It wouldn’t have taken much for uli borowka to have ended up in jail himself. "I also have a record," says the former bundesliga professional and dry alcoholic. In the suff, he was often not in control of his senses, provoked brawls, smashed up the porsche and beat up his wife.
"I screwed up a lot and was lucky not to get locked up."His audience of around 50 people had a different experience: they were inmates of the berlin juvenile detention center and had committed serious robberies or dangerous bodily harm. They listened attentively as borowka read from his book "volle pulle". My double life as a professional football player and alcoholic" reads aloud.
The 50-year-old with the stubbly beard and the deep wrinkles around his mouth already stands out visually from his audience. He, the former star of werder bremen appears in a green shirt, she, the prisoner in the red leisure outfit of the prison. Borowka got his act together, but only after he had lost everything: his cars, his job and his family.
Despite his alcoholism, the native of sauerland achieved a great deal as a player, playing a total of 388 bundesliga games for borussia monchengladbach and werder bremen and scoring 19 goals as a defender. With bremen, borowka also won the championship trophy and the dfb cup twice each and won the european cup winners’ cup in 1992.
Teammates and opponents reverently called him "eisenfub" or "axe," for the defender was known for his rude tackling. "Klinsmann always ran away very quickly," says borowka with a grin. "Only ulf kirsten, he was clawing his way back."
Borowka made his debut for the national team against diego maradona in 1988, making a total of six appearances for the team. Even though he followed the argentine superstar kicking and screaming, the latter gave him his jersey as a farewell gift. A murmur goes through the room.
Even here in prison, the trained machinist does not need much to gain respect. When the room gets restless, he raises his voice briefly or simply looks into the crowd with his penetrating gaze – and silence returns.
In the battle with alcohol, borowka was the loser for a long time. "Whenever I won on the pitch, I wanted to reward myself afterwards. And when I lost, I drank out of frustration," he says. He was able to keep his search a secret from the public for a long time, but at some point everything in his private life revolved around the material. A case of beer and a bottle each of whiskey, vodka and bitters – that was borowka’s daily workload at the end of the day. The audience is amazed and laughs. His first wife and two children had left him in the meantime and still avoid contact, he says. "I only found out about my daughter’s marriage through facebook."Now the young men are silent.
Friends eventually got him a place in a rehab clinic, where he finally beat alcohol in 2000 after four months of therapy. "It was this unconditional will that already distinguished me as a soccer player," says borowka. In the meantime, he has married for the second time and become a father for the third time.
Kevin (name changed), a first-row prisoner, is not really interested in football, but borowka’s story impressed him. "It’s hopeful to hear something like this from someone who has been at the bottom," says the 20-year-old, who will be released in seven months and then wants to train as a chef. "I think i can do it too."