Skip to main content Skip to site footer
First Team News

Thorsten Stuckmann: Penalty Heroics, Wembley Delight and Face Masks

28 May 2023

First Team News

Thorsten Stuckmann: Penalty Heroics, Wembley Delight and Face Masks

28 May 2023

Not many players can say they’ve looked into an away end to see several versions of their own face staring back at them.

Confused? So was Thorsten Stuckmann in 2012 when the Preston North End fans dedicated an away day to their German goalkeeper.

Such was their love for the No.1 at the time, the North End faithful arranged for hundreds of Stuckmann masks to be within the away end at Oldham Athletic’s Boundary Park, to show their appreciation for the man who would be named Player of the Year at the end of PNE’s first campaign back in League One.


“I always had a really good connection to the fans,” Thorsten said, when he visited the training ground in April 2023.

“I think Graham Westley was a bit jealous of me for the Stuckmann masks at Oldham at the time.

“I’ve never experienced something like this and they made a special day out of me. They wore my face masks and it still sounds bizarre, but it was brilliant.

“The fans were brilliant all the time here, really polite in supporting me and that’s why I always look forward to coming back home.

“Hopefully next year I can come back to Deepdale and watch a game there.”

The former shot-stopper spent three and a half years as a PNE player between 2011 and 2015, establishing himself as a fans’ favourite during that time and ultimately helping the side earn promotion back to the second tier.

Fast forward eight years and the 42-year-old returned to the club he holds so close to his heart while on a working trip to England in his new capacity as a goalkeeper scout for Eintracht Frankfurt.

Other than the ceilings at Euxton being too low for his 6ft 6in liking, Thorsten was delighted to get the chance to reunite with some former colleagues and friends, while observing training.

He said: “It feels like coming home to be fair. When I first came over this week here to the UK – I’ve not been since Covid – it felt like coming home.

“Driving up the motorway this morning was really familiar and I’ve got really good memories of Preston. My whole family has and it’s nice to be here.”

No memories on a personal scale will rank much higher than another day in Oldham, though, in November 2014 when the German was the hero in a penalty shootout – not the first time that sentence has been written.

But not just for his saving exploits; more so for taking, and converting, the decisive spot kick in the 10-9 shootout to take North End to the area semi-final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.


“It came to the point which I thought it would never come to because I never wanted it to come this far that I had to take a penalty,” he laughed.

“I was really happy that Neil Etheridge – the ‘keeper for the other team – had to take the first one and I think it’s still flying over the roof in Oldham.

“He just smashed it over the bar and it was such a relief for me that even if I miss it just starts from the start.

“I lined up, he went really early to the other side and I just thought, ‘Happy days, I just have to put it in the corner,’ and that’s what I did.

“It was my first penalty I took and the last one as well, so it was great.”

While North End missed out on a trip to Wembley in that competition, they would mark their territory there in league action in May 2015.

While it wasn’t the plan to reclaim Championship football via that route – having heartbreakingly missed out on automatic promotion on the final day – the Play-Offs gave PNE everlasting memories.

Thorsten was named as a substitute for all three matches, including the showpiece at the national stadium when North End swept Swindon Town aside by four goals to nil.

That day proved to be the goalkeeper’s last as a PNE player, but what a way to bow out.

Thorsten reminisced: “It was probably the perfect way to finish my PNE career with the game at Wembley, but I had an offer here and I also had an offer from Doncaster.

“Doncaster wanted me as a first-choice ‘keeper and I wanted my kids to see me play instead of sitting on the bench, so I had to weigh it up.

“Looking back, it probably would have been great to be here as well because my dream when I first came over was to play in the Championship and it didn’t work out, but it was perfect looking back.

“I spent three and a half brilliant years at this club; this is my favourite club in England now.

“I’ve still got really good memories of it. I love the place, I love Deepdale and the fans and everything around it.

“I finished off with the task I first signed for, to get the club back to the Championship, [so it] was probably good timing.”

After his time with North End – where he worked alongside the likes of Declan Rudd and Sam Johnstone, who he spoke about glowingly – Thorsten had short spells with Doncaster Rovers, Partick Thistle, Chesterfield and Fortuna Dusseldorf, before retiring through injury.

He went on to work for the German players’ association, as well as working with some media outlets, but he has recently taken up the new role of goalkeeper scout for Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt.

“We’ve got a blank sheet of paper and we just have to go from there which sounds so interesting to me and I really enjoy what I’m doing,” Thorsten added.

“It’s a lot of work, a lot of new input for me, but I’m really enjoying it.

“It’s a great connection with the other goalkeepers and goalkeeper coaches, and I’m really looking forward to the work which will be a lot, but it’s really good.”

Watch our full interview with Thorsten on iFollow PNE at the top of this page.

Advertisement block

iFollow Next Match Tickets Account