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EM 2024: The childhood dream of professional football has been shattered

EM 2024: The childhood dream of professional football has been shattered
EM 2024: The childhood dream of professional football has been shattered

Do you feel old when Wusiala casts a spell over the European Championship? Understandably. Few things bring your own mortality to the fore as mercilessly as a major football tournament. Time to say goodbye to a childhood dream. But don’t worry: you are not alone. Our author feels for you.

Are you over 30? Then please close Facebook for a moment (preferably forever) and listen. You have to be very strong now. Ready? No? Never mind, too late. Watch out:

You will no longer be a professional football player.

So, now it’s out. It hurts at first, of course. But hey! Chin up – you are not alone. For me too, the start of this European Championship is finally a, oh what, the Childhood dream shattered. The last time, when I was 27, I said to myself: “Now you’re at the best age for a footballer, go for it!” Today, at 31, I would be “experienced” at best, and at worst Tom Bartels and Almuth Schult would be amazed “that he can still sprint like that at that age!”

EM Generation Wusiala: The future takes over

Yes, the ravages of time are not just gnawing at me these days. With the bite force of an uncastrated Rottweiler, they are tearing apart my already faint hopes of a life as a lawn god.

This month has been an emotional rollercoaster for me. When Musiala and Wirtz, the future of German football, got their first taste of the European Championship in Munich, I almost created a TikTok account and installed Fortnite as a displacement activity. But I don’t want to kid myself anymore. The last bit of green behind my ears peeled off at some point between my first paycheck and my last shared flat party.

But what’s a decade anyway? Maybe I’ll still make it to the big football stage. After all, I wouldn’t start from scratch. In my youth, I “played at Bundesliga level”. Oh, you too? Look at how small the professional world is. Was it a knee injury for you too? Or the first cigarette? I don’t know exactly. As I get older, my memory suffers.

I find myself thinking things like, “It’s crazy how small shin guards are these days.” NowadaysAs if the word “crass” wasn’t cringe enough. Or is cringe already cringe? I left the realm of the intentionally misunderstood long ago. I’m heading straight for the island of the “do-you-still-say-that-Soaners”, from whose shore Susanne Daubner waves happily at me.

The thought of public viewing gives me back pain

Watching this European Championship is also somehow different. In the past, there was shouting and drinking beer, now there was silence and Sodastream. If a faint sound of joy escapes at a particularly impressive Wusial trick, the friend, a coffee table coaster away, puts his index finger to his lips in warning. Pssst. His little daughter is sleeping next door.

But what should I do? Go out? Watch in a group? Just the thought of public viewing gives me back pain. And besides, I wouldn’t be home until late – and I have to work tomorrow, earn money, be an adult. While I’m googling the symptoms of lumbago, a 16-year-old Spanish teenager named Yamal is breaking the youth law by keeping the European Championship dream of an entire nation alive after 11 p.m. And he has to get up early the next morning too. First maths lesson.

Plan B: a Rhenish Thomas Müller

Physically, a life as a professional footballer no longer seems very desirable to me.

When I see Niclas Füllkrug, who is about the same age as me, sitting on the bench, fidgety and hungry for every minute of exercise, I see a different species. If I were threatened with substitution, I would let out a respectable dad noise when I pulled myself together, despite the lack of offspring – a distinctive sound somewhere between a badly oiled garden gate and a pronounced sigh of world-weariness.

No, if I had to start a late-night show, I’d rather be a kind of Rhinelander, Thomas Müller. Broadcasting from the sidelines and then cracking a cheeky joke into the camera? I can see myself doing that.

Bastian Schweinsteiger – legend on the ball and comb

Maybe I’ll just skip the “active” football career and go straight to being a coach. It can’t be that difficult. Let’s be honest: They only put their starting eleven together the night before using the FIFA player ratings on the Playstation. Add a few rough edges, a pinch of approachability and the vague promise of a vision – and you have the cult coach. “The Normal One” is a thing of the past. I would be “The One”! Sounds catchy, saves printer ink. Disadvantage: everyone would know better than me. It’s not going to come to that. Who was a professional footballer? They or me? Ah, right.

Then plan C: I’ll leave all this nonsense behind and earn my Bitcoins as an expert. Being a smartass is related to my current job anyway. And in my 30s, I’m still one of the young wild ones on TV who exceed expectations simply because they use a smartphone with more than one finger at a time and no longer refer to the Internet as “the net.”

Ilkay Gündogan and Robert Andrich celebrate the goal to make it 2-0 in the European Championship group match against Hungary

Gündoğan and Musiala also whirl against Hungary – all highlights in the video

06:00 min

There are enough role models. When Bastian Schweinsteiger, who stepped out of an Ansons catalogue, pours the nation the pure sporting truth with a mint-fresh Colgate smile and doesn’t even allow himself to be rushed by little things like the “Tagesschau” in his statements, I am fascinated. Not just by the razor-sharp analysis, but by that hair. By its color, an expensive Gorch Fock gray that makes Clooney look old and whose roots go deeper than the anchor of an oil tanker in the Mariana Trench. A legend, the man. With the ball and with the comb.

To new shores

But it’s not all the same. Football pro, that’s what it said in my Diddl friends book. Not a bench warmer, not a trainer, not an expert. A hero in socks, that was the plan. When I was twelve, I promised that to everyone who wanted to hear it (or didn’t want to hear it). Although: I also wanted to be a knight back then. So: I’ll learn to ride by the time I’m 40. I promise.

Source: Stern

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