Barnsley’s Dominik Frieser hoping to join exclusive group in Premier League

THE list of Austrian players who have graced the Premier League is not a particularly extensive one.

Barnsley's Dominik Frieser. Picture: Tony Johnson

Names that football followers may recall include current Leicester City defender Christian Fuchs, former West Ham and Stoke City forward Marko Arnautovic, one-time Middlesbrough defender Emmanuel Pogatetz and ex-Arsenal custodian Alex Manninger, a good friend of Barnsley’s previous head coach, Gerhard Struber.

As Reds forward Dominik Frieser matter-of-factly pointed out to The Yorkshire Post this week, there was another recent addition to that list. And he would dearly love for there to be another by the end of this month.

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He said: “There is now another one. Daniel Bachmann at Watford. I hope next year that there are more Austrian players in the Premier League and we (Barnsley) reach that goal.

“I know that they got to the Premier League just one time (before) in 1997.”

When Frieser arrived in South Yorkshire from Austrian Bundesliga outfit LASK Linz last August, it is fair to say that he was not envisaging a promotion tilt in his first season at the club.

That has been the delicious reality for the Reds, who are three games from the big time after being a matter of minutes away from being relegated to League One last July.

Two weeks after Barnsley secured their Championship status amid scenes of pure theatre and emotion at Brentford’s former Griffin Park home, Frieser stepped out against Manchester United for his final game for LASK when they visited Manchester United for a Europa League round of 16 second leg tie.

If things go well, his final match of the current season could see him help book a ticket to return to Old Trafford next season. What a story that would be, with the feats of Barnsley starting to resonate back in his homeland of Austria.

Frieser, who returned from a hamstring injury to feature in the Reds’ final game of the regular season at home to champions Norwich City last Saturday, added: “We lost 2-1 and they had really good players and I was surprised that they were so good, especially (Paul) Pogba, who was unreal and you can see their players were really good and I wanted to come to their level.

“But I recognise there is a lot of work to get (near) to these players.

“My family and friends are excited for me and the newspapers from Austria are writing about me and they also want interviews and ask about the semi-final with Swansea and it is big because there are no (other) Austrian players in the semi-final.”

Like many football-mad teenagers growing up on the continent, Frieser, 27, who hails from Austria’s second city of Graz, followed the Premier League and the Bundesliga avidly.

Now wearing the colours of Barnsley, his team were another side who play in red and white in Arsenal, with a visit to the Emirates Stadium being another to tick off on his ‘bucket list’ should the Oakwell outfit go all the way and clinch promotion later this month.

The striker, preparing for Monday’s play-off semi-final first leg against Swansea at Oakwell, commented: “I watched a lot of football from all over the world, especially English and German football. My weekends when we did not play were just (watching) football.

“When I was a kid, I preferred Arsenal. Thierry Henry was my idol.”

Should Barnsley emerge victorious and rub shoulders with the likes of Arsenal, the two Manchester giants and Liverpool next season, then it could also potentially thrust Frieser into the international spotlight and boost his hopes of representing the Austrian national side as well.

On his thoughts, Frieser added; “I don’t know. I was never there on the B side. (But) Maybe if we get to the Premier League, the national coach looks more to the Austrian players in England.”

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