In the third quarter-finals of the Arche Cup 2021, Team Maik Franz will meet Team Lars Stindl. The team from initiator Franz, who represent the Arche location in Frankfurt Nord-West, is peppered with superstars such as PSG ace Neymar, Manuel Neuer from FC Bayern or AS Roma professional Edin Dzeko – and can therefore certainly be seen as one of the tournament favorites become.
Maik Franz was able to put together the squad so prominently thanks to a good network in the football world. “I quickly noticed how close the football family is,” said the former Eintracht Frankfurt and Hertha BSC player.
But Franz is not primarily interested in victory. Rather, he wants to draw attention to disadvantaged children. “I’m happy that it shows that the football family is very close together for social activities. Because it’s all about the children! Children who grow up in difficult financial circumstances. We can do our part to put a smile on their faces . “
In goal, Franz relies on five-time world goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (FC Bayern). “I played against him, but we’re not close friends. I got his contact through an acquaintance and wrote to him. He said yes immediately,” Franz remembers the acquisition.
Arche-Cup 2021: Team Franz peppered with superstars
The contact with Edin Dzeko (formerly VfL Wolfsburg and Manchester City), who is supposed to cause a sensation and clicks in the storm, came about via detours. “I wanted him to be on my team,” said Franz: “He answered me immediately, wording: ‘Hey Maik, I’ll be there. It used to be disgusting to play against you, but for the children I do it right away’ . “
Dzeko gets support in the attack from Alexander Iashvili (formerly SC Freiburg, Karlsruher SC and VfL Bochum), Nils Petersen (SC Freiburg), André Silva (Eintracht Frankfurt) and PSG superstar Neymar.
In midfield, Franz relies on Hakan Calhanoglu (AC Milan) and the former Schalke and Barcelona professional Ivan Rakitic (FC Sevilla). Franz himself, Sebastian Rode (Eintracht Frankfurt) and the former Schalke and Herthan Levan Kobiashvili make up the three-man chain in defense.
To get the win, Franz relies above all on the Frankfurt community. “I have two Frankfurters (Silva and Rode) in my team, I am a former Frankfurter myself, and I am also putting a very special Frankfurt shirt up for auction,” said the 39-year-old.
The team at a glance: Maik Franz (C), Manuel Neuer, Edin Dzeko, Alexander Iashvili, Levan Kobiashvili, Sebastian Rode, Hakan Calhanoglu, Neymar, Nils Petersen, André Silva, Ivan Rakitic
The full interview with team captain Maik Franz (Arche location Frankfurt)
How did the connection to the ark come about?
Maik Franz: I came across the Arche every now and then during my time as a footballer. Pablo Thiam, a good friend of mine, always supported the Arche strongly during his time in Wolfsburg, Fabian Lustenberger was an ambassador when he was captain at Hertha. And when we were thinking about who we wanted to get on board for our initiative, we dealt more intensively with the Ark. The overall structure of the ark was just perfect for Sami (Allagui, editor) and me.
What happened then?
As a professional you have a lot of time, you can do and move a lot. After my active days as a footballer, my commitment has decreased. I worked in sporting responsibility at 1. FC Magdeburg and suddenly I was in the hamster wheel. I lost sight of the whole thing and was really annoyed about it.
Then came Corona, the first lockdown and for the first time the thought: ‘What am I actually doing now?’ Before Christmas I sat with Sami and said: Come on, let’s do something big. The idea of a tournament with eight teams and the auctioning of an unbelievable 88 jerseys quickly came up.
Next I asked the managing director of 11teamsports, a friend of mine, if they support us. You were on fire from the start. We already had a huge partner who also wanted to contribute. Suddenly the idea came up with the special collection that was created for us together with Puma: caps, shirts, hoodies for men, women and children. The proceeds will also benefit the ark.
My employer, Alpha Sports United, the largest sports insurer in Germany, immediately agreed to take part. The managing director contributes 15,000 euros in prize money. And so it got more and more.
Now we have 11teamsports on board, Alpha Sports United, Sami’s brother-in-law is the managing director of CarFactory GmbH, which sponsors the trophy. We have sport.de on board, it has just become a huge wave and hopefully it will now be a really big number. This is something positive that arose from Corona.
You are one of the eight captains of the Arche Cup. Did you choose your teammates yourself?
Yes, and I quickly noticed how close the football family is. Manuel Neuer from my team is one example: I played against him, but we’re not close friends. I got his contact through a friend and wrote to him. He accepted immediately.
Or Edin Dzeko: I came into contact over a number of corners. He was one of my best opponents. I wanted him to be on my team. He answered me immediately, wording: ‘Hey Maik, I’ll be there. It used to be disgusting to play against you, but for the kids I’ll do it right away ‘. He is the captain of AS Roma and played for Manchester City. I kicked him earlier, mistreated him … and that he then wrote back like that was a real wow experience for me.
And that’s how I made friends and a network to put my team together. I am happy that it shows that the football family is very close together for social activities. Because it’s all about the children! Children who grow up in difficult financial circumstances. We can do a part to put a smile on their faces. We can make a difference, draw attention to the topic. Especially in Germany. I was shocked that so many children were behind. We should make sure that children get through life well. Money is one thing and important, attention is at least as important.
How do you rate your team’s chances?
I am counting on the Frankfurt community. I have two Frankfurters on my team, I am a former Frankfurter myself, and I’m putting a very special Frankfurt shirt up for auction.
>> Here are more statements from Maik Franz
MJ4K – My Jersey 4 Kids – is an initiative of the two former soccer professionals Maik Franz and Sami Allagui for the well-being of children and young people. The initiative is supported by Germany’s largest online soccer outfitter 11teamsports, Alpha Sports United, CarFactory GmbH, the official media partner sport.de and the brandmade agency.