Dortmund star centerback, Neven Subotic, developed some of his skills playing at Sparta United from 2001-2003. He played on a team that included Eugene Starikov of Zenit St Petersburg and who was called up to the U.S. National Team in 2011, Jacob Hustedt drafted by the San Jose Earthquakes, and Andy Phillips who was on the U.S. Ski Team and is now a place kicker at the U.
“We had a great team,” said Greg Phillips who coached Subotic. We made it to the finals of State Cup as a team of 11 year olds. “Neven was one of our better players. He was really big for his age and could really read the game,” continued Phillips.
“He and his family were refugees from Serbia and Germany, and Neven and his dad showed up one day in my office asking to play soccer for what they heard was the best club in Utah,” Phillips said. “Because I spoke fluent German and Neven’s father spoke only limited English, Sparta sent him to me to get registered and to play on my team.”
“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,” said Ben Vandenhazel, President of Sparta.
After playing at Sparta, Neven and his family moved to Bradenton, Florida so Neven’s sister could pursue her tennis career. There Neven made the U.S. U-17 National Team, and then Neven went to play for FC Mainz in Germany for his current coach, Jurgen Klopp. When Jurgen Klopp moved to Dortmund, he took Neven with him, and the rest is history.
“Sparta’s U-18 team saw Neven again when Sparta United won the Tampa College Showcase by beating Neven’s Tampa club team years later,” said Phillips. “He had improved quite a bit, but our Sparta boys still beat Neven and his club team. This shows me that Sparta is one of the premiere clubs in the country and can develop talent. Several of Neven’s teammates went on to play college and professional soccer,” concluded Phillips.
Neven was recently featured in a Salt Lake Tribune Article, “Dortmund defender Subotic still has fans in Utah”: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/sports/56239883-77/subotic-phillips-dortmund-lake.html.csp
Neven responded to the Tribune article 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.”