Kilian Schröcker started kicking a football about with his friends aged six and developed a passion for the sport relatively quickly. It soon became apparent at his first club, TuS Admont, that he had good reflexes and he was unsurprisingly pulling on the goalie gloves by the time he had reached U10 level.
After two years at WSV Liezen and another year in the SK Sturm Graz youth set-up, he moved to the Red Bull Academy in 2015. It was there that the legendary former player turned coach, Alexander Zickler, took him under his wing. The 20-year-old was included in the FC Liefering squad for the first time in May 2019, and his second-division debut followed in a clash with SV Lafnitz in March 2020.
“It generally doesn’t matter how much talent you have, at some point you’ll fall short if you don’t work hard on a daily basis,” said the Styrian, reflecting on his time at the Red Bull Academy. “But I never saw it as a burden to have to combine training and school. It was always clear to me I wanted to become a footballer; there was no alternative in my mind. That’s why I tried to do my best in all areas every day.”
The young goalkeeper looks back on his debut and subsequent second-tier appearances for FC Liefering as highlights of his youth career, but has even fonder memories of winning the tradition-steeped Cordial Cup in 2016 with the U15s, who beat Grasshopper Zürich in front of several thousand spectators – some in the stadium, others live-streaming the match from home – in Kitzbühel. For Schröcker, who became a champion multiple times in various ÖFB youth categories, saying farewell to FC Liefering was rather easy. “The end of one chapter is also the start of another. The decision to play for FC Pinzgau Saalfelden was certainly not difficult. I really wanted more playing time and saw the chance to get it here. The environment here is also a great fit, as the work here is extremely professional by Regionalliga standards. I think this is the best option to continue my development. From that point of view, this is the perfect place for me at the moment.”
The statistics confirm that it was the correct call and that Schröcker has swiftly become a key element of our team. After some initial teething problems and a stuttering start to the campaign, the whole team began to build momentum. In his first 18 games for FC Pinzgau Saalfelden, the Styrian goalkeeper made the starting XI every time and managed to keep six clean sheets; in the other 12 games, he was rarely beaten more than once – all of which made him into an extremely safe pair of hands for his team-mates.
Our No. 1 especially excelled himself on Matchday 6 in a goalless draw with SK Bischofshofen in August 2021, keeping the home side out time and time again and causing despair within the opposition ranks. With every save, you could feel the former Austria U17 goalkeeper’s confidence rising.
The 20-year-old, who describes himself as ambitious and a calculated risk-taker, is currently in the process of preparing for the upcoming spring season. But when he gets some down time, he likes to spend time with his girlfriend. The couple have identified the Ritzensee at the foot of the Steinernes Meer as their favourite hangout spot in summer and winter alike.
The FC Pinzgau Saalfelden No. 1 has some extremely ambitious objectives for the 2022 spring season: “The goal is clear: we want to finish top of the table in the second half-season and of course win the SFV-Stiegl-Landescup as well. The preparations are going very well at the moment and the training sessions are perfect. I think that’s a good and important foundation. I’m already looking forward to it starting up again!”
Schröcker hopes to build on his outstanding fall performances in the spring and put himself on the radar of bigger clubs. The Styrian recently completed some trial sessions with teams in the Austrian Bundesliga. The step to FCPS has definitely paid off for the shot-stopper. But it should be apparent to everyone that this is not the end of the line; rather, it is the starting point for a successful footballing future.