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Sanneh ready to sign contract to move to Nuernberg from Hertha Berlin.

By Christopher Courtney

Tony Sanneh
After three seasons playing for Hertha Berlin, Tony Sanneh has signed a more lucrative contract with Nuernberg.
NUERNBERG, Germany (Friday, March 9, 2001) -- United States midfielder Tony Sanneh, in his third season with Hertha Berlin, is about to sign a multiyear deal with 1FC Nuernberg.

Sanneh will finish the season with Hertha in the Bundesliga before moving south to Nuernberg (17-4-3, 54 points) which leads the Second Bundesliga by seven points and is looking at promotion.

Sanneh’s new contract remains unsigned because of several minor sticking points, but he told SoccerTimes he expects to finalize the deal in a matter of days for a salary considerably higher than what he currently earns at Hertha.

"I’m excited about the move and getting into a situation where I play every week," Sanneh said.

Sanneh said, "Coach (Juergen) Roeber is very understanding and there and no hard feelings over it." The fans are another story.

Since news surfaced that Sanneh is to leave Berlin, the fans at Olympic Stadium have not been hesitant to show their displeasure with Sanneh and others who plan to leave in May. Sanneh, who just returned from two matches with the U.S. national team, started Wenesday night in a 2-1 win over Unterhaching.

Sanneh says that Nuernberg coach Klaus Augenthaler plans to use him on the right side, and wants the option to make the best use of his offensive skills.

Nuernberg displayed interest in Sanneh as early as the mid-season break and Augenthaler met with the player privately during an indoor tournament in January. While negotiating with Nuernberg, Sanneh, and his agent Michael Becker, were in contact with Major League Soccer, and directly with several of its teams, in addition to two English clubs.

Augenthaler is trying to build a club which can sit in the middle of the Bundesliga standings next season and is currently targeting four or five other players to bring aboard, including 24-year old Hertha striker Kai Michalke. Considered to have a back line strong enough to play solidly in the Bundesliga, Nuernberg is trying to improve its offense and team speed.

Nuernberg recently showed an interest in U.S. defender Frankie Hejduk before he re-signed with Bayer Leverkusen just before Christmas. American striker Joe-Max Moore had a successful stint at Nuernberg in the early 1990s before moving home to play in MLS.

1FC Nuernberg was so dominant in the early years of German football that it became known simply as the Club and their fans known as Cluberers. While the team has had its ups and downs in the past 10 years, the team is now planning on an extended stay in the Bundesliga.

Leibniz Bar
When not playing, Tony Sanneh can often be found running his Leibniz Bar in Berlin.
The Club also has a small following of expatriate American fans who attend games regularly. Sanneh "better play hard because we’ll be there to let him hear it if he doesn’t," Willie Ramos, an American and longtime Nuernberg follower remarked.

Local German fans are happy about the expected signing. Rudi Blank, a lifelong Club fan said, "I am very excited that the team is getting such an international flair. I hope Sanneh feels at home here in Franconia and enjoys living here. Most of all, I hope he plays well!"

As if one job was not enough, Sanneh is also part owner of a thriving bar in Berlin whose partners he must consult before his move. The Leibniz Bar, in the Charlottenburg neighborhood of Berlin, features American food and a drink menu including a mixed drink in honor of the Hertha Berlin team. On most nights, when Hertha is not on the road, Sanneh can be found running the bar and pouring drinks, but only until May.

Christopher Courtney is an American living in Wuerzburg, Germany, where he follows the fortunes of American players in Europe. He can be contacted at yanksgermany@yahoo.com.

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