38 - Ron-Robert Zieler Profile

Born in Cologne, Zieler began his football career with his hometown club, 1. FC Köln, before joining Manchester United as a trainee in July 2005. In his first season with the club, he played 22 times for the Under-18 side, including four in the FA Youth Cup. He was also named as an unused substitute in 11 reserve matches, including the final of the Manchester Senior Cup, earning him a winners medal. The following season, he shared Under-18 goalkeeping duties with Ben Amos, but also made his debut for the reserves on 15 March 2007, a 3–0 home defeat to Sheffield United. Despite that inauspicious start, he made amends four days later by keeping a clean sheet in the 2–0 Manchester Senior Cup win over Oldham Athletic. The 2007–08 season marked Zieler's emergence as a full member of the reserve team, as he and Tom Heaton shared the majority of the goalkeeping duties, each making 11 appearances. In May 2008, Zieler won another Manchester Senior Cup winners medal, as he played the full 90 minutes and kept a clean sheet against Bolton Wanderers. He then played in the final of the Lancashire Senior Cup at the end of July 2008, restricting Liverpool to just two goals as United won 3–2.

At the start of the 2008–09 season, Zieler was given a first team squad number – 38 – for the first time. He got his first taste of first team action on 23 September 2008, when he was named on the bench for United's 3–1 League Cup win over Middlesbrough. On 26 November 2008, he was sent on loan to Northampton Town until 31 December as cover for their one senior goalkeeper, Chris Dunn, as Frank Fielding's loan from Blackburn Rovers was coming to an end. The loan was subsequently extended until 31 January 2009, and then extended again on 2 February until 25 February.

Zieler made his debut for Northampton Town on 21 February 2009, playing for the full 90 minutes of the Cobblers' 2–0 home defeat by Walsall. He then played again three days later, in a 1–1 draw away to Brighton & Hove Albion, before returning to Manchester United on 26 February 2009 after his loan spell reached 93 days. The loan could not be extended as 93 days is the maximum loan spell allowed outside the transfer window. Upon returning to Manchester United, Zieler recommenced his duties as reserve team goalkeeper, conceding just one goal in his first four games back. However, in a match against Newcastle United Reserves on 30 March 2009, he suffered a broken arm after colliding with a Newcastle striker in mid-air. The injury will be further assessed on 1 April 2009.

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