On the cusp of a fresh new challenge after a 16-year stint at Bayern, David Alaba is a man who is clear in his vision, both of himself and his path and of the power of football. His view of a footballing Utopia was just one of the topics up for discussion as he took his place in the Summer 2021 edition of SoccerBible Volumes – our new special edition print publication.

To say David Alaba “gets it” is an understatement but also incredibly precise. What “it” is, is entirely up to the reader but if we were to describe “it”, “it” would be a level of understanding, compassion and consciousness that goes deep with a cultured understanding  that backs up a profound statement. This man is not just a thinker but a doer. An inspiring play maker with his own tastes and own identity, he is one we can all take inspiration and a lead from. Creating his own path, he is the man who guides the curve. Forget early adopter, he made the defense splitting path both on and off the pitch way before this sentence was even written.

While taking his place among his compatriots at the Euros, there's also the fresh new challenge in Spain with Real Madrid on the horizon after 16 years in what he describes as "his comfort zone" at Bayern. It's a daunting prospect but one the Austrian international has fully embraced.

alaba portrait soccerbible_0009_L1001143.jpg
alaba portrait soccerbible_0006_L1001195.jpg

For several years you’ve been a pioneer when it comes to mixing football with fashion, you’ve had your own brand for a while now. Where did that hunger to express yourself come from?

I am a person who has clear convictions and values. As a person, I want to stand for something accordingly – both on and off the football field. For me, fashion is one way to present my personality to the outside world.

Who or where do you look for inspiration?

In recent days, the internet is certainly a source of inspiration. But I am also fortunate enough to travel a lot because of my job and I enjoy traveling privately (except for the Corona period). Cities themselves have a certain influence on me, where I observe a lot, sometimes only in the subconscious. But I also have an eye for what I like – and what I don't.

Do you read, listen to podcasts or anything like that – do you gather motivation from hearing and seeing other successful people too?

I love reading in my free time, especially reading material that inspires and motivates me. Recently, I spent a lot of time reading about Michael Jordan's coach, Tim Grover, with whom I now also work with. I read his book. All of that fascinated me very much.

How important for your journey has it been to surround yourself with the right people? Creatively and emotionally…

My surroundings, my friends and my family play a very important role in my life and make me who I am. I also like it when I create an environment in which I can learn new things from others. In the last few years I've got to know a lot of people from music or film, because these areas simply inspire me a lot.

How much is it a healthy escape for you to build brands, explore the fashion industry and learn along the way?

It's an essential part of my life. And I also believe that it is important as a footballer to get to know new fields for yourself and to get motivation or inspiration from them.

alaba portrait soccerbible_0007_L1001168.jpg
alaba portrait soccerbible_0004_L1001537.jpg

Your tastes may have changed over time, what have you learnt about yourself mentally over the past few years?

I can give you an example from fashion or the way I dressed. Back then, I was only interested in brands and what the brands basically stood for: coolness and luxury. Today I am more concerned with dealing with brands very consciously and developing a deep understanding in order to be able to express myself accordingly through fashion. So I think that I am a much more conscious person today than I may have been before.

You have achieved such an incredible amount, particularly with Bayern. How hard has it been to contemplate a new chapter, and leaving the club?

Definitely one of the toughest decisions in my life so far. But what moved me to do so is the urge for a new challenge in order to be able to develop myself even more consciously as a person. And it's nice to be able to look back on such a great and successful time. The moments that I experienced here with the club will last forever.

The idea of a blank canvas, how does that make you feel?

On the one hand, it feels exciting because the uncertainty in the future and the new challenge have something very appealing about them. On the other hand, I also feel a certain responsibility towards myself.

What is your driving ambition for the next chapter and how will you embrace it?

Of course, I would like to continue to be successful in sport and to be able to contribute my part to mutual success in a team. In the meantime I have become a more mature person, I like to take on responsibility and I am therefore looking forward to everything that awaits me in the future.

All the success you have had, how much does that reset your standards? It must be hard when you lose considering winning is what is more familiar…

Life is a constant process. That's why I don't always find losing a negative thing. But that too is part of the challenge that I would like to consciously choose. But my eagerness for success will always persist, so of course I will continue to do everything in my power to be successful in my sport in the future.

alaba portrait soccerbible_0002_L1001979.jpg
alaba portrait soccerbible_0005_L1001528.jpg

What’s been the greatest lesson you’ve learnt about yourself during your time at Bayern?

To never give up and success comes to those who work the hardest. Simple as that. And that's something that not only guided me in my time at Bayern, but also in my time as a professional footballer in general. And I follow this maxim not only in football, but also in life.

With this new chapter, is it a chance to embrace other aspects of your life even further? For example, going to live in a new city, taking yourself outside your comfort zone?

In any case. The change will not only present me with a new sporting challenge, but that is the path that I consciously chose.

How much do you thrive on the idea of a challenge – are you at your best when you’re most competitive?

Every athlete should see competition and the challenge of the sport as a driving force, no matter what level. And of course it is the same with me. I need the challenge to be at my best.

What would you like to change about football, if you could change anything?

Football is, at its core, a driving force for our society. And we have to be aware that football has a real chance to address problems today, to attract attention and to change grievances. Therefore, I would like us to become more aware of our role and responsibility and to make use of it. All together, from individual players to associations.

Playing at a European Championship – after the craziness of the past year or so, how much will that be a release of adrenaline and excitement?

As footballers we have the great privilege to pursue our passion, football, while many, many footballers in lower leagues are / were unfortunately not to be able to do so. Therefore, it's of course all the more important for us to transfer the enthusiasm and passion that football brings with it to others outside.

alaba portrait soccerbible_0001_L1001984.jpg
alaba portrait soccerbible_0003_L1001553.jpg

Does the excitement of seeing your name on the back of a national team jersey ever wear off?

No way. For me it is the greatest honor to be able to wear the national team's jersey. And the fact that we and the team are allowed to take part in the European Championship naturally makes it even more valuable and unique.

Playing at that level, it shows just how far you’ve come. What does it mean to all those around you – your friends and family – to see you competing on that stage?

The support from outside, from my family and friends, is very special. They celebrate with me, they suffer with me. Most of my childhood friends are still some of my best friends today. We have built a very special relationship over the years.

With that status in mind and your personal journey, do you think about legacy at all and how, most importantly, you would like to leave your mark on the planet?

Of course, as a footballer, I want to inspire young players and be a good role model for them. But I think being a role model doesn't end on the soccer field. That is why I want to stand up for key issues beyond the football field and sport and thereby achieve lasting good. At the end of the day, we are footballers who have to use their platform to bring up topics.

What is Utopia for your – how would you describe your paradise?

A society without grievances, without inequalities and violence. We are all people created by God, which must give us a bond that knows how to solve any problem.

rug 10-min.jpg

Pick up a copy of SoccerBible 'Volumes' – Summer ‘21 ‘Utopia’ Edition exclusively at prodirectsoccer.com