Lutz Pfannenstiel: A Globetrotting Soccer Player

Lutz Pfannenstiel isn't famous for his performances on the pitch, nor for having played for any famous teams. But, he's the only professional soccer player to have played in all six soccer-playing continents.
Lutz Pfannenstiel: A Globetrotting Soccer Player

Last update: 13 January, 2023

This sportsman has one of the most curious records in the world: having played for at least one team from each continent. He was also, for some years, the player who’d played for the most clubs. He even wrote a book about his sporting career. In this article, meet Lutz Pfannenstiel, the globetrotting soccer player.

The dizzying career of Lutz Pfannenstiel

Pfannenstiel was born in Zwiesel, West Germany, in May 1973 and has always been a goalkeeper. He’s the only player, so far, who played on at least one soccer team from each continent and from each confederation.

He started his career at FC Bad Kotzting in Germany in 1991 but was only there for two years. In 1993, he transferred to Penang FA in Malaysia and played there for one season. He then traveled to England, where he played first at Wimbledon and later at Nottingham Forest (1994 to 1997).

In 1996, he moved to the Orlando Pirates in South Africa and a year later he moved to Asia. There, he would spend a few months playing for Sembawang Rangers of Singapore. Following this, he returned to Europe, this time to Norway, where he played for three teams, TPV Tampere, FC Haka, and PK Islami between 1997 and 1998.

After his stint in Norway, he returned to his native country to play for Wacker Burghausen, but that very same year he joined Geylang United in Singapore. In 2001, a continent was waiting for him, and he moved to Dunedin Technical in New Zealand, where he played for two years until 2003.

Return to England and passing through America

After leaving Oceania, he settled in England, this time to play on loan at two clubs: Bradford Park Avenue and Huddersfield Town. In 2002, he returned to the German club ASV Cham, but that same year he returned to Bradford Park Avenue.

In 2003, he was part of the Baerum SK team in Norway and in 2004 he traveled to North America, after being signed by the Calgary Mustangs in Canada. Before the end of the year, he was already in other latitudes, playing for Otago United in New Zealand until 2006.

His next three teams would be KS Vilaznia Shkoder (Albania), FC Bentonit Ijevan (Armenia), and again at Baerum SK (Norway). In 2007, he returned to Canada, this time to the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Lutz Pfannenstiel making a save.

A year later, he arrived in South America to play for Atlético Aichinger in Brazil. But before the end of the year, he moved to Norway to play first for FK Floy and then for Manglerud Star. He finished his career at Ramblers FC in Namibia, where he was a member of the backroom staff between 2009 and 2011.

Overall, this means that Lutz Pfannenstiel has played for 25 teams in 15 different countries, six confederations, five continents, all in the space of 20 years. In all that time, he won just a single title with FC Haka in Finland, in 1998.

Coaching career

His globetrotting tendency doesn’t seem to be limited to his playing career either. He apparently seems to be continuing this pattern as a coach. The first team he coached was FC Bentonit Ijevan in Armenia, where he played in 2007.

A year later, he was hired as an assistant at Flekkeroy IL in Norway. That same year he became the goalkeeping coach for the Cuban national team, and in 2009 he became a goalkeeping coach for Manglerud Star in Norway.

During 2009 and 2010, he divided his time between several coaching jobs. These included coaching Ramblers FC in Namibia, being an assistant coach for the Namibian national team, and being a manager and goalkeeping coach for Antarctica XI (the only continent he never played in).

In 2011, he became head of international relations for 1899 Hoffenheim. This would be the longest time he would stay in a position, staying there from 2011 to 2018. Since 2019, he’s been the sporting director at Fortuna Dusseldorf in Germany.

Other curious facts about Lutz Pfannenstiel

If all his teams weren’t enough, there are a few more interesting facts about the German goalkeeper. Firstly, during his stay in Singapore, he was imprisoned for almost four months for alleged match-fixing and gambling. However, the authorities later released him due to a lack of evidence and cleared him of the charges.

Lutz Pfannenstiel sitting down and holding a soccer ball.
Image: El Diario de Hoy

Then, in 2002, he fell into a three-hour coma after colliding with an opponent whilst playing for Bradford Park Avenue in England. They almost declared him dead on the playing field.

Finally, in October 2009 he released his autobiography entitled, The Unstoppable Keeper. During the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, he worked as a commentator for a German TV network. This man has indeed had some real adventures!

Cover image courtesy of Summary Sports.

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