At Tales From Sport, We believe in giving athletes the platform to tell their stories first-hand. Of course, fans of any sports will always have their own opinion on what a players greatest moment was, but does that player feel the same? Or is there another, more personal moment that stands above all others?
In this series, we will be asking professional athletes from various sports one simple question, What do you consider the greatest moment of your career?
In the very first edition of this series, We will find out what moment Professional American Football player Keanu Ebanks considers the greatest of his career.
‘My Greatest Moment in Sport’ by Keanu Ebanks
It’s not the easiest question to answer if I’m being honest; there was the blocked Field goal in 2014 against Leeds Beckitt University, which won us the game in the dying seconds. There was that game in 18 against Kiel,” 19 Speed Option” was the play-call, walkoff touchdown to secure our place in the GFL Bundesliga for one more year. Even the first game of the ELF season, the Field Goal winner by Phillip Andersen to beat Frankfurt with 4 seconds left on the clock is up there. I also would be remiss to not mention the invites to both the NFL International and CFL Global combines. Both were huge individual accomplishments and something extremely proud of.
However, my greatest moment in sport was with the Hildesheim Invaders in 2019, Dresden at home in the Invaders Stadium, the date was June 6th. The Dresden Monarchs have been a perennial powerhouse in the GFL 1 since the early 2000s, often reaching the playoffs but never quite getting the job done. Hildesheim, on the other hand, had only recently been promoted to the top division and were seen as the whipping boys of the top league throughout their stay. 2019 was a little different however, Hildesheim had amassed some of the most talented players Europe had to offer and were determined to change their fate.
A little more background, at this point in the season, we are the highest-scoring offence in the league, averaging something stupid like 45ppg with over 400 yards of offence per game. In the first half of the Dresden game, you would not think this. We can’t do anything on offence, 3 and out after 3 and out, turnovers, tackles for loss, you name the offensive inadequacy, and that was us. We manage to eke out a touchdown in the 2nd quarter but go into half down 20:7.
We leave the field and gather as a team behind the field, in the usual spot in a child play area. I go to the bathroom and overhear some Dresden player talking, “How are we going to party on the bus back?” “What have you go to drink?” “Let’s finish this game quick so we can go home”. Now I’m fully aware that trash talk goes on in American Football, if anything, I welcome it! But hearing such a lack of respect for my teammates and coaching staff was the spark that lit the fire under me. I relayed what I heard back to the team, and after some halftime speeches, we were ready to go.
If you read a book about the second half of that game, you would put it down for being unrealistic. We played with our heads on fire. We left it all on the field. We manage to score 3 more times on offence, 1 field goal and 2 touchdowns. Our hurry-up offence got their defence on their heels. I remember vividly marching down the field with around 8 minutes after a fumble from their back. Hands were on hips, and their defensive line basically stopped rushing! We scored and went to the sideline. Now it’s the defence’s turn. I believed in my heart that if we could get the ball back just one more time on offence, we win the game. We refused to be stopped.
It didn’t come to that. The defence gets a stop and the offence punts the ball….straight to Nathanial Morris. To this day, I don’t know what the special teams’ coordinator/ punter was thinking when they made that decision, but I’m glad they did. The ball drops into Nate’s arms, he weaves and dodges defenders, and our blockers are putting guys on the ground. He gets to the sideline and a free lane …Touchdown!!! The entire stadium is rocking, chants of “Whose house ??? Our House!!!!” are filling the air, the fans are going crazy, the players are going crazy, sh*t, even the coaches are going crazy.
We get the PAT and kick the ball back to them. They still have a minute to go down the field and score. They threw a pick on the 3rd play and were return it to the 5.
Offence goes back out for the best formation in football, Victory formation. 2 Kneels, and the game is over, Hildesheim 31:27 Dresden. Dresden are shocked. Hell, most of German football is shocked. The Invaders were not. I have a lot of good football left in me, and there’s sure to be even more great moments, but I will never forget that day in Hildesheim when those men in Lower Saxony went to the battle with the big dogs and came out victorious.
Keanu Ebanks Biography
Keanu Ebanks is one of the finest offensive linemen that Europe has to offer. The Englishman currently halts the continent’s best pass-rushers and expertly protects his quarterback for the Hamburg Sea Devils in the European League of Football. Before joining the ELF, the 6’6 300-pound athlete previously starred in the Sweedish Superserien for the Stockholm Mean Machines and the German Football League for the Hildesheim Invaders.
