A chat with Fulham cult hero Moritz Volz convinced Sascha Riether that Craven Cottage would be the right destination for him.
German international Riether joined the Whites in the first week of July on a season-long loan from FC Cologne in a deal which gives Fulham the option to sign the 29-year-old permanently next summer.
And upon hearing of Fulham’s interest, Riether was quick to pick the brains of fellow countryman and former Whites star Volz, who made 125 league appearances in five years at the Cottage.
Riether told the official website: “I played with Volz for the German national team at Under-21, Under-20 and Under-19 level. I spent a lot of time with him and he would often tell me about Fulham.
“When I told him Fulham were interested in me, he said it would be a good choice for me to come here.
“He said good things about the Club and in the past he would always speak positively about them and the mentality of the Premier League.
“I know the crowd at Fulham liked him. He is a fighter, he always gives 100 per cent and people like that. He is a good character, a good guy.”
Riether already has some experience of Craven Cottage, having played there for VfL Wolsburg in our Europa League quarter-final tie in 2010.
Fulham progressed 3-1 on aggregate over two legs and Riether recalled: “It was a great stadium, very traditional. And the atmosphere was unbelievable. Wolfsburg lost so it was not good at the time but it was a great experience.”
Riether started his career at SC Freiburg before his switch to Wolfsburg, where he won the Bundesliga in 2009. He joined Cologne last summer but the season was to end in relegation.
“It was very disappointing,” he said. “We had a very good team and we did well for the first part of the season. But then we had a lot of problems and going down to the Second Division was very frustrating.”
So it’s a fresh start now for Riether, who met his new team-mates for the first time when the Fulham squad returned for pre-season training on a drizzly Monday at Motspur Park.
“I’m very happy to be here,” he said. “It’s always a great experience to change club and to change to a new country. In Germany they say the Premier League is the best league in the world and for me it is a great honour to be at a big Club with a big tradition like Fulham. I hope I can help Fulham progress in the right direction.
“At first, I have to get to know the players, the Club, the crowd and the fans. We want to be successful, I won’t say which place we will reach in the league but we will see how we start and I hope we have a good season.”
He continued: “It’s a big step for me as I have always played in Germany. I learned English in school but I have to learn more.
“I have been here for a few days and it has almost always been raining! I hope the summer comes soon. But it’s quite good for pre-season as it’s not too hot.”
Comfortable in either defence or midfield, Riether’s versatility could be a handy weapon for the Whites over the course of a long, hard season.
“In Germany, I played everywhere apart from in goal and as a striker!” he said. “I am comfortable in most positions. I don’t have a position I feel I must play in; if the coach wants me to play somewhere I will try my best.”
Capped twice at international level in 2010, Riether also hopes his switch to England will lead to further action for his country.
“I hope to add to those appearances,” he stated. “It will be a good experience to play here and there are other German players in the Premier League. The German coach will be looking at players like Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker at Arsenal so hopefully he will look at me too. We will see what happens.”