"Hope they don’t see us again": The summer break from the point of view of an unemployed football professional

Melvyn Lorenzen (on the ball) here in the Bremen game against Bayern in March 2016.Image: IMAGO / Schreyer / IMAGO / Schreyer

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08/04/2022, 16:5304.08.2022, 17:01

Luke Grybowski
Nikolai Stubner

In March 2016, Melvyn Lorenzen played one more half for Werder Bremen against FC Bayern Munich. The opponents for the now 27-year-old are currently SV Quitt Ankum, KFC Uerdingen and Eintracht Rheine. Lorenzen is currently without a club and is completing the training camp of the Association of Contract Footballers (VDV).

While the preparations for Bundesliga pros are over and the season begins at the weekend, the participants in the current VDV training camp are still worried about their future. 15 players without a contract are being coached by former Bundesliga coach Peter Neururer. They complete training sessions and compete in friendlies, similar to how the professional clubs are doing in the current preparation.

During his coaching career, Peter Neururer coached Bochum, Hannover 96 and Cologne, among others.

During his coaching career, Peter Neururer coached Bochum, Hannover 96 and Cologne, among others.Image: IMAGO / Markus Endberg / IMAGO / Markus Endberg

The goal: the players should sign a contract with a club again – according to statements by the VDV, an average of 80 percent of the participants manage this. Lorenzen is one of those participants hoping for that.

In an interview with watson, the striker now talks about his current situation, the past and his goals and aspirations for a future in professional football.

14 Bundesliga games for Werder Bremen

“It’s never been the case in my career that everything went smoothly. It doesn’t matter whether it was injuries or people who didn’t see me in professional football. There was a point in my youth when I stopped playing football wanted”, Lorenzen begins to answer the first question in the interview.

Then he adds that his situation often changed very quickly for the better. Since the age of eleven he has been through various youth teams from Oldenburger SV, Holstein Kiel and then ended up at Werder Bremen II in 2013.

From 2015 to 2017 he was even part of the Bremen professional squad and played twice against FC Bayern. In a total of 14 appearances in the Bundesliga, he was able to celebrate one goal. Nevertheless, Bremen let the contract expire in the summer of 2017. Lorenzen’s bad luck: injuries kept slowing him down. Sometimes he missed more than 100 days because of meniscus problems, then cartilage damage forced him to take a break of almost a year.

“No one wants to prepare for the fact that one day they might not have a club. You learn that with experience.”

Melvyn Lorenzen on the experience of being unemployed as a professional footballer

After his time in Bremen, he remained without a club for almost three weeks, but quickly found a new club for two years with ADO Den Haag in the first Dutch league. After that he was initially without a contract, even for two and a half months before signing in Ukraine with Karpaty Lviv for almost three months until the end of the season.

At the beginning of the corona pandemic, he was again without a club and remained so for more than a year and a half. It was only when he signed again for almost three months in Ireland with Sligo Rovers in August 2021 that he was back in the professional business.

Lorenzen has no financial problems even without a club

Until then, Lorenzen was looking for a club. He explains why he stayed until this summer: “I didn’t want a club at all costs in spring because then I would have arrived in the middle of the season and I would have been in a similar situation to Ireland. So my plan was to be fit for this summer.”

Lorenzen came to Ireland during the season and took two weeks to get used to. After that, according to the 26-year-old, the team was successful and the coach didn’t want to change the starting line-up – to the chagrin of Lorenzen, who was only used seven times.

Melvyn Lorenzen during his time at The Hague

Melvyn Lorenzen during his time at The HagueImage: IMAGO / Pro Shots / IMAGO / Pro Shots

Today, Lorenzen deals better with being unemployed. He was nervous, especially the first time. “You get very impatient. The clubs start training, they sign players. All of a sudden a club is interested in you and a few days later they decide on another one. Something like that scares you,” reports Lorenzen.

At the same time, the right footer did not feel prepared for the time as a footballer without an employer: “Nobody wants to prepare themselves for not having a club. You learn that with experience. The first time I felt it was worse than you can imagine. But in the end it’s not that bad.”

“They are often without a club for the first time, get impatient and want to jump at the first offer.”

Melvyn Lorenzen on the impatience of the young participants in the VDV training camp

However, Lorenzen has not only used the free time since his last engagement until the VDV training camp to keep fit. He also branched out: “I started looking into blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies. I also did research there and invested in various projects.”

His advantage is that he was doing well financially before the time without a contract, “so that I don’t have to worry financially for the time being”.

Weekends as a hope for a new club

Lorenzen’s focus is currently fully on the four-week training camp. At 26, he is one of the older players in the VDV team, which is why he often gives his younger colleagues a helping hand: “They are often without a club for the first time, get impatient and want to jump at the first offer, even though it may not be the best option.”

On the pitch, they give it their all together during the week, which includes a test match each week. That’s where the winger can show himself now. He scored once against the district league team Ankum (6:1) and also celebrated against the upper league team KFC Uerdingen (1:2).

After a week of training at the VDV, the footballers keep fit themselves at the weekend, with training plans as an option. But the weekends are also usually the phases in which movement comes into play when looking for a club.

Melvyn Lorenzen never really got a foothold in Ireland.

Melvyn Lorenzen never really got a foothold in Ireland. image: IMAGO / Inpho Photography

Lorenzen explains: “The VDV coaches receive calls from clubs wanting to find out who is in the training group and how they are doing.” He adds with a laugh: “The coaches then hope that they won’t see us again next week.” This would mean that the player has found an employer.

According to Lorenzen, trainer Peter Neururer and other people who work in the VDV also play a special role because they “have a good network in the clubs”. Neururer is said to have already indicated to Lorenzen that some clubs asked about the striker.

“With my personality and experience, I can offer the players added value.”

Melvyn Lorenz

Lorenzen usually negotiates contracts alone

In order to be more attractive for a club, Lorenzen would also do without an advisor. If a club approached him, he saw no need to intervene with another consultant and would negotiate the contract himself. “In the end, the association still has to pay a fee” for the agent’s activities.

At the same time, according to his own statements, Lorenzen has already negotiated a contract for himself. When he moved to Karpaty Lviv, he independently conducted talks with the club officials. He saw it as a “development step” for himself, got advice from former companions beforehand and at the same time sat at the table during previous contract negotiations.

From this activity he drew for himself that he can imagine a future as a consultant. “With my personality and experience, I can offer the players added value,” Lorenzen is convinced of himself. Laughing and hopeful at the same time, he adds: “But I hope that’s not now, but in eight or ten years.”

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