Nikolce Noveski is a professional footballer, capped 58 times for Macedonia, played 347 games for Mainz05 over a period of 11 years.
He’s a hard-as-nails /bites-yer-legs defender and by all accounts the nicest, quietest and most gentle person you’d want to meet.
He captained the team for years (which again proves that you don’t have to be a motormouth to be a leader) and scored 19 goals, 6 of them for the opposition.
Which sets some kind of record around here.
Last Saturday was his last home game (which was the reason I splurged big bucks on a really good seat, one row back from the playing field).
Because you don’t come across people like this very often.
When Mainz was relegated to the 2nd Division, he could have got out of his contract and leveraged his €3m market value (Mainz05 bought him for €500k, which is his market value today) to transfer to another club with a significantly better salary.
But, no, he stayed and helped get the team back into the 1st Division.
He’s now 36 and in the twilight of his career. He had difficulty getting back into the first team after injury and the club didn’t extend his contract. Christian Heidel, the Mainz 05 manager, said that he’s too fine a person to have him sitting in the bleachers for a season.
So on Saturday, he led the team out onto the field as captain – everyone (except the prick-ish FC Köln fans sitting next to me…) stood up and applauded him onto the field, he played a pretty good game (but he’s not as quick against the 20 year olds any more and got yellow-carded for a blatant tactical foul) and almost scored a goal.
A real one.
Subbed out a few minutes before the end to give him the stage for a deserved farewell – standing ovation (except the prick-ish FC Köln fans sitting next to me…), all his teammates players ran over to applaud him off the field, the fan block unrolled a banner – must have been 40m long – with “Oh Captain, mein Captain” and another of similar size celebrating his 11 years, 347 appearances – and 6 own goals.
And of course he was summoned to the fence in the fan block to lead us all in Humba-Humba-Humba-Täterä
What a worthwhile afternoon.
Did I mention that we won 2-0?
Serves those prick-ish FC Köln fans sitting next to me right…