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PORTRAIT OF MARKUS PALIONIS FROM THE JAHN
https://www.ssv-jahn.de/alle-neuigkeite ... 9101900fa9
When Markus Palionis came to SSV Jahn in 2014, he was about to be relegated to the Regionalliga [ketvirtas divizionas]. In the six years that followed, everything went up, including four years in the 2nd Bundesliga. Now "Palle" changes from the player to the Jahn's coaching team. A story of ups and downs, good times and bad. A story about a great personality and values. The story of Markus Palionis.
Markus Palionis is sitting in the Jahn's meeting room in the new functional building on the training grounds on Kaulbachweg. He's having an espresso. Behind him is a large screen for video analysis, and to the side of him is a large window front through which you can look directly at second place on the training grounds. The building is new; the team moved into it less than a year ago. Back then, Palionis was still a player, today he is part of the Jahn Profis coaching team. And Palionis is the one who is most impressively shown the development of the Jahn in recent years.
After the conversation, Palionis quickly packs his things. Out of the new, into the old functional building. Everything here is much darker, old, rather shabby. It is difficult to imagine that the Jahn prepared for the games in the 2nd Bundesliga here not too many months ago. Preparations are pending for Palionis again. In the evening he trains with the U21 team, which he has been strengthening since this season. Markus Palionis, constantly on the move between two (Jahn) worlds.
“There are really two extremes that are brought before my eyes every day. You can see how nice it is for the professionals here. Many new players do not even know the old conditions. In the old building you go inside and think to yourself: I want to get out quickly. You really enjoy working in the new building and you have everything you need. That is something special and shows what has happened to Jahn over the years, ” emphasizes Palionis. But he also knows that it is not the premises that are decisive, but the people who work in the premises.
Palionis and the Jahn: Initially a community of convenience
The 34-year-old can still remember his beginnings in the Upper Palatinate. In October 2014 he transferred to Jahn. At that time he was without a club and Jahn, already bottom of the table in the 3rd division, was looking for new players. Palionis had heard a lot from Jahn, including little that was good. Difficult circumstances, no salary payments, crazy electricity. A reputation that the club had at that time. A club that you didn't necessarily want to switch to as a player. “But if I'm honest,” Palionis looks back, “I didn't really have other options at the time.” Palionis and the Jahn - initially a community of convenience.
Against the SG Sonnenhof Großaspach Palionis made his debut for the Jahn. 2-0 home win. The turnaround? No, not many victories followed this season. "There was a lot of unrest in the team, not a good spirit, a lot just didn't go right," the defender looks back. A team is a very unstable structure that can easily shake if individual parts do not fit. Palionis had also been hired to go ahead and take responsibility as a more experienced player. He tried that. “But it felt like the path was already mapped out,” he recalls. For himself these were "difficult moments" :“It was a deep feeling of powerlessness. Week after week you have the hope that things will get better. But it wasn't. For me personally, the descent was a deep blow that hit me brutally."
Palionis led the way: "There were only two options ..."
But Markus Palionis is not someone who runs away in difficult moments. He went ahead, was the first player on the relegation team to sign a new contract and extended it by three years. “Then I first had to review the season for a week. But then I rolled up my sleeves and knew I had to go ahead now. It was clear to me: Now we have to deliver and our goal can only be an immediate ascent. There were only two options for me: Either we get promoted or I die on the pitch. "
Why did Palionis decide to stay in Regensburg for the long term? "Back then I saw the trends, saw the people who work here, the office headed by Christian Keller," he says. “And I also felt responsible for the descent. For me that was the most important factor that I didn't want to run away. "
In the Regionalliga season, Palionis then went ahead as captain. “The right players stayed behind,” he says, listing a few names: Uwe Hesse, Wastl Nachreiner, Oli Hein, Marcel Hofrath, Marvin Knoll, Andi Geipl. “They were all players who have made a huge contribution to Jahn's incredible path in recent years,” said Palionis. After a strong start to the season in the Regionalliga, there were also weaker phases. Just think of Buchbach. 0:1. "That was the celebration of the decade for them," says Palionis.
