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'Lukas, get ready'

Dream comes true for overjoyed Raeder

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When the moment came, it all happened quickly. “Lukas, get ready!” Pep Guardiola called to his junior goalkeeper at half-time in last weekend’s Bundesliga meeting with Dortmund, as it became clear Manuel Neuer would be unable to continue due to injury. Lukas Raeder, still only 20 and goalkeeper for the fourth division Bayern reserves, made a last check of his kit, took a deep breath - and off he went, out into the Arena in front of a 71,000 crowd. “Your heart certainly beats faster,” Raeder revealed to as he relived an eventful few days.

The 45 minutes against Dortmund proved just the start. On Wednesday evening Raeder was between the sticks again, in the DFB Cup semi-final against FC Kaiserslautern. And this time the youngster was in the starting line-up. “It’s a dream come true,” said the up-and-coming hopeful, who turned in a flawless display in his side’s 5–1 victory and emanated calm authority throughout. “It was good that we took the lead. It made it easier for me personally because I was a lot more relaxed,“ he admitted.

Nor did he suffer a sleepless night prior to the highlight of his career to date. “Obviously I was turning it over in my mind, but the main thing I felt was excited anticipation,” Lukas said. He was boosted by Guardiola’s confidence and faith, with the Spaniard even passing on a few words of advice, the player revealed: “Just play your game and don’t try anything too ambitious!”

Neuer also helps and supports his young understudy, as the pair know each other from time spent together at Schalke. “Manu is my role model,” explained Raeder, “he talks to me a lot.” The 20-year-old is specially impressed and fascinated by Neuer’s ability to play as a sweeper, effectively filling in as an 11th outfield player. “The way he gets involved is incredible and obviously stands out a mile.” Raeder knows a lot of hard work lies ahead of him as he develops his professional career, but for the time being he is determined to bask in his big moment: “I’m really enjoying it!”