Preston North End defender Patrick Bauer will put sentiment to one side when he faces former club Charlton on Sunday
The fact that Charlton face Preston North End in the Championship on Sunday lunchtime owes much to Patrick Bauer.
Although the Addicks’ promotion push was by no means a one-man show, Bauer’s involvement was significant to say the least.
In the dying moments of the League One play-off final against Sunderland at Wembley, the German popped up in the box to score Charlton’s winner.
Bauer had not scored in his other 38 appearances that season, so it was the perfect moment for him to find his shooting boots.
That was his final touch of the ball in the red shirt of Charlton and a month later he signed for North End on a Bosman.
The central defender had come to the end of his contract in South London and felt the time was right for pastures new.
PNE manager Alex Neil wanted to add experience to his defence, with Bauer fitting the bill.
So at noon on Sunday, he will return to The Valley in Preston colours.
“I spent four good years at Charlton and last year we got promotion,” said Bauer as he looked ahead to the clash.
“I scored the winning goal at Wembley, which was good, and I still have a lot of friends at Charlton.
“It was a big decision to move away, not an easy one at all.
“But I’m happy about it, I took the decision, I took it after talking with my family.
“I’m here at Preston now and my aim is to be successful.
“After the play-off final I needed to get away and spend some time with my family in the summer as it had been a tough season.
“Once my agent told me Preston were interested, straight away I wanted to move up here.
“During my career I had played in Germany, Portugal and London, so just moving to another part of the country was no big change.”
Bauer has been a big hit at PNE so far, starting all 14 Championship games to date and forming a fine partnership at the back with Ben Davies.
The Preston fans love their ‘BFG’ – big friendly German – and have their own song for him.
Said Bauer: “I haven’t played that many games for Preston but the fans have their song already for me.
“I really appreciate that and I’m happy about it.”
Bauer is not surprised to see Charlton doing well in the Championship.
Going into the weekend they sit ninth in the table, three points behind the Lilywhites.
“Before the start of the season maybe people were writing them off because they had just come up,” said Bauer.
“But their recruitment has been spot-on and they have signed some really good players.
“I know from my time that the togetherness is very good, so for me it is not a surprise to see Charlton doing well.
“I think the thing which is similar between Alex Neil and Lee Bowyer, is the passion they have.
“They are passionate managers but they have different philosophies.”
Bauer and his Preston team-mates make the trip to the capital in decent shape.
Last week’s 3-2 victory against Blackburn Rovers lifted them into second place in the table.
That came on the back of a creditable 1-1 draw with Leeds, which saw them bounce back well from the 1-0 defeat at Reading a fortnight ago.
Bearing in mind that was an intense period, the clear week in the run-up to Charlton has been a welcome one.
“We started after the break with the Reading game when we conceded a goal late on,” Bauer said.
“Then we played Leeds and showed what we were all about. We wanted to win but we got a draw which wasn’t too bad.
“We then wanted to get a positive result against Blackburn but didn’t start the game well.
“In the end we came back from 2-0 down to get the three points.
“It was a tough week and we got four points.
“We weren’t overly happy because we aim to win every game. But this is the Championship and every point is important.
“The first 45 minutes against Blackburn we were terrible to be honest.
“Early doors we went 1-0 down and we didn’t get any better for a while after that.
“The gaffer switched it and in the second half you could see what a good side we are.
“We scored three goals and I was happy to get the win after being in such a difficult position.”
The Blackburn victory was an early birthday present for Bauer – he turned 27 on Monday.
“Because the next game is on Sunday, we had the day off last Monday, which was nice,” said Bauer.
“It was good to have a day off and spend it with my family.
“My little daughter is five-and-a-half months old now.
“Some of the family were over so it was a nice day. There were no wild celebrations, just nice and quiet.”