Ex-pros graduate from the UEFA Academy's Executive Master for International Players (MIP), paving the way for successful second careers.
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Twenty-six former international footballers are celebrating their graduation from the UEFA Executive Master for International Players (MIP) programme.
The ex-pros, including UEFA Champions League winners Nemanja Vidić and Sami Khedira and UEFA Women's Champions League winner Verónica Boquete, advance from the course with a university diploma that sets them up for a successful second career away from the pitch.
The group convened to celebrate their success at UEFA HQ in Switzerland on Wednesday, meeting president Aleksander Čeferin and enjoying a series of fun football games before the afternoon's graduation ceremony. The event also represented a perfect opportunity to meet course alumni and welcome the new group of MIP students, who will follow in their footsteps over the next two years.
UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin:
"Congratulations on this momentous day! Your hard work, dedication, and sacrifices have opened the way for a successful second half of your careers. Your on-field experience is invaluable, and it is essential for European football to retain its top players post-retirement in administrator roles. The insights and connections from the UEFA MIP will prepare you well for upcoming challenges. So please safeguard the core values of our sport and lead by example. We are eagerly anticipating your progress in this new career pathway."
What does it mean for players to go back to school?
The MIP, which is open only to former professional players and referees, helps participants to gain the knowledge and experience required to help them transition from the pitch to senior administrative positions within the game.
Our journey was not just about academic growth. It was a transformational experience that strengthened our bonds, expanded our horizons and shaped us into confident leaders in the world of football management," explains former Austria defender Sebastian Prödl.
"UEFA designed a perfect programme for us to develop. We took on challenges together, celebrated our milestones and supported each other through the ups and downs of the programme. We will benefit a lot from our team-mates and continue to help each other on future ideas, jobs and decisions."
Former midfielder Lucienne Reichardt took on a role as women's football manager with the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) while studying for the MIP. "Personally, I would not be in the role at the KNVB if I did not participate in this course," she says. " When we started this journey I don’t think we were entirely sure of the paths we would take, but it has given us all the confidence to take on leadership roles within the football industry.
"It is a springboard for the future and we are now equipped with the skills and knowledge to make a meaningful impact in football. We have the power to shape the future of the sport, champion diversity and inclusion and uphold the values that make football a unifying force."
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Organised in close collaboration with the CDES at the University of Limoges and Birkbeck College at the University of London and in partnership with the European Club Association (ECA) and the International Federation of Professional Players (FIFPro), the MIP modules are designed to give former players a broad range of skills that are essential to succeeding in a second career.
To provide a comprehensive overview, seven week-long sessions, staged in major global cities, examine a different aspect of the administration and governance of a football organisation. In addition, players not already working within a sports body must complete a three-month work placement to ensure they have hands-on, day-to-day experience.
More about the UEFA Academy
You don’t have to be an ex-international star to learn with the UEFA Academy.
As well as several courses tailored for players considering their next steps, the Academy also provides opportunities for people working in the football industry to raise their game through dedicated educational and management training.
Its wide range of courses help executives and specialists develop their skills to gain a footing in the administrative side of the sport.