Star power German bank drafts ex-player to boost its soccer business

Once a headstrong midfielder, now a banker. An unusual switch for someone who once played on the national team and helped his pro club win the Champions League.
Quelle: DPA
My next goals will be purely financial ones.
(Source: DPA)

Stefan Effenberg, who played for the German national soccer team and won the Champions League with Bayern Munich in 2001, has embarked on a surprising new career for a former sports star: banker.

He will work in the corporate clients department of VR Bank Bad Salzungen Schmalkalden, said a spokesman for the cooperative bank, which is based in the eastern state of Thuringia.

“We have been exchanging views with Herr Effenberg on the subject of football financing for some time,” the spokesman told the website Finanz-Szene.de. “The outcome of these discussions is that Stefan Effenberg will be a part of our ‘Corporate Customers Competence Team Football’.”

The extent of Effenberg’s future duties wasn't made public, but the job is clearly not a marketing gag or a figurehead position. Effenberg will be a regular employee under a normal contract, the spokesman said.

The bank has a sizeable soccer portfolio. According to newsmagazine Der Spiegel, it granted a €10 million ($11.3 million) loan to highly-indebted Spanish top-flight club Atletico Madrid. Finanz-Szene.de reported that football investments make up 17 percent of the bank’s lending, and that Atletico and German second-division club 1. FC Köln are among its loan recipients.

Scoring with contacts

Effenberg, 50, who had an unsuccessful six-month stint as coach of German second-division SC Paderborn before being fired in 2016, explained his new job to the T-Online news portal.

“It’s about the financing and intermediate financing of transfers or, for instance, alterations to a stadium. With my experience and my contacts in sports, I want to help take the right decisions on where we provide financial support,” the former soccer celebrity said. “I am happy and proud that I can work there."

Effenberg, who was named UEFA Player of the Year in 2001, was a talented but headstrong midfielder who at times courted controversy. In 1994, he was banned from the national team for showing the finger to Germany fans who booed the team’s lackluster performance in the World Cup. He amassed more than 100 yellow cards in the Bundesliga, Germany’s top league – a record he still holds.

Jannik Deters is a contributor to Handelsblatt and Tagesspiegel. David Crossland adapted this article into English for Handelsblatt Today. To contact the author: j.deters@handelsblattgroup.com

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