The madness of Burghausen
Two weeks after the defeat in Buchbach, it went to lickt Burghausen, to Palionis' ex-club. It was 0-0 for a long time. “The motto was eat or die," he remembers. His parents were at the stadium. They already did that for his first second division goal, the goal back then for Wacker Burghausen. Now they were back - and in the 77th minute Palionis actually made that 1-0, the winning goal. Extreme emotions. "The cheering shows how many emotions there were. I would have loved to have eaten all of them at that moment," says Palionis today with a smile. "That was an incredibly important goal. It unlocked the way in the right direction"
The Jahn made it into the relegation. The opponent: VfL Wolfsburg II. The first leg was lost 0-1. "How Wolfsburg cheered with the fans after the game - that stayed in the head of all the players," remembers Palionis. The second leg at the Jahnstadion, a nearly sold-out house and an atmosphere that the stadium has seldom seen in its first six years. At half-time it was 0-0, but the Jahn had already been running for 45 minutes. "I looked in the faces at half-time, everyone was red and just panting. I wasn't sure whether we would do another 45 like that in the heat" The former Jahn captain looks back. "And then we just went a step further..."
"We called up something that we actually no longer had in the tank"
With goals from Andi Geipl and Kolja Pusch, the SSV won 2-0 and actually rose. The shame of relegation to the regional league was eradicated. "That was the most incredible and emotional game for me personally, also because we were under such pressure," says Palionis. "Something happened in this game that I cannot grasp. Because we have called up something that we actually no longer had in the tank. It was like being in a frenzy. And for the first time we really saw what the fans in Regensburg are capable of."
So Jahn was back in the third division. And suddenly it was a good third division team who already had 27 points after half the season. Christian Keller then said to the team that they wanted to top this point result in the second half of the season, as he later said - and the smart players would have known what that would mean. One wanted to attack above
The Jahn and the special team spirit
The second half of the season was actually even more successful, in the end there were 63 points and relegation rank three. "Perhaps this path was somehow already mapped out because there were many characters in the team who simply deserved it, "says Palionis, looking back. For him, the decisive factor: the cohesion. He tells. “We weren't 11 friends, but it was a special team in which everyone was there for each other." He is also convinced: "This extraordinary team spirit could only develop because we had experienced difficult times together before. The success of these years was the result of our sticking together in the bad times. It's like one Marriage: Anything that doesn't break you just makes you stronger. There were just special guys on this team."
The third division season was also marked by a personal setback for Palionis. He had torn his cruciate ligament, was out for months and only played nine league games, in the relegation games against 1860 (Palionis: "I had the feeling at all times that we were advancing") he was also substituted twice. "I was still, it was always relatively close to the team and I was extremely happy with the team, even if it was of course not an easy time for me. " Being able to be happy for and with others - that is a quality that Palionis is particularly proud of.
So after the return he made a remarkable decision and made his captaincy available. "I realized early on after my injury that I wasn't ready and that I wasn't able to compete with the guys at first. I practically trained through the summer and then fell into a small hole. Then I went to Achim Beierlorzer and told him that if I didn't play a role in sport, it didn't make sense for me to stand for the captaincy", Palionis looks back.
"Putting your own ego behind is a great art. I've learned that over the years," says Palionis, also referring to the previous seasons, when he didn't play too much in the second division." I was always in a conflict. On the one hand, I saw myself as part of the team, I was extremely happy. On the other hand, my athlete's heart was bleeding when you always give everything during the week, but the coach repeatedly decides against you." In some situations he has had to nibble on it, has come home in the evening and asked himself whether it still made sense to be here. "Finding another club would have been the easier way, but that was never an option for me. I wanted to stay here and today I am very happy about it, although the time was very difficult for me." He has grown a lot personally during this time, he estimates today. "I have learned to just put my ego on the back burner. That is, I think, the biggest problem with younger players is that they don't see the big picture, that they don't manage to sacrifice themselves for the team, regardless of whether they are playing at the moment or not."
