Bundesliga side Union Berlin pulled off a transfer coup on Friday by recruiting former Germany striker Max Kruse, an accomplished poker player and singer, on a free transfer.
Having quit Turkish side Fenerbahce in June, Kruse, who has scored 74 goals in 250 Bundesliga appearances, has returned to Germany, where he had spells at Werder Bremen, Freiburg, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Wolfsburg and St Pauli.
The 32-year-old is a colourful character off the pitch having finished third in the 2014 World Series of Poker and appeared on the Turkish version of talent show “The Voice” last December singing a cover of the Dean Martin hit “Sway”.
Kruse made the last of his 14 appearances for Germany in late 2015 when he scored in a Euro 2016 qualifier victory against Georgia.
He was dropped by Germany in March 2016 after an argument with a journalist at a Berlin nightclub while celebrating his 28th birthday, days after making headlines for leaving 75,000 euros ($88,000) in cash in a taxi.
“I’m not here for the nightlife in Berlin or anything. I’m here to play football,” Kruse insisted Friday.
Having turned down a return to Werder Bremen, Kruse said he was looking to joining Union who have already signed goalkeeper Andreas Luthe from Augsburg and defender Robin Knoche from Wolfsburg.
“I’m happy to be playing in the Bundesliga again and to get to know a cool new club like Union, who have developed really well in recent years,” he said after Union finished their first Bundesliga season 11th in 2019/20.
“It was important for me to switch to a club that completely convinces and challenges me.
“During the conversations with those responsible, I felt immediately comfortable, that’s why I decided to join Union.”
He will compete with Nigeria international Anthony Ujah and Sweden’s Sebastian Andersson for the forwards positions.