Step 100: Kicker


Illustration by Robert M. Schöne

If you spend a lot of time in bars, or workplaces, it’s very likely that you’ve been asked by your German friends to join them in a game of Kicker or Tischfußball (table-top football). You might have though that this was a simple, friendly request. It was not. It was booby-trapped. It was a Trojan friendship horse. Probably you said yes, didn’t you?Then something happened, didn’t it? Yes, it did. It’s okay—you can talk about it. We’re all friends here. It happened to us too…

You got absolutely humiliated. Drubbed. Humbled. Defeated.

Didn’t you?

Because, it turns out, Germans are really good at Kicker. So when one asks you, “Do you want to play Kicker?” what they really mean is, “Do you want me to destroy you at Kicker? You should see this step-over thing I can do. I’ll only play with one hand if you want. I’m going to continue celebrating every goal, even the tenth of the 10-0 victory. You will not recover from the shame for weeks.”

Now, having learnt this, the obvious thing to do is to never play Kicker again. When they ask, look disparaging at your arm, then tell them about your bad case of Kicker elbow. But this is cheating. If we want to be like them, and they are good at Kicker, we must also develop flair and aptitude for manipulating little men on rods. First, some advice: Don’t just start playing. That’s a rookie mistake. Contrary to popular opinion, the best way to learn to swim is not to fall off the back of a boat. In order to match them, you must learn to think like them. Begin by learning the rules of the game. Buy a book on effective Kicker. That’s what they would do. Now, highlight it. Perhaps enrol in a VHS course. Thirty-one weeks, € 40. Or study YouTube technique videos. Perform wrist-strengthening exercises during your quiet moments. Pretend you’re the Karate Kid—wax on, wax off.

Now you are ready. However, do not—I repeat, do not—just go challenge any random German adult who happens to be nearby. That’s like challenging Jesse James to a gunfight, or Salvador Dalì to a paint-off. Begin, first, with a small German child. Perhaps a child with just one arm, or other physical disadvantages such as not being tall enough to reach the handles. While this child will already be able to beat you by the age of five, you will at least get to touch the ball, perhaps—more by luck than judgment. You might even score a goal. This is important for your confidence. From there, you can slowly advance the age of your opponent—and reduce their physical handicap—until you’re ready to accept the Kneipe challenge of random (most likely male) German adolescents. You will lose soundly, of course. That’s a given. But you may not totally humiliate yourself. They might let you score an own goal. Perhaps, when you shake hands with them afterwards, their smile won’t be too pitying. This is all you can hope for.



Required reading for all Ausländer and Germans who sometimes have the feeling they don’t understand their own country. We learn why the Germans speak so freely about sex, why they are so obsessed with Spiegel Online and why they all dream of being naked in a lake of Apfelsaftschorle. At the end, the only thing left to say to Adam Fletcher’s love letter to Germany is “Alles klar!” More than 100k copies sold!

Released: 2013   Length: 192 pages  Languages: EN/DE  Publisher: C.H. Beck Illustrator: Robert M. Schöne


An illustrated love letter to the language of our adopted home. Join us as we take you on a tour through some of the German language’s greatest words, expressions, proverbs and language possibilities, all wrapped up for international delivery in the form of Denglisch!

Released:  2014    Length:  240 pages       Languages:  EN/DE     Publisher: Ullstein   Co-Author: Paul Hawkins    Illustrator: Robert M. Schöne

After two best-selling books I find I’ve become somewhat of a pundit for German life. Unsure about my position I take on a series of integration challenges. Readers will learn:

  • What happens when someone of no musical talent creates a Schlager song.
  • Why you shouldn’t accept a ride from a Mitfahrgelegenheitvan containing a mattress and a cat with one eye.
  • What watching seventy hours of German TV in a week does to your health.
  • Why you shouldn’t attend a Schützenfest if you can neither drink nor march.

Released: 2015  Length: 400 pages  Languages: EN/DE Publisher: Ullstein.

Fifty new and advanced integration steps that explain the sticky friendship glue of Kaffee und Kuchen, the educational superiority of wood, and the rituals of the German Weihnachtsmarkt. You’ll learn how to blame the weather for most of your ailments, how to survive a visit to your local Baumarkt, why Germans take their kitchen when they move, and why you keep losing to them at table football. Adam Fletcher’s book is the ultimate, irreverent love letter to a nation that has gotten so under his skin.

Released: 2016  Length: 192 pages  Languages: EN/DE  Publisher: C.H. Beck Illustrator: Robert M. Schöne