Benedikt Höwedes, 32, looks like a vacationer. He wears a red cap on his head, he has rolled up the sleeves of his white shirt and his feet are in Birkenstock sandals. Höwedes comes to his meeting in his home town of Haltern am See on the northern edge of the Ruhr area by bike. Unfortunately, his wife took the key of the car with him to work, but actually it was much nicer to cycle in the weather.
Höwedes is visibly relaxed. He came to tell you why he ended his professional football career. After André Schürrle, he is the second player from the World Cup team from 2014who is stepping down this year. The defender played for Schalke 04 for 16 years before moving to Juventus three years ago. Most recently, he joined Lokomotive Moscow for two years, where he prematurely terminated his contract, which ran until 2021, a few weeks ago.
SPIEGEL: Mr. Höwedes, you played half your life for FC Schalke 04, the club is currently in a serious financial and sporting crisis. Didn’t it appeal to you to help out there?
Benedikt Höwedes: I kept thinking about that. I also had some inquiries from clubs at home and abroad, but I didn’t want to depend on other people’s decisions. I wanted to draw a line now.
SPIEGEL: Because you are no longer good enough?
Höwedes: No, I have played 50 games for Lokomotiv Moscow in the past two years, including in the Champions League, we have won cups and Supercups. Of course, I notice that it takes me longer to regenerate. I could compensate for this for a long time with my experience. But recently I was traveling with my wife and child on a camper in the south of France. Then I noticed how blatant it was for me to experience my son up close. Football suddenly became so unimportant to me. Our son is now 21 months old and unfortunately I didn’t get much from him during my time in Moscow. I suffered a lot as a family man.
SPIEGEL: Such a clear cut is unusual, most professionals drag their careers lengthy.
Höwedes: It is also a difficult step. I loved playing football until the end. It’s hard to miss this moment, to run into a sold-out stage. Something like that will push you even after many years. Perhaps the Corona days with the ghost games were a hint with the fence post.
SPIEGEL: With this decision, you forego several million.
Höwedes: It may sound stupid because I benefited enormously from the football business, but: Money is not important to me. Expensive watches and cars don’t fit my lifestyle. I’ve earned enough, and I’m not going to put myself on rotten skin just because I’m no longer a professional footballer.
SPIEGEL: They have been in this football bubble for years, in which private yachts, flashy cars and glasses are part of everyday life. How could you feel comfortable there?