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Footballing legends enrol on UEFA masters course

Nemanja Vidić, Sami Khedira, Verónica Boquete and Nigel de Jong are among the star names who have enrolled on UEFA's Executive Master for International Players programme.

UEFA MIP: fourth edition launch
UEFA MIP: fourth edition launch

Over the next two years, a group of former elite footballers, which includes the likes of Benedikt Höwedes, Hamit Altıntop, Diana Matheson and Luisão, will look to acquire professional skills in the classroom in order to transition into their post-footballing careers.

A 29-strong squad of ex-pros have enrolled in the fourth edition of UEFA's Executive Master for International Players (MIP), a 20-month programme designed to equip top international players with the tools required to transfer their playing strengths into effective management skills off the pitch.

Find out what other courses UEFA offers here

Former Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain defender Maxwell Scherrer, now UEFA chief of football development, was a participant in the second edition of the UEFA MIP and believes it has played a key role in helping him to transition into a successful second career.

Maxwell Scherrer, UEFA chief of football development

"It was the perfect programme for me once I decided to go into sports administration. I was looking in France; I was looking in different countries for some kind of programme, and, suddenly, I heard from former players who enrolled on the first edition of the UEFA MIP. They were talking really highly about the programme, so, for me, it was the perfect programme, to shift from the player's perspective to the perspective of working for an administration."

The MIP course comprises seven week-long sessions staged in major global cities, with each session examining a different aspect of the administration and governance of a sports 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.

Sami Khedira, FIFA World Cup winner with Germany in 2014

"During my career, I always thought that I would like to become a coach. However, towards the end of my career, in the last year or two, I changed my mind a little bit. I was thinking perhaps of becoming an agent, a sporting director, a president. I am very curious, and I am open minded. I am open to see what I want to do, but if it is in football, then perhaps I would like to become a general manager because I am really interested in looking to create and change something and make things better and if you are in or involved with a club, you have the time to make an impact. I think the MIP can help you to show you more things and even to learn more about yourself."

The modules are designed to give ex-pros a broad range of skills recognised as essential to succeeding in a second career. For example, students will study the role and the skill set needed in order to take up a managerial position; strategic marketing and communication; and, stadium and on-site operational management. Participants also get an insight into North America's model of league and club operations.

Nigel de Jong, former Netherlands international and current television pundit

"The UEFA MIP course is a great opportunity to fulfil your objectives after you have retired as a player. There are so many different paths you can take, and this course gives you a great understanding of what you really want, such as finding a new identity. You're not a professional anymore, but someone in the sense of business, marketing and administration and this can hopefully set you up one day in a leading role, hopefully in the organisation of a club."

Not all the participants on the course have retired from professional football. Verónica Boquete is still playing for AC Milan, but with her career drawing to an end, she decided it was time for her to start thinking about her next step off the pitch and she believes she has an advantage over some of her colleagues on the course.

Verónica Boquete, AC Milan midfielder

“I think it is going to be fine – playing and studying at the same time. On the women's side, in our early years, we are used to studying and playing or perhaps working and playing. During my career, I have been doing other things, such as going to college, learning languages and doing other courses. I am not afraid about being able to handle everything. Of course this course is not going to be easy, but it is a commitment, the same as what you do on the field with your team-mates – now it is just on the education side.”

The first session of the fourth edition of the UEFA MIP, which is run by the UEFA Academy in close collaboration with the CDES at the University of Limoges and Birkbeck College at the University of London, is currently taking place in Nyon, with the programme running until summer 2023.

The following former and current international players have enrolled on the fourth edition of the UEFA MIP (in alphabetical order):

Mihail Aleksandrov (Bulgaria); Hamit Altıntop (Turkey); Demba Ba (Senegal); Verónica Boquete (Spain); Serghei Butelschi (Moldova); Aurélien Chedjou (Cameroon); Vedran Ćorluka (Croatia); Nigel de Jong (Netherlands): Túlio de Melo (Brazil); Réginal Goreux (Haiti); Benedikt Höwedes (Germany); Christos Karipidis (Greece); Sami Khedira (Germany); Yevhen Levchenko (Ukraine); Renate Lingor (Germany); Luisão (Brazil); Diana Matheson (Canada); Raoni Medina (England - Futsal); Aaron Mokoena (South Africa); Vlad Munteanu (Romania); Francis N'Ganga (Republic of Congo); Panagiotis Kone (Greece); Sebastian Prödl (Austria); Răzvan Raț (Romania); Lucienne Reichardt (Netherlands); Paul Scharner (Austria); Therese Sjögran (Sweden); Vicente Suanno (Venezuela); Nemanja Vidić (Serbia)