Top Stories

SBI Spotlight: Timothy Tillman is revamping his promising career at Greuther Furth

Timothy Tillman is just 21, but he has already gone through plenty of challenges during his young career.

Tillman has gone from Bayern Munich youth prospect to Bundesliga debutant and loanee. He has had his name linked to clubs like FC Barcelona, and more recently he made the move to the German second division in search of regular playing time.

Tillman rejoined German 2. Bundesliga side Greuther Furth in January from Bayern Munich, coming back to a club where he had fond memories from his six years in Furth’s academy.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forcing a halt in the season earlier this Spring, Tillman had to wait to get back onto the playing field with Furth. Now Tillman and his teammates are back in action, albeit in empty stadiums, in hopes of getting Furth back into the Bundesliga for the second time in the club’s history.

“It’s great that we can play again,” Tillman told SBI. “A big compliment to the politics and the DFL for the way they were and still are dealing with the whole situation. We can be very lucky, that the curve is flattened in Germany. Not only for soccer, especially for the whole society.”

“We’ve played a really good season so far. “Our goal is to continue that. Because of COVID-19 we will play lots of games in a short time. So we have to stay focused on every match. If we stay focused on every match we have a good chance for our best final league position for years.”

Tillman’s three years with Bayern Munich posed new challenges, including fighting for minutes alongside several other talented young players. He was loaned to FC Nuremberg in 2018 and eventually went on to make his Bundesliga debut in March 2019 in a 2-1 loss to Hoffenheim.

His debut ended in losing fashion, but overall the midfielder was excited about crossing a goal off his list.

“As a young boy I dreamed of playing in the Bundesliga,” Tillman said. “So of course the first time is a special moment but I think some substitutions and some minutes in the Bundesliga is one thing. An inherent part with a starting role is another. For reaching that, I keep on working hard on myself.”

The 21-year-old made six appearances in total for Nuremberg, but his time was short as the club was relegated in 2019 back into the second division. After moving back to Bayern, Tillman continued to work with the second team, but failed to earn an opportunity with the senior squad.

Tillman’s move to Furth not only helped him come back to a club he was familiar with, but it gave the club a hungry player ready to jump into a push for promotion.

“I felt like coming home,” Tillman said. “The club has made a very good development of infrastructure. But I still know many people from my first time here. It was also good to meet old friends until COVID-19 stopped it, but I feel very comfortable in the city. It is great to be here.”

“I think Furth is perfect for young players. Of course you have to fight for minutes, but when you do, you get a fair chance. The first half of the season at Bayern Munich II was hard, because of a longer injury for me. So I came to Furth to come back to my form. The whole staff helped me on this way and I am satisfied with the minutes I have already played.”

Tillman has since made an impact at Furth, registering two assists in six league appearances this season. In over 360 minutes of play, Tillman has added a new creativity to Furth’s midfield, sometimes playing alongside former Bayern and current U.S. Men’s National Team playmaker Julian Green.

Like Tillman, Green also found playing time hard to come by at Bayern, being loaned to Hamburg before a permanent move to Stuttgart in 2017. Green has become a first-team starter at Furth since moving to the club in 2018 following an impressive loan spell.

Tillman has enjoyed the challenge at Furth so far, even if it means battling with Green for minutes or learning even newer tactics under manager Stefan Leitl.

“We have a very good atmosphere in the team, I think our team spirit is one of our big advantages,” Tillman said. “Julian is a very good player. I learned a lot from him. He was also a player at Bayern Munich and already played for the National Team.”

“He [Stefan] has a clear plan, he likes to play football in a very attractive way. The coach and his staff mediate us how we should act on the pitch and everyone can see the development we have made. His door is open for us and he communicates a lot with us which is good.”

With the pause in the 2. Bundesliga season over, Tillman and Furth are back in action in hopes of getting into the promotion places. Following Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to Osnabruck, Furth is in eighth place in the league standings, eight points from the promotion playoff spot with seven matches remaining.

