Twenty-six former international footballers are celebrating their graduation from the UEFA Executive Master for International Players (MIP) programme.
The ex-pros, including UEFA Champions League winners Nemanja Vidić and Sami Khedira and UEFA Women’s Champions League winner Verónica Boquete, advance from the course with a university diploma that sets them up for a successful second career away from the pitch.
The group convened to celebrate their success at UEFA HQ in Switzerland on Wednesday, meeting president Aleksander Čeferin and enjoying a series of fun football games before the afternoon’s graduation ceremony. The event also represented a perfect opportunity to meet course alumni and welcome the new group of MIP students, who will follow in their footsteps over the next two years.
UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin said, “Congratulations on this momentous day! Your hard work, dedication, and sacrifices have opened the way for a successful second half of your careers. Your on-field experience is invaluable, and it is essential for European football to retain its top players post-retirement in administrator roles. The insights and connections from the UEFA MIP will prepare you well for upcoming challenges. So please safeguard the core values of our sport and lead by example. We are eagerly anticipating your progress in this new career pathway.”
What does it mean for players to go back to school?
The MIP, which is open only to former professional players and referees, helps participants to gain the knowledge and experience required to help them transition from the pitch to senior administrative positions within the game.
Our journey was not just about academic growth. It was a transformational experience that strengthened our bonds, expanded our horizons and shaped us into confident leaders in the world of football management,” explains former Austria defender Sebastian Prödl.
“UEFA designed a perfect programme for us to develop. We took on challenges together, celebrated our milestones and supported each other through the ups and downs of the programme. We will benefit a lot from our team-mates and continue to help each other on future ideas, jobs and decisions.”
Former midfielder Lucienne Reichardt took on a role as women’s football manager with the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) while studying for the MIP. “Personally, I would not be in the role at the KNVB if I did not participate in this course,” she says. ” When we started this journey I don’t think we were entirely sure of the paths we would take, but it has given us all the confidence to take on leadership roles within the football industry.
“It is a springboard for the future and we are now equipped with the skills and knowledge to make a meaningful impact in football. We have the power to shape the future of the sport, champion diversity and inclusion and uphold the values that make football a unifying force.”
The class of ’23: who graduated from the UEFA MIP this year?
Mihail Alexandrov, Hamit Altintop, Demba Ba, Verónica Boquete, Sergei Butelschi, Aurélien Chedjou, Nigel de Jong, Túlio de Melo, Réginal Goreux, Benedikt Höwedes, Christos Karipidis, Sami Khedira, Panagiotis Kone, Evgeniy Levchenko, Renate Lingor, Diana Matheson, Raoni Medina, Vlad Munteanu, Francis Nganga, Sebastian Prödl, Razvan Rat, Lucienne Reichardt, Paul Scharner, Therese Sjögran, Vicente Suanno, Nemanja Vidić