Exactly 10 years ago, Michael Parensen signed for 1. FC Union Berlin.
Aged 22, Parensen switched from 1. FC Köln's second team to replace the injured Patrick Kohlmann in Köpenick. The versatile defender arrived at Union Berlin during times of upheaval: he saw the modernisation of the Stadion An der Alten Försterei and then played under Uwe Neuhaus when Union played their home games at the Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn Sportpark.
1. FC Union Berlin presented themselves as a potential career saver for 22-year-old Parensen . "Union was my last chance," he said. The day after Parensen signed his contract in Berlin, Union lost 2-1 to Schöneiche who then played in Germany's fifth division. Not the best start ...
3.Liga champion, fans favourite
The club ended the 2009/10 season as 3.Liga champions and Parensen began to establish himself as a key figure at Union. He appeared 24 times in his first 2.Bundesliga campaign and has since gone on to make 203 appearances in the second division for Union Berlin — the most of any player in the club's history.
But Parensen's path to a decade at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei has never been routine. His career has been disrupted due to some serious injures — in 2010/11, Parensen missed large chunks of the campaign after rupturing a ligament in his knee. An unforgettable memory for Union supporters is the derby match againt Hertha BSC. Parensen's commitment took him into an aerial challenge where he suffered concussion and was taken off the pitch. The support from the terraces continued to be unwavering, even with Micha was on the sidelines.
Wir haben dich nicht vergessen, oh Michael
Denn ein jeder weiß, wie stark du einst wahahaharst.
Du hast den 1. FC Union in deiner Seel‘.
Hoch den Kopf, dann wird das schon, bald bist du wieder da!
Cult hero, integral part of the squad
When Parensen was on the pitch, his contribution was outstanding. He has scored seven times for the club and assisted 18 goals. Even though Michael has found regular game time hard to come by this season under Urs Fischer, he remains a key figure at Union: his leadership, professionalism in training, experience and motivation is invaluable to the current squad. Parensen has assumed responsibility for the general dynamics of the squad and is the go-to person in the dressing room.
And when it comes down to it, Parensen has shown the coaching team that he's still a reliable option in many different positions on the field. After Florian Hübner's suspension earlier in the season, Parensen stepped in for the 2-0 win over VfL Bochum and turned in a solid performance.
A fans favourite, Parensen has given lots back to the club in his own time. He has been a member of the Board of Trustees of Union's own foundation 'Union Vereint: Schulter an Schulter' since August 2016. He's particularly involved in the project 'Niemals Vergessen' which gives support to pupils of the Otto-Hahn School in Neukölln from socially-disadvantaged backgrounds around reading, writing and arithmetic. He is also a sponsor of the refugee shelter Allende II in Köpenick.
Parensen has plans for when his career comes to an end and studied Business Administration in his own time. "For many years, I've been thinking about what will happen when I stop playing football. So I won't be unprepared after the end of my career."
Many thanks for 10 years at Union Berlin, Michael!