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Jorg Bohme, a cornerstone ofSchalke’s championship-chasing side and widely tipped to be on the verge of his first cap for Germany, is the man of the moment in the Bundesliga.

Since arriving at the Gelsenkirchen club from relegated Arminia Bielefeld last summer, the 27-year-old left-sided midfielder has been in electrifying form. The conventional wisdom is that the golden triangle he forms with playmaker Andy Moller and striker Ebbe Sand is the main reason Schalke have suddenly been transformed from mid-table under-achievers into real title candidates.

There is little wonder that Kicker, the German sports magazine, named Bohme the Bundesliga’sbest flank man of the first half of the season. He showed his pace, dribbling ability and accurate delivery from set-pieces to full effect.

Not only that, but he scored six goals, most of them spectacular. There was the nonchalant left-foot curler against Eintracht Frankfurt, the howitzer long-range free-kick against Hertha, and the stunning right-foot shot from distance at Koln. Not bad given that, before this season, he had scored only three goals in 66 Bundesliga starts.

“I think I’m scoring more simply because there’s a very attacking set-up at Schalke,” says Bohme, a product of football academies inthe old DDR. “Jiri Nemec and Nico Van Kerckhoven give me great defensive cover, and I’m completely free to concentrate on my strengths – going forward and taking on defenders. It’s also true that theopposition are focusing on Moller, Sand and (Emile) Mpenza and I’m left to work in peace.”

There were many in German football who thought Schalke had made a mistake when they bought Bohme. At all his previous clubs he constantly picked up yellow and red cards, clashed with coaches and led a life hardly befitting that of a professional sportsman. His misdemeanours off the field led to him picking up six months’ probation for assault in 1994 and a drink-drive ban.

However, Schalke general manager Rudi Assauer was undeterred and paid Bielefeld œ500,000 for Bohme. “He can be crazy, but in a very positive way,” said Assauer. “A team needs characters like him.”

And how Bohme has responded. “I’ve not had a lot of luck in my career but it was my good fortune to come to Schalke,” he says. “I feel Rudi Assauer and coach Huub Stevens believe in me and it makes me strong. Stevens doesn’t want to put me in a rigid system which does not play to my strengths.

“I did some stupid things in the past. I never thought about the consequences but I have learned my lesson, and since the birth of my son, Eric-Lucas, I have calmed down. My wild days are over.”

Marco Bode and Christian Ziege beware – Jorg Bohme is after your national team place.

FACT FILE
Club Schalke
Country Germany
Born January 22, 1974, in Zeitz
Previous clubs Chemie Zeitz, Carl Zeiss Jena, Nurnberg, Eintracht Frankfurt, 1860 Munich, Arminia Bielefeld

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