Hanover - In an age where flashy cars, cult status and pay checks with an enviable amount of zeros are the norm for professional footballers, few can claim to be as grounded as Hannover 96’s Manuel Schmiedebach.
‘I’d happily play without 50,000 people watching me’
Though he may not be a household name outside of Bundesliga circles, the 26-year-old has carved out a reputation as a top-flight player who has not let fame go to his head, but instead prefers to shirk the limelight in order to focus on putting his best foot forward where it matters: with family and football.
However, despite admitting “I don’t buy really expensive things out of principle”, not having a drivers’ licence and being willing to use the public transport system or return empty bottles to his local supermarket for a deposit, the Berlin native isn’t a fan of being cast in the ‘not your average footballer’ category.
His unique approach to a profession many dream of having has done nothing to take away from his love of the game, though. “Honestly, I’d happily have a kick-about in the street without 50,000 people watching me every weekend,” said Schmiedebach in an interview with German football magazine 11Freunde. “When I really want to play football, I’ll grab a ball and find a local pitch. There are always people who want to play there. They don’t recognise me at first, until someone asks: do you play for a club?”
Breaking the steroetypes of the modern footballer
Son of a German father and Colombian mother, Schmiedebach’s humility stems from a worldly perspective born of spending summers during his youth visiting his grandmother in Venezuela, garnering an appreciation for the priveleged lifestyle he leads in Germany even if it may not be, by choice, the most lavish.
“I know my roots, I know how to appreciate certain things, but I only ever spent six weeks there during the summer - I don’t have to live with these differences my whole life,” continued the bilingual midfielder. It’s perhaps those invaluable experiences, however, that may have resulted in the Reds’ unsung hero pursuing a career as a lawyer, had he not dropped out of school a year early in a bid to become a professional footballer.
“I’m the type of person, who doesn’t enjoy witnessing injustice,” mused Schmiedebach. “Even in the smaller things, whether they be in training or in our interactions with one another. That’s why that career path would have appealed to me.” For now though, he has “no reason to regret the decision”, but as to a future away from football Schmiedebach admits to not having a “concrete plan”. True to character, his focus, for now, remains solely on his primary passion, playing football in aid of Hannover 96’s cause and keeping his feet planted firmly on solid ground.