It will be tough for the club to get back into the top three, knowing two of their final seven matches are against teams currently higher than them in the table. Even if promotion doesn’t happen for the club in 2020, Tillman hopes to end on a strong note, both individually and as a team.

“I think as a 21-year-old player you have to improve on all aspects of your game,” Tillman said. “I want to score more goals, give more (assists) and improve my defensive tasks. I am still at the beginning of my career and every training and every game will help my development.”

“My goals in these last matches are to continue helping the team, keep on developing and finish this season as good as possible.”

Born in Nuremberg to a German mother and American father, Tillman has worked through the ranks of German youth national team ranks, though he is also still eligible to play for the United States. Tillman has received invitations to take part in U.S. youth national team camps before, and his younger brother Malik has played on U.S. youth national teams.

Tillman isn’t thinking about his national team future now though. His attention at the moment remains on continuing to earn minutes with Greuther Furth, though he admits he would be open to accepting a call-up if the U.S. Men’s National Team called him up.

“At the moment I am focused on playing for Furth,” Tillman said. “However, if the call came in the future it would be a big honor.”


  1. Call him up and lock him down. He says exactly what I have said twenty times: “I think Furth is perfect for young players. Of course you have to fight for minutes, but when you do, you get a fair chance….” Too many US soccer fans want players at name brand teams whether they actually play or not (or get loaned).

    • Why Germany isn’t calling up a player in the 2Bundesliga what’s your rush? He isn’t transferring out of Furth anytime soon with 2 assists in 6 matches so he’ll be in 2Bundes next season too. I guess if you want to call him into the Olympic squad he’d have to file switch paperwork. Seems pretty short sided to give a unproven player a spot on WC qualifying roster just in case he turns into something someday.

      • razor – A player can be called in for a camp without having to file for a switch. They can often even play in friendlies without having to file as long as they haven’t represented another country in a competitive match. That being said, personally I don’t think Tillman has done enough yet to earn a call-up and see the field. If/When that changes we’d be foolish not to at least explore/test what he could contribute to our pool by extending an invite to a USMNT Camp.
        Realistically he’s probably equal to some of the players Berhaulter has called on a fairly consistent basis (ex: Roldan), but its not likely that Berhaulter is willing to move away from “His Guys” until after the Olympics qualifying is decided/cancelled for good. Even then it may not be possible to for him to make the necessary changes.
        I’d love to have an opportunity to call in a group of the young fringe players in Europe (Ledezma, Tillman, Vassilev, Gloster, Mendez, Soto, etc….) for an over-sized camp just so the coaching staff could see them in on a daily basis for a couple days. See how they stack-up in training against some of the regulars who have failed to perform or are aging out (Ream, Lovitz, Roldan, Trapp, Zardes, etc….). Would give the players a taste of a National Team Camp…and the coaches could provide feedback on aspects of their game they’d want worked on to fit into the national team picture.

        As you pointed out in one of my previous posts none of these young prospects are proven players. However, many of the spots they’d could possibly challenge for are currently being filled by players who have proven time and again that they are incapable of playing at a level we need.

      • @Lost in Space, Greg had a camp last January where there were nothing but youth players and he would have called in many of the younger players performing in Europe during the european friendly trip(he said as much in an interview)but the trip was cancelled for obvious reasons, so this idea that he doesnt rate youth players is just not a thing! However, I dont see now how many of the younger players whom we havent seen yet in a NT camp gets a look with WCQ around the corner, and with leagues just starting back up there iant sufficient time to get to know any new players becauae the onus is on starting out qualifying with a bang!! Covid-19 has thrown a lot of the NT plans on the back burner with regards to youth and Olympic players

