For the second time, Junior Chukwubuike Adamu, to use his full name - one of our own from the Red Bull Football Academy - has been called up into the Austrian national team. His strong performances over the past few weeks and months made that inevitable.
There are two goals of the 21-year-old that we remember particularly fondly as we look back at 2022. His goal in our final Champions League home match against Chelsea, and his strike in the last 16 of the Champions League against Bayern - both times he sent the Red Bull Arena rocking!
The goal against Bayern was a hugely symbolic moment for our club and also for Junior, who had been a Bayern fan growing up. His two big idols play there - one of whom shares the same nationality and Nigerian roots as Junior.
When I faced him against Bayern and had the chance to shake hands, it was a real dream coming true.
"I was always a big fan of David Alaba. His development has been incredible, and I would like to go just as far. My role model in my position in Robert Lewandowski, who just scores a ridiculous number of goals. I try to learn as much as I can from him. When I faced him against Bayern and had the chance to shake hands, it was a real dream coming true."
Junior celebrated his goals against Chelsea and Bayern in the same way - with the Griddy. The dance crazw originating from American Football has become his signature celebration, and our attacking talent can't wait to show it again in the future.
"I chatted with Karim Adeyemi before the Bayern match. We'd seen the Griddy dance on TikTok and said we'll do it whenever one of us next scores - then it happened right away against Bayern. Scoring in the Champions League is something special, and you need your own celebration for that. Perhaps in the Europa League too …"
Junior's story began in the bustling Nigerian city of Kano, where he was born. At the age of two he came to Graz – which was quite a change for the striker's family.
"Friends of my father lived here and told us how good it is, and my family decided to make the move. I was last in Nigeria when I was 15, and unfortunately we had to cancel our last visit due to the pandemic. I hope to go back soon. My grandmother still lives there, after all, along with a few other relatives."
Playing football was always likely to be a big part of Junior's life. His father used to be a striker in Nigeria and young Junior soon developed a preference for attacking.
I was a left-back to begin with, but they noticed at GAK that my strength is goalscoring.
"I started as a left-back, but I used to run up and down a lot, and I managed to score a few goals. At some stage GAK invited me to a trial, as they were impressed how much I ran about the pitch. I came to the trial with three others, and I was the only one taken on, which really made me feel sorry for the others. I was a left-back there first too, until GAK noticed that my strength was in goalscoring."
Should Matthias Jaissle hit upon the idea of sending Junior out as Andi Ulmer's replacement, he might have to contend with an angry Adamu Senior, as his first coach found out.
"My father would come onto the pitch at times and order me to go forward. For my first club, GSV Wacker, the coach put me in goal, but my father came on and ordered me out as he didn't want to see me in goal as a former striker."
The footballing genes run through the Adamu family. Junior's sister Cynthia plays in St. Pölten, while his brothers Joshua and Mathias both play in Graz. Junior's football career was almost over before it began, as our marksman was into so many different sports, and there were only so many days and hours in the week.
My dad told me I couldn't play for three different clubs at a time. I had to make a decision.
"At the start, when I was 10 years old, I played football, tennis, table tennis and basketball. Football was only in the school initially, tennis and basketball in clubs and table tennis with my father. When we played football at school, I was always really good and scored a lot of goals. I wanted to join a football club as well, but my father asked me what I actually wanted. He said I couldn't play for three different clubs at the same time. I had to make a decision and chose to try my luck in football."
The decision proved to be the right one. His path soon took him to Salzburg, where Junior joined the Red Bull Football Academy U15 team along with a certain Nici Seiwald.
"Nico was always a rather quiet guy, and he wasn't boarding like most of us. I hung out a lot back them with David Affengruber, who now plays for Sturm Graz, and we still have a chat group today with some of the old guys."
Our charming striker has plenty of interests away from the game. Junior takes the camera during our photoshoot and tries to take a few pictures himself, with fashion and modelling attracting him. A career after football is something Junior is already thinking about.
It's important for me to learn something and to be able to teach my children something in the future.
"I could be a designer or a technician. I like things like mobile phones and cameras. It's important for me to learn something, and to be able to teach my children something in the future. I love being well dressed – that's something I get from my father. I just love dressing the part and showing my style."
You can really sense Junior's enthusiasm for life. He is a man of conviction, with a cross always around his neck, while he almost always sports a beaming smile.
"Obviously when there is something important going on, I am always fully focused. Laughing gives me energy though. I am very grateful for what God has given me and always pray before I go out onto the pitch. I always say 'What God can’t do doesn’t exist'. When I can, I go to church almost every Sunday. During the season it is difficult though due to our matches and training."
The good thing is we can look forward to seeing Junior train and play in Salzburg for a while yet, even if there were rumours to the contrary over the summer.
I am proud to play here!
"There were discussions over the summer, and a few clubs wanted to sign me, but I made a conscious decision to stay here. I feel happy and want to keep developing here. I can get even stronger as time goes on and help the team. I have a lot of friends here, and my family are not far away. I went to the academy here, to school, and it has become my second home. I am proud to play here!"