Kevin Grosskreutz, a member of Germany's 2014 World Cup-winning team, has agreed to join the Bundesliga's bottom club Darmstadt in the summer. This comes just weeks after he said he wanted to take a break from the game.
The 28-year-old defensive midfielder had his contract with second division side VfB Stuttgart terminated in March after ending up in hospital following a night out with some of the club's youth players. In the wake of the incident, the former Borussia Dortmund player stated his desire to take a break from professional football.
But now, Darmstadt coach Torsten Frings has been able to change the former national team player's mind.
"Torsten Frings paid a lot of attention to me and, together with others at the club, convinced me that this is the right step for me," Grosskreutz said after signing a contract from this summer until June 2019. "I can't wait to join Darmstadt and, like at all my previous clubs, I will do everything I can to help the team succeed."
With the Lillies 14 points adrift of safety in the Bundesliga, coach Frings is already preparing for life in the second division next season. He himself reportedly turned down offers from England's second-tier Championship, opting to instead commit to Darmstadt and believes Grosskreutz can play a key role at the club.
"Kevin is an incredibly experienced player who has won the World Cup and played at the very highest level," he said in a statement. "In our discussions, I could feel how excited he was about this new challenge. Both in a sporting sense and as a character, he will be a cornerstone of our team next season."
Grosskreutz's escapades in Stuttgart were just the latest in a string of controversies which have dogged him throughout his career. He was fined 50,000 euros ($53,000) by Borussia Dortmund for urinating in a hotel lobby after the 2014 German Cup final and in a separate incident was accused of throwing a kebab at a fan in Cologne.
On social media, he has frequently made jokes about controversial Bundesliga newcomers RB Leipzig, suggesting that "even Schalke will win the league before RB become a traditional club." He also joked last summer that he planned to sign for the Red Bull-backed club because "money talks."