Pervan, the climate activist: "Legendary moments are created"

He hasn’t played a second this season, and yet substitute keeper Pavao Pervan has played his part in VfL Wolfsburg’s upswing. Captain Maximilian Arnold explicitly emphasizes the 35-year-old.

So far he hasn’t played a role on the field, but he’s all the more important off the field: Pavao Pervan.


His sporting record after 17 competitive games is easy to explain: zero minutes of game time for Pavao Pervan, who is number 2 at VfL Wolfsburg behind the extremely strong Koen Casteels. “Koen is having an incredibly good season and saved us from even worse at the beginning,” says his loyal representative, who is happy “that we four keepers work well as a team with our coach Pascal Formann.” Pervan in the role of “just” exercising all the time. And yet his name keeps coming up when it comes to explaining VfL’s upswing.

At the beginning of September, Wolfsburg had just lost 4-2 to Cologne when captain Maximilian Arnold realized with a bitter expression: His team is not a team. This mental thing, with the important climate in the dressing room, “maybe we haven’t quite understood it yet.” Two months later, VfL wins in a row and appears as a unit. Why? “I have to single out Pavo,” says Arnold. “He takes care of the activities off the pitch, collects the money, chooses good locations. It’s fun, things grow together.”

“Legendary moments” – without the coach

Pervan, the climate activist. The 35-year-old as cashier and caretaker. “Everyone has their part in it when things don’t go well, but also when things go well,” he emphasizes. “It makes me proud when my work is appreciated.” The goalkeeper organizes events outside the VfL Center at regular intervals. Without coach Niko Kovac (“Are you relaxed when the boss is there?”), Sometimes just the players, sometimes with families. Sometimes a party, sometimes a meal. Sometimes in Wolfsburg, sometimes somewhere else. For example in Düsseldorf, when the team recently extended the away trip after the 2-2 draw in Leverkusen. “That’s how,” Pervan is convinced, “you grow together as a team. Interpersonal relationships are extremely important, they don’t happen on the training ground.” But in a relaxed atmosphere and without fighting for regular places and minutes of use. “When you notice how the other ticks privately, a much better understanding develops for each other.” The fun is in the foreground, “there are sometimes legendary moments”. Celebrations with consequences: “All of a sudden, players who hadn’t had much to do with each other before greeted each other as if they had gone to kindergarten together.”

Pervan’s “side job” is not without its pitfalls, events have to be planned in advance. But what if the team experiences a debacle and is photographed partying in the evening? “Then that’s it. That shouldn’t stop us, it’s just as important as the work on the pitch.” The keeper is convinced: “We won’t always win, but now everyone is running for each other. Even a dirty win like in Hoffenheim is no coincidence.” And also a merit of the one who has not played a second.

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