On the Spot: Neven Subotic | On the spot | DW | 06.02.2009
  1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages

On the spot

On the Spot: Neven Subotic

He is a true cosmopolitan. Born in Bosnia, Neven Subotic started his football in Florida. After playing for Mainz he followed his coach Jürgen Klopp to Dortmund. As a defender he is known for his offensive skills.


And that man is Neven Subotic. Dortmund's 20-year-old central defender is one of the best in the league. He was born in Bosnia and grew up in southern Germany and Florida. He's been a revelation in his first season in the Bundesliga -- at the back as well as up front.


As a defender is it special to score?

Neven Subotic

Sure. As a defender you rarely go on the attack or get a socring opportunity, or even a shot on goal. And when it does go in, it's ten times better than when a striker scores.

Why did you decide to become a defender?

I didn't. Most kids play every position and it was no different for me. I was a striker. I even played in goal once. But then when things became more serious, my coaches told me to play in defence because of my size. It was easier for me to win headers.

You've scored five goals - as many as striker Alexander Frei. How come?

It's down to luck. I'm not the strongest header of the ball in the league. There are many others who are bigger and can jump higher than me. So far it's been more about the set up, and I've been lucky that the ball dropped on MY head.

You once said that scoring headers is about willpower. What did you mean?

There are lots of players who jump but don't really want the ball. It's like when the ball's on the ground and a player doesn't really want it. It's because they're afraid that the pressure is on them to score. And then they miss, because they lack the quality. And with me, I basically throw myself in there. If I miss, then I miss, but at least I've taken on the header.

What do you think makes a modern defender?

I think you first have to establish what the old defenders are, the ones who aren't considered modern. They used to mark specific players. They were given a man to mark and they followed that player everywhere, making sure they didn't get the ball. Nowadays the game is a bit more sophisticated. And that requires the players to think a lot more about the game.

You don't always track players, you sometimes have to close down space...and that's a lot different to 10, 15, 20 years ago. I think the biggest change has been that central defenders are now part of the play. They get involved, they hit long balls and start attacks.

His market value is estimated at six and a half million euros. He's a fast learner and has quickly settled into top flight football. His former coach in Mainz brought him to Dortmund. The same coach who gave him his first contract, after a trial lasting just three minutes.

You came to Germany and started off with Jürgen Klopp in Mainz. Is he more than a coach to you? Is he like a father figure?

No not really. I often read in the paper that I'm his protege. But it's not like he says to me: "Neven watch out with the women! Or, do this and do that..."

He never says that?

No I think we're old enough to know what to do.

You followed your coach from Mainz to Dortmund. But it could've turned out differently. You almost went to Hoffenheim.

Yes I was in talks with Hoffenheim and I was on the verge of signing. I was just mulling over the move when I got a call from Jürgen Klopp. He asked me if I would come to Dortmund. For me, when I think of Dortmund I still think of 1997 and the team that won the Champions League. So I changed my mind and decided that I definitely wanted to go to Dortmund. Hoffenheim weren't very happy and I can understand that. But I think it was the right decision for me.

Neven was born in 1988 in what is now Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Aged just one-and-a-half, his family fled to Germany from the war.

They settled in the Black Forest. When he was 10, the German authorities wanted to send the family back to Bosnia.

Instead, they moved to the United States, to Florida. Neven lived there for five years and his soccer talent was spotted in a park.

"I was there having a kickabout and I saw a team and asked the coach if I could train with them. And he said that his players were two or three years older than me. So I said I knew the players because I'd played in the same team two years earlier. So he said, "ok, maybe you're not that bad.

His main job was as assistant coach to the American under 17s. And that was MY year group, so it was a lucky coincidence. Then he invited me for a trial and I was with the American team for a year and a half. It was a big step forwards. I learnt how to play football and the ins and outs of tactics.

Do you think that fate or luck have played a large role?

Well yes. There's no doubt that if I hadn't been in the park that day, things could've turned out differently. But maybe not. Maybe I'd still be living in the US and working at McDonald's. No-one really knows. It was fate in a way. But I also believe that someone up there sees that if you really work hard for something and are kind to people, then one day that kindness will be repaid.

Audios and videos on the topic