Neven Subotić was German champion and cup winner with BVB, a fan favorite. But professional football means nothing to him anymore, at times he was even ashamed. Today he deals with relevant things.
Neven Subotić is not one to gossip about former colleagues or gossip about things he did himself that made him a lot of money. But when the former BVB star and Serbian national player is asked about football today, he says things like: “Football per se doesn’t interest me, but I’m happy for my former colleagues.” He no longer watches whole games, the 33-year-old now told the “Augsburger Allgemeine”, only the highlights, the goals. He now takes a very critical view of the sometimes surreal world of football professionals, which was also his for a long time. He has not yet officially ended his career, but he says he will not return to the field.
“Looking back, I’m ashamed that I sometimes lived so pointlessly back then,” Subotić said in an interview with the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”. The defender, who played not only for BVB but also for Mainz 05, 1.FC Köln and Union Berlin in the Bundesliga, is currently in all the newspapers because of his book “Give everything. Why the path to a fairer world with us begins” was published. Subotić has had its own foundation since 2012, which implements sanitation and well construction projects in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania. Almost 500 wells could have been built so far, “through them around 180,000 people have access to water and can thus realize one of their human rights,” said Subotic in an interview with the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung”. That, too, is just a start, he says. His foundation was recognized by the European Parliament in 2019.
Neven Subotić: Interests outside of football are not welcome
That the suggestion for such a commitment comes from the football scene is practically impossible. On the contrary. In football he had to justify himself. “If a player sits in front of his Playstation until late at night, that’s still considered pretty normal. But if you’re involved with things other than football, then some people think that performance suffers,” said Subotić to “FASZ”. . Many coaches would not like to see a player pursue interests outside of football.
The only exception: Jürgen Klopp, under whom Subotić trained in Mainz and Dortmund. “It takes human size to understand that football isn’t everything, that players are individuals and that everyone is allowed to be different. That sounds easy, but I’ve experienced a lot of taunts from other, worse coaches. That once again illustrates the greatness of Klopp.” Today’s Liverpool FC coach is undoubtedly the best football coach in the world. “He shows and lives real leadership and combines this with a very humane approach, is personable, empathetic and honest,” Subotić praised the coach.
“At the end of life, it’s not about whether I had fun”
In his time as a professional soccer player, he earned a lot of money, no longer had to worry about it – unlike in other phases of life – and also had a lot of fun during his career. But he has neither found lasting friendships nor developed personally or done anything he is proud of: “At the end of my life it’s not just about whether I had fun.” Subotić no longer has anything to do with the principle of competitive sport either: “I’m so pissed off because a lot of it is so irrelevant.”
The former professional, who was born in the former Yugoslavia, only upholds the principle of giving everything for a goal that competitive athletes know very well – and has therefore made it the title of his book. He is currently fully committed to the work for his foundation, with which he ensures clean drinking water in Africa. “Women and children are out and about for up to six hours a day hauling dirty water. You can imagine what happens if you drink contaminated water every day,” said the former defender to the “Augsburger Allgemeine”. Children would have to fetch water instead of being able to go to school. Subotić: “Education becomes a luxury and water becomes a duty.”
Glad to have been given a different perspective
A key experience for him was the visit to the first well project in Mozambique. “In the summer of 2013, I flew there with my boyfriend, Bobo, to see the project,” Subotić told FASZ. “On one side next to the well there were mud huts, on the other side there was a small airfield that was mainly used by private jets from large energy companies. For me, the injustice of this world was concentrated in one place.”
Neven Subotić has left behind the life of a professional footballer, in which the question no longer arises as to whether you really need all the luxury that you can easily afford. “I’m glad I had people around me who gave me a different perspective on things.”
Sources: “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung” (paid content); “Augsburger Allgemeine”; “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung” (paid content); DPA news agency