After joining the Reds on a permanent deal this summer following a highly successful loan spell which ended in promotion from Sky Bet League One, influential midfielder Mike Bähre is living his childhood dream.
The 23-year-old put pen to paper on a three-year deal in May, which will see him play Championship football for the first time, as Barnsley gear up to face recently relegated Fulham at Oakwell on Saturday.
And, after watching the two teams square off in the same competition at Craven Cottage almost two years ago, it is sure to be even more of a special occasion for Bähre, as he can’t wait to experience his first taste of Championship football.
“I still can’t believe it!” he said, about the prospect of playing Fulham this weekend.
“I remember, I was 22 and wasn’t fit to play, so whilst I was in London, I went to watch Fulham against Barnsley.
“I was really surprised at the atmosphere, and I remember thinking at the time; ‘Wow! It would be a dream come true to play in the Championship.’
“Now, just one and a half years later, all my dreams have come true. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it and I’m super excited!”
The versatile midfielder missed Barnsley’s final pre-season clash against Sheffield United last Saturday after picking up a knock during the club’s training camp in his native Germany, but insists he will be raring to go ahead of the season opener at Oakwell this weekend.
He went on to say: “I’m feeling good. I twisted my knee a little bit in Germany, but it’s better now, so I think I’ll be back fit and firing ready for Fulham.
“I’ve been out for a week and I didn’t want to risk it in the game against Sheffield United because it’s more important that I’m ready for the start of the new season.”
Whilst the team now prepare for the visit of Fulham, summer has provided the players with the chance to get vital minutes under their belts and regain key match fitness in both France and Germany, before a return to Oakwell rounded off proceedings.
And, with pre-season completed, Bähre believes the Reds’ are in good shape ahead of the highly anticipated new campaign.
“We’ve been back in training for a month now, everyone is feeling good and I feel as though we are all ready for the start of the season,” continued the German. “It’s the Championship and there aren’t many leagues better, so we’re we just need to go out there and enjoy it.”