Most players need time to adapt when moving to a new country and a new league. For Michael Görlitz it took ten minutes. That is how long it took the German to find the net in his first match for Halmstads BK, one week after moving to Sweden in August 2008. "It's important to make a good start," Görlitz told UEFA.com, looking back to that day nearly two years ago.
Görlitz's positive first impression was duly noted by Halmstad newspaper Hallandsposten who, on the day after the then 21-year-old's debut opened their match report with the words: 'HBK fans have a new favourite'. Sure enough, Görlitz would go on to pick up the Halmstad supporters' Player of the Year award – both for 2008 and 2009. The midfielder has a theory about what has made him such a hit, explaining: "Perhaps my style is not typically Swedish, and that's what they like."
Small and slender, Görlitz hardly conforms to the German stereotype either. His quick feet and close ball control caught the eye of FC Bayern München, who snapped him up at the age of 15, and he appeared for Germany on 30 occasions at various youth levels. However, by the age of 21 the likes of Franck Ribéry and Bastian Schweinsteiger stood between Görlitz and a place in the Bayern midfield. "It's hard to make it to the first team at a club like that," said Görlitz, "but I'm really happy about the six years that I spent there."
While his former team-mates are preparing for the UEFA Champions League final, Görlitz has been doing his best to inspire a young, talented but inconsistent Halmstad side through the ups and downs of Sweden's top division. "Having responsibility means pressure, but it shows that Halmstad needs me," he said. "That gives me extra motivation."
Being a hit in Sweden is not where Görlitz's ambition ends. He signed for Halmstad, well aware that many scouts from foreign clubs keep an eye on the emerging talent in the Allsvenskan. "I came to Sweden to improve as a player and earn a move to a bigger league," he explained.
Perhaps his Swedish exploits could mean a return to home soil for the midfielder. "More and more is being written about me in Germany," noted Görlitz, who is still following Bayern's fortunes. "I still have friends in the Bayern team. The match against Inter won't be easy, but I think Arjen Robben can make the difference. He's been great since coming to the club."