      • Lost: Tillman represented Germany in the Euro U19 Qualifying which I believe means he’d have to file a switch. Maybe I’m wrong and it’s only if it’s an international competition. IV said “lock him down” which I took to mean cap tie him he wasn’t talking a get to know you thing, plus in order to tie him he’d have to play in a competitive match if he doesn’t have to file a switch.
        What we know is he’s played in 12 professional matches. He put up good but not great numbers for Bayern U23s, ok numbers for their U19s (a league that guys like Wright and Makenzie Gaines put up better numbers in. The last time he was dominate was 4 years ago in the U17 Bundesliga. I think assuming he’s better than anyone being called in is a guess. If you look at CMs whose the odd man out when Adams returns, probably Roldan.
        As Ronniet mentioned with the compact schedule you aren’t going to get a camp to test new players until next Summer at the earliest. I still wouldn’t be surprised if the Gold Cup serves as WC qualifying. That being said if the vaccines don’t work we may not see qualifying until even later. Too many ifs to go down that path.

    • Ronniet – The past January camp was primarily a U-23 camp. Not because Berhaulter rates them above his known guys (Lovitz, Roldan, etc…), but because Olympic Qualification was scheduled to happen in March. Using the January camp to give our U-23 eligible players and extended training camp was of greater importance when the Sr. Team didn’t have anything significant any time in the near future.
      If there had been a WC Qualifying match scheduled for March I doubt we’d have seen half the players that were called into that camp. Similar situation for what was to be the March friendlies. Since the Olympic Qualification wasn’t on a FIFA date, it was intended to take a last look at those who were eligible before a potential preliminary roster would have to be made for the summer Olympic squad.

      We’ll all have to wait to see what players Berhaulter selects whenever international matches resume….but I don’t have a hole lot of confidence that Berhaulter will select and use our young emerging talents. I believe he’ll revert, like Arena, to those players he’s comfortable with….Namely Bradley, Roldan, Zardes, Ream, etc…

      • If Adams is healthy where would Roldan play? I just don’t see how he would see many minutes if everyone is healthy. I can see him as a reserve in 23 man just because he can play a variety of midfield spots but not seeing regular minutes. Berhalter said Cardosa and Gioacchini were being brought in in March both would push Roldan out if they’re ready. 3G used something like 50 guys in the first year this idea he’s tied to favorites just doesn’t pan out. We’ve been hearing from all the guys about the NT group chat and how guys that haven’t even been called in are on it. So the staff is already paving the way to integrate them.

    • Razor – Adams does not play the same position in GB’s system as Roldan…so his return to health does not impact Roldan’s place in the player pool pecking order.
      In GB’s system Adams will be deployed as either a RB (was GB’s original intent) or as the CDM (where Bradley was originally deployed). This places either Yedlin/Cannon or Bradley/Yueill/Morales, Trapp at risk for the roster spots.
      Roldan has been primarily deployed under GB as a CM (8) in what has basically been a double 8 in front of a CDM. This puts Roldan in competition with McKennie, Holmes, Lletget, Pomykal, Aaronson, Green Cappis, Ledezma, Tillman, Park, etc….

      Since most of Roldan’s competition have yet to feature for the “A-Team” under GB it’s fair to say that for now Berhaulter rates him above them and will likely continue to do so unless something drastically changes. The best opportunity for the bulk of these players would have been a strong performance in the Olympics, and since that competition has been postponed it’s going to be difficult for them to change Berhaulter’s opinion before WCQ.

      • When you listen to Berhalter I don’t think you can say that Adams will play the 6 for Berhalter. What Berhalter wants from his 6 is not what RBL asks Tyler to do. I think we likely see Ty and Wes in the 8s role with Yueill as the 6. I think we’re going to pressure hard up the field with those two and let Jackson intercept.
        What I think is 3Gs top 6 CM right now is Adams, McKennie, Yeuill, Lletget, Bradley, Roldan. I’d choose Holmes and Pomykal over the last two but Tillman wouldn’t make my top 10.

Leave a Comment