Christopher Trimmel from Union Berlin: The precision of the tattoo artist


It all started when Christopher Trimmel was asked by his tattoo artist to stab him a cartoon penguin. Trimmel was 20 years old at the time. He lived in Burgenland, played soccer in the fourth Austrian league, and an art academy had just turned him down. He actually wanted to become an art teacher. He had never tattooed himself before.
13 years later, Christopher Trimmel is one of the most unusual professionals in the Bundesliga. In a sense, he leads a double life. Most of the week he earns his living as a right-back at 1. FC Union Berlin. In the rest of the time he designs his own motifs, plans orders, and has to deal with hygiene standards that are a prerequisite in his industry. Trimmel has had a trade license as a mobile tattoo artist for a year and a half.

Before Corona, the 33-year-old drove home to see customers. Mostly on Mondays and Tuesdays he stuck self-designed pictures under other people’s skin, on weekends he played in the Bundesliga. Even if at the moment only designing and organizing are possible, things should continue after Corona with the tattoo studio on wheels. “For me, tattooing is a huge passion, just as big as football. I just have to keep doing it and I can bring that into line with the club, ”said Trimmel in an interview with SPIEGEL.

Trimmel’s body is covered with tattoos. A large, crowned eagle, Austria’s heraldic animal, is emblazoned on its chest, its back and both arms are decorated with flowers, tentacles and faces of children. For him, these pictures are works of art by other tattooists.  The y should be displayed on his body. And there are now people out there who have real trimmings on their skin: teammates at Union have also had tattoos.

Trimmel’s story is extraordinary, and it ties in well with that of his main employer. Because last year’s climber Union is the eye-catcher of the current season.

© The  club from the Berlin district of Köpenick has developed into a European Cup contender in its second first division season. Union is fifth with 25 points and has not yet lost a single game against a team from the top half of the table. And if the next win in the game against Bayer Leverkusen is to succeed in the evening (8.30 p.m. / live ticker, stream: DAZN), Union will even move to a Champions League spot overnight.

That urge for accuracy

That upswing has nothing to do with Christopher Trimmel. But you can tell how Union has blossomed within a year and a half from a team with a simple game idea to a surprise team that has the second best offensive in the league after Bayern (31 goals). Because Trimmel is the best standard shooter in the league full-time – and in European elite football. According to the statistics provider Opta, Trimmel has prepared eleven hits from dormant balls since the rise of Unions in summer 2019. This is not only the top figure in the Bundesliga, but Trimmel is also far ahead in all five European top leagues. In second and third place are Maximilian Arnold from VfL Wolfsburg (eight) and Trent-Alexander Arnold from English champions FC Liverpool (six) as well as a few other players with six assists.

© The  basis for his standard strength is in some ways the same that predestines him for tattooing, Trimmel believes: the urge to be precise and the discipline to practice it. “You can see every mistake in tattooing. Here, too, it’s about precision, ”he says. Trimmel trains corners and free kicks two to three times a week to hit his standards in the game with pinpoint accuracy. He then often places plastic men as a wall on the lawn with a small ice hockey goal behind it. “Out of ten attempts, nine exactly have to end up in the network,” says Trimmel.
Standards are essential in modern football. In the current Bundesliga season, 30.4 percent of all hits came after the ball was inactive (in England and Spain it is similar). Due to this importance, the approach behavior of one’s own players is precisely planned and the behavior of the opponent is analyzed. Is the other team defending against the man or in the room? Does the goalkeeper come out aggressively to intercept the ball, or does a nifty step forward block him?

All of this can be planned. But if the free kick is kicked back just a few nuances, all the preparation is wasted. “© The n the other players have to react when starting up. That reduces the chance of a goal because they no longer have the perfect timing, ”says Trimmel. “My job is for my colleagues to know: if the Trimmi raises his arm, the ball will be exactly where it should go in five seconds.”

In the first season after promotion, Union was particularly dependent on standards. Half of all their own hits were scored in this way (20 out of a total of 41). That was also due to striker Sebastian Andersson, one of the best header players in the league. But now the Swede has switched to 1. FC Köln – and Union has emancipated itself from the style of high balls.

A third of all Union goals fall according to standards

This season, standards are still important for the Köpenicker: According to Opta, only Leverkusen (13) has scored more hits after corners, free kicks or penalties than Union (twelve). With defender Marvin Friedrich, the player with the most header hits is also in the squad (next to Robert Lewandowski, both four hits). But the goals after resting balls only make up a little more than a third of all own hits (31).

On the one hand, this is due to the currently injured, new star player Max Kruse, who, unlike Anderssson, does not want the passes on the head, but in the foot. But it also has to do with a fundamental reorientation towards the combination game and the fast switching: With Sheraldo Becker Union has one of the fastest players in the league (35.27 km / h top speed), with the Liverpool loan from Taiwo Awoniyi a sleek, Dangerous attacker who has been directly involved in five goals in the past six games. “We have developed extremely through play,” says Trimmel.

© The  statistics platform understat collects the so-called »expected goals« of a team. It is used to determine how likely it is to score a goal after attempting a certain point on the field. And on the basis of this it is calculated how many goals a team should have according to the probability: Union stands at 21.83 »expected goals«, but has actually scored nine more goals. This could tempt you to book Union success as luck. But the impression is wrong. Because with the “expected goals against”, ie the likely goals against, the Berliners conceded more than would actually have been likely.

Based on the probable goals and conceded goals, the »expected points« are calculated, and Union stands at 24.75. In fact, the 25th Union in Berlin is as good as the club is currently in the table. “It feels as if we are absolutely deservedly up there, even if nobody starts dreaming with us,” says Trimmel.

Incidentally, after his very first own tattooing experience at the age of 20, he switched to the second team at Rapid Vienna, initially just to finance his studies (teaching degree in sports and geography). But he quickly got promoted to the first team, scored the second fastest hat trick in Austrian Bundesliga history as a striker and was then retrained as a right-back. Without ever having been to a youth training center, he switched to Union in 2014 and says: “© The  club has grown a little bit from year to year – and I’ve actually grown a little every year.”

Christopher Trimmel will be 34 years old in February. His football career is on the home stretch. His double life will end soon and he will then only be a tattoo artist. After the cartoon penguin was stung, he knew that one day he would be a tattoo artist, says Trimmel. He emphasizes that: not that he wants to be, but that he will be. His plans were precise even then.
Icon: © The  mirror

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Christopher Trimmel Union Berlin precision tattoo artist


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