The University of Hull was where he got his first taste of the sport. The Leeds native featured on both sides of the ball, making him a two-way star on the offensive and defensive lines. He helped guide the Sharks to a north division title, defeating the top British university program, Leeds Becket, along the way. Ebanks played a massive role in that victory, blocking a crucial field goal to seal the win for his side.
After university, Ebanks set his sights on joining the GFL. It is notoriously tricky for British players to get noticed by any significant team in Germany, so the former Shark created a Europlayers account and messaged every team in Germany personally. Hildesheim were impressed enough by the Brtish university star and decided to bring him in for a workout later that year.
After months of waiting for the Invaders to determine whether they would take him on, Ebanks almost signed for a team in France. However, just before they could officially agree on a contract, Hildesheim finally came back with an offer. The two parties agreed terms, and Ebanks joined the Invaders for the 2018 GLF season.
It was during his time in Lower Saxony where Ebanks shifted his focus solely to the offensive line. In his debut season, the Invaders, in just their third season in Germany’s top flight since 1991, avoided relegation after finishing 7th with a 4-10 record. However, the following campaign was a turning point for Hildesheim.
Ebanks, who had bulked up since his first season, truly began to flourish at left tackle in 2019. His fantastic ability to protect his quarterback and stuff pass-rushers was crucial in the Invaders newfound offensive success. The attacking unit averaged 29.5 points per game throughout the 14 game campaign, a vast increase from the 10.36 from a year prior.
With their offence firing, Hildesheim managed to flip their record from 2018, going 10-4 and securing playoff football for the first time in the club’s history by finishing third in the North Division. But, unfortunately, Ebanks and his team’s fantastic season would come to an end in the quarterfinals of the playoffs, falling to the Frankfurt Universe. Still, the impressive transformation the team went through cannot be understated, with Ebanks playing a lead role in the Invaders change of fortune.
Ebanks’ outstanding performances did not go unnoticed. Shortly after the season had ended, he was contacted by the NFL International Player Pathway program and invited to the NFL Global combine in Cologne, Germany. The British offensive lineman had the chance to display his athletic abilities, scary strength and high Football IQ in front of top NFL scouts. The two-time Pro Bowler and 2001 Dave Rimington Trophy winner LeCharles Bently, who, as of 2021, is the NFL’s Senior advisor of player performance and development, was also in attendance for the combine.
Later that year, Ebanks reached out to the British ambassador for the CFL in the UK, sending him film from the NFL combine and declaring his interest in attending the CFL Global combine. The former Hull Shark managed to impress the ambassador enough to receive an invite to the combine in January 2020. Once again, Ebanks showcased his skills in front of some of the best scouts in the game, continuing to enhance his ever-growing reputation in the process.
Due to the global pandemic in 2020, the GFL and CFL cancelled their seasons. This turbulent period threatened to halt the outstanding progress Ebanks had managed to make over the past year. However, he refused to let that happen. Since the Sweedish Superserien decided to continue their season as planned, a determined Ebanks managed to contact the Stockholm Mean Machines head coach Fredrik Pilbäck, offering his services to the most decorated American Football team in Sweden. After just two days from their first conversation, Ebanks officially signed for the Mean Machine on August 3rd 2020.
During his solo year in Sweden, Ebanks and the Mean Machine finished the regular season with a 5-1 record, topping the Superserien Herr and advancing to the playoffs. The Englishman once again managed to deliver an impressive season, helping his side score an average 29 points per game. In the semifinals of the playoffs,
Stockholm dismantled the Uppsala 86ers 41-6 to secure their spot in the Superserien finals. Unfortunately, The Mean Machine could not get their hands on their 12 title as the Carlstad Crusaders edged them out in a heartbreaking 14-12 loss.
Following the conclusion of the Superserien season, Ebanks signed to the Hamburg Sea Devils in the newly established European League of Football, the premier league of American football in Europe. As of writing this, the former Hildesheim Invader has had an awe-inspiring start in the ELF, helping his team remain undefeated after three games and currently sit on top of the Division North.
An enormous thank you to Keanu Ebanks for this article. We are honoured to have him as our first professional athlete contributor. He has been incredibly helpful and supportive of our site and has been genuinely a great guy. The effort he put into this was incredible. I honestly could not ask for more. We will be supporting his career as much as possible. All of us at Tales From Sport is completely invested and have been enjoying the journey thus far.
We have watched every one of his games this season and have been live-tweeting them on our Twitter. If you are interested in watching him play, sign up for the European League of Football Season Pass or Game Pass on their website, europeanleague.football
Ebanks will next be in action THIS SUNDAY, as the Hamburg Sea Devils take on the Leipzig Kings at 2 pm GMT/3 pm CET/10 am EST/ 7 am PST.