When Christopher Schindler got a surprise call from David Wagner last summer saying he was interested in signing him for Huddersfield, he admitted he no idea where the town even was.
Twelve months on, the unflappable German centre-half ended the Terriers’ 45-year top-flight drought and secured his position as a club legend with the decisive penalty at Wembley, sending Town to the Premier League for the first time.
The 43rd most expensive signing in the Championship last season was a near ever-present for the Terriers since moving from 1860 Munich.
Calm, passionate and skillful, Schindler was branded with the nickname ‘Rolls Royce’ by Town fans within the first month of his arrival.
But that is the last thing you’d probably see the dedicated family man driving, a player whose playing style is so laid back he’s practically on the floor.
The former 1860 captain arrived too late to join his new team-mates at David Wagner’s now infamous Swedish boot-camp last summer, where the Town boss took away players’ phones and food before leaving them in the wild to fend for themselves.
It was a masterstroke from Wagner, whose gamble has clearly paid off with the most unlikely of promotions.
He said after Wembley: “It was a starting point to bind the team together and the bonding and togetherness built from there.”
Schindler though, his voice dripping with sarcasm, suggested his team-mates were less impressed: “They told me Sweden was really nice and I missed something really special.”
Instead the German stayed in Huddersfield to discuss plans for the season with chairman Dean Hoyle, with the talks giving Schindler a ‘good feeling’ that this team was going places.
It took a lot for Huddersfield to shell out £1.8million – a record fee – for a player who’d only ever played in Germany’s fourth, third and second tiers.
But Schindler, club captain of 1860 aged just 24, was identified by Wagner as the key man to land if Huddersfield were to look up, rather than down, during 2016-17.
The pair had never met. Wagner had admired him from afar whilst boss of Dortmund II and gave him that call, told him that he had big plans in West Yorkshire, and he wanted the 1860 captain at the centre of those ideas.
Schindler had joined the youth ranks at Die Lowens aged just eight, a club that throughout his time there was dogged by financial problems and countless managers.
But through that the athletic centre-back became a fan favourite, a constant feature in a side that was barely recognisable year-on-year.
It says something that moments after the final whilst, the 1860 Twitter account was sending their congratulations to their ‘former Lion’.
Huddersfield’s quiet man can now enjoy a short summer break before the madness of the Premier League – but don’t expect him to change now Wagner’s side have hit the big time.
As humble as ever, he said after that winning penalty: “This is the best feeling of my life, nobody can take this away from us and this is something I will be able to tell my kids. I’m so proud.”
A Rolls Royce he may be, and Huddersfield can now afford several. But they won’t find a calmer or more deserving man to sit in the heart of their defence come next season.