"Whoever wants to see real problems doesn’t have to go to Mars,“ says Neven Subotic, "they exist in this world". He deals with things instead of beating around the bush. When he was suffering from a severe knee injury in November 2013, he used the time, aside from his training, to help those less fortunate. Through his foundation, Subotic supports children in need.
"Prosperity and security cannot be taken for granted," he says, "and we who live in abundance have a commitment to the most vulnerable members of society, which in most countries of the world are the children".
Subotic‘s involvement is no coincidence. The 26-year-old can look back on an eventful life. At a young age his family fled the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina to the town of Pforzheim. As their residency permit expired in Germany, they moved to the USA in 1999. Ironically, in the land of baseball, American football and basketball, he went on to be a football star in the college team of the University of South Florida. He made his debut for the junior national team of the United States on 15 December 2005 against Australia, where he even managed the winning goal.
He didn‘t have to wait long for his next career move. As a 16 year old, Subotic moved back to Germany all on his own, this time to play for FSV Mainz, where he was put in central defence. Here he could quickly move up the ranks. On the final day of the 2006/07 season he made his debut in a Bundesliga match against Bayern Munich. As Jürgen Klopp moved to Borussia Dortmund in 2008, Subotic chose the same path.
In Dortmund, he experienced a steep ascent. The manager of the national team fought over Subotic, who had several options because of his American, Bosnian and Serbian citizenship, but on 28 March 2009, he finally opted for Serbia in a World Cup qualifier against Romania and was part of the national team at the World Cup in 2010. Three years later, however, tragedy struck. In a Bundesliga game against VfL Wolfsburg on 9 November 2013, he ruptured the posterior cruciate ligament and the medial collateral ligament in his right knee, and his posterior capsule also went under reconstruction. But the professional footballer did not dwell on this and devoted himself to the work of his foundation instead.
Here in Dortmund, he feels at home. "Dortmund is a very beautiful city that offers everything you need. Home games in front of 80,000 people are pretty unique". Playing for the Black and Yellows, he celebrated winning two championships and the German Cup in an exuberant manner that’s never before been seen by a top player in the history of the league. The video, which shows him dancing on the roof of his car in front of fans after having the title win in 2011, is legendary, and serves as a powerful symbol of the unusual affinity that still prevails in Dortmund between the fan base and its admired professionals.
On the pitch, Subotic is far less of a joker. He smashes opposing attacks with brutal consequences.That he able to free himself from worry when playing, hit 30m passes, can curl the ball and deep in the half of his opponent finalise, adds to the picture of this modern-style defender.
In his private life, Subotic is calm and easygoing, with plenty of charm and charisma. If he wants to have peace and quiet, the defender clamps on his oversized headphones or cruises through Europe in his camper van with his three best friends. Or he takes care of the poorest of the poor.