Which successful footballers have no education?

Street footballer or young talent?

Berlin - dark red ash, no real football boots and only two training grounds for far too many teams. Levan Kobiashvili is playing his last season at Hertha BSC as "team senior" and is always at the side of the young, inexperienced team-mates. But when the record national player in his home country talks about his footballing beginnings as a little boy in the Georgian Socialist Soviet Republic, the 16-year-old Nico Schulz sits next to him with wide and incredulous eyes and listens intently. "That is a huge difference to the present day and cannot be compared at all," says the likeable left-back.

Kobiashvili started playing football at the age of six for a club in a suburb of Tbilisi. There was simply no training ground with several grass and artificial turf pitches, uniform training clothing, decent football boots or trained coaches. “The most important thing was the fun and the ball. And someone who tells us what we should and are allowed to do. That was something like the trainer, ”says“ Kobi ”with a grin. “I didn't know what the options were. I only knew what we had. When I see the infrastructure of the football academy these days, the young people lack nothing, absolutely nothing. That is unique. "

Different requirements in youth


Nico Schulz sits next to it, stunned. The U21 international switched to Hertha BSC in 2000 at the age of seven and enjoyed the blue-whites' training to the full from the start. A career that many young footballers at Hertha BSC's football academy use to orientate themselves. For the then young Schulz, however, the trappings didn't (yet) play a major role: “As a little boy, you don't think too much. I wanted to play soccer and preferably as often as possible. And Hertha BSC offered me the best conditions for this. ”Schulz still cannot get over the conditions in Georgia. “I have to take up the space conditions again. Perhaps I only played on ashes once. I can't imagine it, it was just a lot more fun on grass or artificial turf, ”adds“ Schulle ”with a smile and knowing that the requirements at Hertha BSC are simple
are really good.

Nevertheless, Levan Kobiashvili fondly thinks back to his beginnings. You could literally call him a real “street footballer”. “We didn't have training that often, so we played football on the street after school and whenever we had time,” says “Kobi”. "That was my best training",
the record-breaking Georgian international says with a smile. Nico Schulz ’best training was that of Hertha BSC. “I had well-trained coaches from day one, the conditions were just great. I couldn't have imagined anything better, ”said Schulz. “Besides, could
I compete with the best players in my age group in Berlin and also with other Bundesliga clubs of the same age, ”adds the native of Berlin.

"I live my dream!"

In the football academy at Hertha BSC, the young kickers lack nothing. In addition to football-specific training, great importance is attached to personal development and the communication of norms and values. The young players are looked after individually in all areas. This includes sport, but also school, training and preparation for life. “We received support and help for all walks of life, and we always had a contact to whom we could turn. Virtually all-round support, ”reports Schulz and you can tell how proud he is to be able to lace up his shoes for Hertha BSC in the Bundesliga. "I live my dream!"

Speaking of dreams, Levan Kobiashvili could only dream of these conditions. But the Georgian bit his way through: “I wasn't always one of the best, but I was very ambitious and strong-willed. And had a goal! ”These characteristics also remained in Germany
hidden from anyone and SC Freiburg secured the services of the then 21-year-old in 1998. Kobiashvili remembers the early days in Germany very well: “Back then, the young German players were always in discussion. They are technically too weak, the training is not good enough. ”According to
After the less successful European Championship 2000 of the German national team, the DFB relied more and more on the promotion of young talent, installed performance centers and support points.

Different paths to the dream of 'professional footballer'


Not only did the German national team benefit from this in the following years, but also Nico Schulz and many other young people at Hertha BSC. With qualified and experienced coaches such as Andy Thom, Ante Covic, Michael Hartmann or Pal Dardai, Hertha BSC can assure the young players of high quality in their daily training work and accordingly optimally prepare the talents for professional football through systematic, age-appropriate and individual training. Levan Kobiashvili and Nico Schulz have taken two completely different paths into professional football.

Nevertheless: "Kobi" made it as a "street footballer" under very difficult conditions in his home country with 100 international matches to become the record national player in his home country, played over 300 Bundesliga games and was twice Georgia's footballer of the year (2000, 2005). Nico Schulz went through all of Hertha BSC's youth teams under the best of conditions and is still at the beginning of his career. He has already played 40 Bundesliga games and made his first appearances for the German U21 national team. In conclusion, however, both agree on the following points. "No matter how good the conditions are without fun, ambition, discipline and love for football, it will be very, very difficult to achieve your goals." Two worlds, but both have achieved their goal: professional footballer.