Whilst much has been made about Town’s transfer activity so far this summer (from ourselves included), one of my personal favourite announcements of the summer has not been a signing but a renewal.
Yesterday afternoon, it was announced that Chris Löwe had signed a new two year deal, extending his stay at the John Smith’s Stadium until 2020.
In the milieu of Town’s surprise promotion, Löwe had entered the final year of his contract, causing interest from both the Bundesliga and the Premier League to swirl around the 28-year-old.
Following the arrival of Scott Malone, even more questions were being raised about Löwe’s future but it was only a matter of time that a player who had been so integral in every aspect of Town’s success last season was tied down on a long-term contract.
Whilst this news will probably drift under the radar compared to the excitement of our new signings, it gave me the opportunity to pay tribute to one of my favourite players of the ‘Wagner era’.
The Beginning of the Era
After David Wagner took over in November 2015, it was clear from the beginning that the club needed a mass overhaul and Wagner was the man to provide it.
Although Wagner did have the January transfer window to play with, it quickly became apparent that the vast majority of targets that the forward thinking German coach wanted were unavailable at that time.
Despite the disappointment of missing out on his targets in the January transfer window, Wagner worked extensively behind the scenes to make sure he secured his primary targets in the summer transfer window.
On the 6th April 2016, the proactive and relentless nature of Wagner paid off as it was announced that Chris Löwe would be joining Huddersfield Town from Kaiserslautern once his contract came to an end in June.
Even though the signing came out of the blue, we would go on to realise that it was the beginning of an era. As Löwe would go onto become one of the leaders and figureheads of what would be Town’s fairytale season.
Talent, ability, and consistency
Over the years, Huddersfield Town’s left back position has been something somewhat of a poisoned chalice.
From Paul Dixon to Jason Davidson with a sprinkling of talented loanees in between including Jack Robinson and Ben Chilwell, there has never been a player in the modern era who has thrived on a consistent basis in Town’s left-back position.
Following Wagner’s arrival, the German head coach quickly realised that the defence needed to be addressed and the arrival of Löwe was the first step in the right direction.
The arrival of Löwe saw a position of weakness instantly become a position of strength. From his very first game against Brentford, it was clear to see that he embodied David Wagner’s philosophy and suited Town’s system.
Unlike in other system’s, Löwe had a far more influential role especially when Town were in possession. Löwe’s natural awareness and footballing intelligence combined with his athleticism and willing work-rate saw him become the ideal supporting full-back as he relentlessly provided an overlapping option to Rajiv van La Parra with his cleverly timed runs.
As well as his forward forays, whilst the modern full-back can sometimes get away with being defensively flawed, Löwe showed his tenacious edge when defending. This natural ability to nip ahead of a winger who was waiting to receive the ball, saw Löwe become a tangible manifestation of the Terrier identity.
Over the course of the season, on talent and ability alone, it was proven that Löwe was one of the very best full-backs outside of the Premier League.
However, Löwe’s importance went far beyond his talent and footballing ability, Löwe’s refreshing attitude was key to Town’s success. With a willingness to take on the challenge and embrace each individual task that he was given, the most impressive facet of Löwe’s repertoire was his consistency.
From the very first minute against Brentford to his successfully converted penalty against Reading, Löwe was the epitome of consistency which saw him become a favourite, not only of the fans but also of his manager and his teammates.
Whilst the admiration of Löwe grew over the course of the entire season, at the beginning, other signings including Aaron Mooy and Christopher Schindler were attracting all the plaudits.
Despite being overlooked often for praise, Löwe showed his resilence and character to continue to perform at an exceptional level without needing the attention of the limelight.
Having come from Kaiserslautern as one of the more experienced members of Town’s newly formed squad, Löwe did not shy away from the responsibility as he instead: lead by example.
Very rarely has Löwe been visibly flustered or riled, the balanced nature of his temperament may not have stood out beside the boisterous, larger than life, personality of Michael Hefele but it cannot be understated how important Löwe was as part of Town’s air-tight defence.
When writing, I tend to try and avoid the overuse of clichés but for many, Wagner included, Löwe is the first name on the teamsheet. Purely for his consistency, his understanding of the game and the system that he plays in and the fact that he very rarely loses out in his individual battles, makes him so important.
In a PR-dominated, social media crazed society, Chris Löwe stands out as someone who steers away from the regular obsessions that professional footballers commonly have.
Aside from an Instagram account which has seven posts, all of which was whilst Löwe was at Borussia Dortmund, the digital imprint of the German full-back is very much sparse. In fact, you’re more likely to come across some Pet Shop Boy related media from his namesake rather than that of our much-beloved full-back.
Even though Chris Löwe is quiet on social media and doesn’t always stand out amongst the more lively personalities in the dressing room, it should not take away from how exceptional Löwe has been since arriving in West Yorkshire.
I personally look forward to next season where Löwe will undoubtedly step up and perform at the Premier League level and continue to be consistent, professional and forward-thinking as an integral member of Town’s side.
Whilst the spotlight very much shines on Huddersfield Town as they enter arguably the biggest stage in club football, I expect Löwe will continue to be quietly brilliant.