The UEFA Champions League final between German clubs Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich is set to take place this Saturday, May 25, and for the first time the competition will feature an American player.
Twenty-four-year-old center-back Neven Subotic, a former U.S. Youth National Team member, will take the field for Dortmund. Subotic moved to Salt Lake City from Germany, after his family emigrated from Serbia, and played for Sparta United Soccer Club from 2001-2003. Subotic’s team made it to the finals of the US Youth Soccer Utah State Cup when Subotic was 11 years old.
Subotic proceeded to move to Tampa Bay where he joined the USSF Under-17 Residency program, and committed to play college ball at The University of South Florida before being offered a professional contract in Germany. Subotic also spent some time with the U.S. U-20 team before opting to play for the Serbian National Team.
"We had a great team, and Neven was one of our better players," Greg Phillips, who coached Subotic, said on the club’s website. "He was really big for his age and could really read the game."
Subotic, who remains big for his age at 6’4" and almost 200 pounds, has made 25 appearances for Dortmund in league play and 10 appearances in the club’s Champions League run, two of which were against Real Madrid in the semifinals.
"It’s really cool to think that a player that learned his skills at Sparta and was just one of the kids is now a star player who will be playing in the Champions League Final," Ben Vandenhazel, President of Sparta said on Sparta’s website.
Subotic’s Sparta team also included Eugene Starikov, who plays for Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia, and was called up to the U.S. National team in 2011, as well as 2012 San Jose Earthquakes draft pick, Jacob Hustedt.
Subotic responded to a Salt Lake Tribune Article entitled "Dortmund defender Subotic still has fans in Utah
" by posting "I am him :) I just wanted to say Hello to my former Coach and let him know that I appreciate that he is still following my foot-steps. Thanks and take care."
Subotic and Dortmund will take on Bayern Munich this Saturday at 2:00 p.m. ET, televised live on Fox.