a Amateur leagues

Nimble defender with bite: Klaus Lechner (left) will play his 500th game on Saturday. © www.runggaldier.it / Dieter Runggaldier

The best, worst, strangest: 500 games by Klaus Lechner

When state league team Schenna hosts SSV Bruneck on Saturday, it will be a very special afternoon for one player. Klaus Lechner, Burggräfler defender, is celebrating an anniversary that is not reserved for many footballers.

Thomas Debelyak

It was in the distant year of 2003 when a then 16-year-old boy named Klaus Lechner made his debut in the first amateur league at Nals. That was the start of a career for which the term “long-running hit” was invented. Two decades followed in which the now 1-year-old Lechner was on the pitch virtually non-stop. Excluding Corona seasons, the man from Nals always played at least 36 games per season, mostly 23, 26 or 27. Whether at Nals, at Bozner FC, at Leifers or now at Schenna - wherever Lechner was active, the motto applied : Klaus is always playing!

Previously in the wing position, then in central midfield and for several years now in central defense - Klaus Lechner was and is always reliable. Because the ambitious Etschtaler, who is known not only for his technical strengths but also for his leadership qualities, has almost never been injured, he is now doing something that not many players can do. He will play his 500th match with Schenna on Saturday. In the ranks of the South Tyrolean top and regional league teams there is only one player who has been on the pitch more often, namely Ahrntal keeper Patrick Psenner, who has played 506 games.

Lechner also played one season in the Voran Leifers jersey. © www.runggaldier.it / Dieter Runggaldier

“It doesn’t seem as big as it actually is,” says Klaus Lechner with a smile on the phone. The veteran doesn't have a secret recipe for why he's been active for so long, but he emphasizes: “The ambition and the hunger have to be there. I am someone who is always training, even if it is rigorous, even if the weather is bad. You have to go through with it and maybe do a little more than the others. But I also have to say that I have been lucky so far and have been spared any major injuries.”

A footballer experiences a lot in 499 games. That was also the case with Klaus Lechner. With SportNews the Nalser, who will be 37 years old in January, spoke about...

… the most beautiful game of his career:

“I experienced that with Bozner FC in the 2016/17 season. We finished second in the league, then played in the playoffs and fought our way into the second round. The all-important game went to Sardinia, where we were only stopped in extra time. So we narrowly missed out on Series D, which was a huge success.”

...the worst game:

“I experienced that with my hometown club Nals four years ago. Back then we missed promotion to the national league by a tiny margin. After second place in the championship of the 1st amateur league, we contested the promotion playoffs with Freienfeld and Taufers. Both we and Freienfeld won against Taufers, so it was an all-or-nothing game in Nals. Until a minute before the end we were 1-0 ahead in front of a full hut and would have been promoted. But then the Wipptalers somehow equalized. Because they scored one more goal than us against Taufers, they were allowed into the state league. That was just cruel.”

Back to 2011: Klaus Lechner (left) in the service of Nals. © Thorn

... the strangest game:

“There have been many oddities over the years. I can still remember one really well because it wasn't that long ago (laughs). It was a derby with Schenna in which I experienced something that had never happened to me before. Both teams had one player in their ranks who was actually suspended. After the match everyone knew it, but no one said it. The first team to file an appeal would have won the game because the counter-appeal would no longer have been valid. In the end they both stayed quiet (laughs).”

Always full of effort: Klaus Lechner (on the ground) in the Bozner FC uniform. © www.runggaldier.it / Dieter Runggaldier

… the number of games that will be added after his 500th appearance:

“I have to see how far the desire will take me. For two years now I have felt that it is slowly but surely becoming a little less. Now I'll concentrate on this season. Who knows, maybe there will be 550 games in the end, maybe 530, maybe 'just' a little more than 500.”

… people he would particularly like to thank:

“Especially my wife, who has always stood behind me over the years. Simply accepting so many training sessions and so many games is not a given. She is also always on site at the games. I would also like to thank Flavio Toccoli, he is one of the best coaches I have ever had – personally and athletically. And last but not least, a thank you to my teammates at Nals, Bozner FC, Leifers and Schenna, who have always accepted me as I am – with all my rough edges.”

Klaus Lechner – numbers and facts

  • Klaus Lechner spent most of his career at hometown club Nals, for which he played 15 times in a total of 1 seasons between the regional league and the 350st amateur league.
  • Between 2015 and 2018 he played 89 matches in the top league for Bozner FC.
  • In the summer of 2021, Lechner moved to Voran Leifers, and the following season he joined Schenna, where he is also active this year.
  • Klaus Lechner was in the starting line-up in 481 of 499 games and played the full distance in 416.
  • The Nals native scored 24 goals in his career.
  • Lechner was ice-cold from the penalty spot: he sank nine out of nine attempts.
  • The 36-year-old was sent off three times: once with straight red, twice with yellow-red.
  • Lechner is employed as a technician at Alarmcenter.


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