For Palionis, the fact that Jahn has now repeatedly held the class has to do with the team spirit of the team. Here he praises the club's decision at the time to start the first second division season 2017/18 with the majority of the promoted team. He suspects that not many clubs would have done that to give this team their trust. "Jahn had the courage to do so. We knew from the start that it would be difficult, but we also knew that we could do it. Because the spirit of this team lived on," says Palionis and adds: "What many do not understand is that The 2nd Liga means solidarity, team cohesion and team spirit. These points are the prerequisites for the 2nd league. The Jahn shows that year for year, these values are lived here.
The team spirit as a genetic material: "If you don't do that, you will fail here."
That this spirit is lived on at Jahn is also essential for Palionis. "In our first year in the second division there were still a lot of players who were already in the regional division, currently there are only two with Wastl Nachreiner and Jann George. But at Jahn this team spirit is like a legacy that is passed on to the new players and that is not lost. The coaching team sets an example, the whole club lives it. As a player, you have no choice but to live it. If you don't do that, you fail here." He takes Benedikt Saller as a positive example from the current team. "He has an extreme identification with the club, he loves the club, you can see that in every training session and in every game. See that also the new ones and that carries over. "
In a playful way, Palionis has meanwhile identified a further development of the team over the past few years. "In the first two years of the second division we felt like we were only playing league football, now we can do more with the ball and we have a lot of options. Another difference lies in the depth of the squad. Now we have 18 or 19 players who have regular place potential, that wasn't necessarily the case three years ago."
Palionis now accompanies all of this from a different perspective. He moved in the summer, from player to coaching team. He now acts as an individual training co-trainer. In the summer he asked for a bit of time to think about it. It was a matter of collecting first. Palionis would have dared to play for another year. But after he stopped playing at the end of last season, although there were many players injured in his position, the prospect of more playing time was slim. Secretly, says Palionis today, he already knew immediately after talking to Jáhn's managing director Christian Keller that he would like to take on the new task that was offered. "Today I'm sitting here and I'm very happy about this decision," says Palionis. He and his family feel right at home in Regensburg. And Palionis also appreciate that the club wanted to keep him. It's very rare that clubs like this to stand by their players and show them gratitude. "Jahn created a position for me that didn't exist in this form before. It couldn't be more Thank you."
For Palionis, too, there were only two options: stick with Jahn, or quit football and do something else. He has the Jahn in his heart. "Regensburg and Jahn have become my home," he emphasizes. With his sandbox love Erika, as Palionis calls it, and with the children Damian (11) and Gabriela (4), he feels that he is in good hands in Regensburg. Palionis knows how to treasure his life here. He grew up in Lithuania, in a skyscraper, but the family didn't have a lot of money. "Nevertheless, I had a beautiful and guarded childhood," says Palionis. The fact that the family emigrated to Germany when he was eight years old was nevertheless a stroke of luck for the rest of his life. "But my childhood also made me who I am today. I know where I'm from and I really appreciate everything."
And Palionis knows what is really important in life: "Family is the most important thing, the foundation of life." He wants to set values to his children and pass them on to them. Respect, love, honesty "- that is what his children should live.
Potential and talent? “Greed, will and inner drive are decisive"
Palionis now also wants to pass on a lot in his new functions, when he trains the professionals individually. “It's especially fun with players who are highly motivated and willing to learn. We have a few of them in the squad, Jahn also needs players like that," he says. But he also wants to pass something on in his second new role as a U21 player. "I am also very aggressive and clear about certain things," he says. "Maybe not every player can cope with that." But he prefers it than that the players do not do everything and in the end fail somewhere. "There are players in the U21 who have potential," says Palionis. "But potential and talent are not the most important thing. The decisive factors are greed, will and inner drive." And who better to convey these factors than Markus Palionis? The man who carries the Jahn in his heart and is on the move between the (Jahn) worlds.
The portrait of Markus Palionis is the cover story of the August issue of the Jahnzeit. You can read the full portrait and all other content in the August issue of Jahnzeit. As usual, the edition was created in cooperation with the partners Valentum Kommunikation GmbH (layout), printzen (printing) & iHeft (multimedia edition). The corporate design comes from seitenwind. The new Jahnzeit in printed form is also available in the Jahn fan shop at the Jahnstadion Regensburg and in the Jahn online shop.