Football World Champion: Benedikt Höwedes ends his professional career

The long-time Schalker captain and world champion Benedikt Höwedes quits – for family reasons. He attests professional football a “brutal” development.

The former world champion Benedikt Höwedes ends his football career. In a conversation with the Spiegel magazine, the defender named family reasons for his resignation. During a recent vacation, he noted, “How much I enjoyed experiencing my son up close and personal. Suddenly, football became so unimportant for me”. Even offers from several clubs could not have swayed him from his decision.

The long-time captain of FC Schalke 04, for whom Höwedes played from 2001 to 2018, had prematurely terminated his contract with Lokomotive Moscow a few weeks ago.

Höwedes took the end of his career as an occasion for clear criticism of modern professional football. It had “developed brutally”, he said. “…and at the same time distanced himself more and more from the normal fans. Something gets lost,” Höwedes told the Spiegel.

His memories of his departure from his home club Schalke in August 2017, after he was dismissed as captain by then-coach Domenico Tedesco and banned from the home team, are also less positive. “I knew the business was tough. But I had only ever seen the sunny side. Then I got the full broadside,” said Höwedes.

The highlight of his career was winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where he played all seven games as a left-back. Five years earlier, Höwedes had won the European Championship with the German U21 team.

Höwedes is, after André Schürrle, Roman Weidenfeller, Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose, already the seventh World Champion of Rio to draw a line under his belt. Schürrle had announced his resignation two weeks ago – he cancelled his contract with Borussia Dortmund. He was last on loan to Spartak Moscow. The decision had matured in him for a long time, he told the magazine “Der Spiegel”. “I don\’t need any more applause.”

In the interview, he also describes how he has fared in the football business in recent years. According to him, “only the performance on the pitch counts”. On the other hand, “vulnerability and weakness should not exist at any time”, says Schürrle.

In the interview he spoke about how he was often lonely, just when “the depths were getting deeper and deeper and the peaks less and less”. But the football industry did not allow him to show how he really felt. “You always have to play a certain role to survive in the business, otherwise you\’ll lose your job and won\’t get another one,” said Schürrle.

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