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Hannes handles business: a player profile

Photo by Chris Young | The Signal

From a small rural town in the northern tip of Germany to one of America’s busiest cities, Hannes Burmeister’s transition has been nothing short of amazing.

Burmeister started playing soccer around the age of five, and eventually finished as a runner up in the U-19 soccer competition in Germany in 2013. After graduating from CJD Christophorrus Rostock Gymnasium in Rostock, Germany, Burmeister was heavily recruited by universities across the globe.

“Georgia State was one of the universities that contacted me quite late. I was already talking to other schools before. But I don’t know, as soon as GSU contacted me, I was just impressed by everything when I looked it up. From day one, when they contacted me, I knew I wanted to go here,” Burmeister said.

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Burmeister was instantly drawn to the location of the campus, plotted right in the center of Atlanta, one of the world’s busiest cities.

He enrolled at Georgia State in 2015 but had to sit out the first five games of the season while awaiting clearance from the NCAA. As soon as he able to hit the field, he made an immediate impact. The German native made the All-Sun Belt Conference First Team his freshman year, earning nine points in only 13 games played with four goals and an assist.

However, being so far from his homeland was tough for the 19-year-old and his family. Burmeister talked about the burden of adjusting to life 4,600 miles from home.

”It was tough, especially for my mom because I had never been that far before. But at the end of the day they knew that I had to do what’s best for me and I felt that I had to take this opportunity and this chance, so they always supported me, in everything, no matter how tough,” Burmeister said.

His family did have the chance to visit him once during his freshman year and watch an exhibition match during spring workouts, an experience that meant a lot to him.

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Before 2015, he had never before left Germany, and learning English proved to be a hurdle for him in the states.

“I give massive props to the guy because when he first came to the team he didn’t know a lot of English. That acted as a barrier for him socially, but he put himself out there and continued to improve his English and get along with the guys,” said former teammate Jad Elkhalil.

From the very beginning, Burmeister realized that everything was going to be very different from what he was accustomed to back home.

“I was struggling with the language a little bit. I often didn’t really know what was going on. And I’ve never been in such a big city. Right when they picked me up from the airport I was just impressed by the size of everything. In terms of the people, the mentality was also different. Everyone was really open-minded and came forward trying to help me out and support me, so that was quite different,” Burmeister said.

Bentwisch, Germany is a small industrial town and is within one of the least densely populated states in Germany, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The entire city has about 3,000 inhabitants. Compare that to Georgia State, which has a student population of over 51,000.

By his sophomore year, Burmeister had become more adjusted to the language and began to emerge as a superstar. In his second season as a Panther he played in 19 of 20 matches and scored 11 goals, the highest on the team and in the conference. He also won awards for both the Sun Belt player and offensive player of the year. He became the first Georgia State player in history to score multiple hat tricks in a single season.

After stating that his sophomore season was probably his favorite, Burmeister added that he wasn’t “totally satisfied with any season” in his career so far. Georgia State has made it to the conference finals every year for the past three seasons, and they’ve lost all three matches.

Head coach Brett Surrency believes the experience of his older players combined with the energy from the younger guys may deliver different results this year.

“This team is unique. We’ve never had a team with so many influential returners back and this big of a freshman class. The freshmen bring your youthful exuberance and returners bring some of that experience, and our challenge is to try and blend the two together and get the best version of us,” Surrency said.

Coach Surrency also went on to comment on his senior midfielder.

“The last three years he’s been a big time goal scorer for us,” Surrency said. “He goes about it a little bit differently. He’s not a big strong vocal type player, he just goes out there and does his job. But, when he’s confident and believing in himself, he’s tough to stop,” Surrency said.

Burmeister displays selflessness and what it means to be a true team player. His goals for this season are simply to win the Sun Belt Championship Tournament and help his team be successful in whatever ways he can.

“We definitely want to make it to nationals this year. We are good enough as a team, and we all know it. We just have to prove it, finally. And for me personally, it’s my last season here so I’m trying to do everything I can to achieve that with the team and do my part, whatever my part is. If I score goals, I’ll be happy if I can help the team with that. Or, if I don’t score goals but we still make it I’ll be just as happy with that too,” said Burmeister.

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