence and I think I can be one of the key players in the league.
"I want to play on for four or five more years."
Baumjohann has featured in two FFA Cup matches for Wanderers, playing an influential role in 2-1 wins against Bonnyrigg and Melbourne City respectively.