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Neven Subotic not eligible for Germany
by Mike Woitalla, October 24th, 2008 7AM

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[U.S. SOCCER] The German soccer federation [DFB], which had previously been optimistic that 19-year-old defender Neven Subotic would be eligible for its national team despite having played for the USA at the 2005 U-17 World Cup, has admitted that Subotic doesn't meet the FIFA requirements for a national-team switch to Germany. The news increases the chances that Subotic will play for the U.S. national team, although he still has other options.

Subotic's play in Borussia Dortmund's central defense had yielded high praise from Germany coach Joachim Loew, who said he wanted to call Subotic into a national team camp and that the DFB was working to acquire German citizenship for him.

FIFA regulations allow players to switch national teams before the age of 21, but the player must have had the citizenship of the nation he's switching to at the time he played for the other country. That not being the case with Subotic, he would not be eligible to play for Germany even when he acquires his German citizenship.

Subotic was born in the former Yugoslavia in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1988 to a Serbian family that immigrated to Germany when he was 18 months old in 1990. The Subotic family moved to the USA in 1999.

Neven Subotic acquired U.S. citizenship, and after being discovered playing in a park in Bradenton, Fla., by U.S. U-17 assistant coach Keith Fulk, he was invited to a tryout and earned a spot in the U.S. U-17 Residency Program.

Subotic can, before his 21st birthday (Dec. 10, 2009), decide to play for Serbia or Bosnia.

The Subotic family had fled Bosnia for Germany before the outbreak of the Bosnian War of 1992-1995. When Neven was 11, his family's German residence authorization expired and the family moved to Utah, before relocating in Bradenton so his sister, Natalija, could attend the Bollettieri Tennis Academy at the IMG Academy.

Seven years after arriving in the USA, Neven Subotic returned to Germany, where he had a successful tryout with Mainz 05. During the 2006-07 season, Subotic played for Mainz's youth and Fourth Division teams. But in the last game of the season, with Mainz already doomed to Second Division relegation, he started and played the full 90 minutes in a 5-2 loss to Bayern Munich, becoming, at age 18, the youngster American to play in the Bundesliga 1.

The following season, Subotic played 33 games and scored four goals for Mainz in the Second Division. Kicker Magazine named him the Second Division's top central defender of the 2007-08 season, after which he moved to top-tier Borussia Dortmund on a $5.5 million transfer.

Subotic won a starting role upon his arrival in Dortmund and scored three goals in his first four games.

Subotic played 89 minutes in four games at the 2005 U-17 World Cup, where the Americans reached the quarterfinals. He was left out of Coach Thomas Rongen's squad for the 2007 U-20 World Cup.

Subotic told Soccer America via e-mail late last month that criticism in the press on his play by Rongen that had upset him would not impact his decision on which national team to play for.



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