The name Voeller holds high standing in the world of German football. And even though Marco Voeller of Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt choose basketball over fussball, that did not disappoint his legendary father Rudi Voeller.
The younger Voeller is making a bit of name for himself playing for his dream club as a tough defender who rebounds and gives the team good energy.
"I have a small role and bring energy and a physical presence. My stats are more secondary," said Voeller, who is averaging 3.9 points and 1.5 rebounds in 11 minutes per 7DAYS EuroCup game. "I do the things I do so we can be successful."
Success is something that is well known in the family. Rudi Voeller won the 1990 FIFA World Cup with Germany and was runner-up in 1986, also finishing second at the Euro 1992, making 90 appearances for the national team and scoring 47 goals. Voeller also helped Marseille to the UEFA Champions League title in 1993. He later served as the sports director at Bayer Leverkusen and his former club Roma and also coached the German national team from 2000 to 2004.
"I rediscovered fun with basketball."
Marco Voeller, for his part, is satisfied with Skyliners' performance in the EuroCup after going 6-4 in the regular season to reach the Top 16, where they are 0-4 and have been eliminated from reaching the quarterfinals.
"Our goal was to reach the next stage, and we did that. I was able to play some pretty good minutes and am pretty satisfied with my first season," said Voeller, who is playing his first season internationally. "The level of the EuroCup is very high. There are very good players, very good teams, and there is the extra challenge of being on the road a lot. Playing in two competitions is definitely demanding."
While most 30-year-olds have a professional career of 10 years behind them already, Voeller is still relatively young to professional basketball, playing just his third season in Germany's top flight. He was still playing in Germany's second division at 27 years of age.
"I am not the youngest for basketball, but I still think I can continue to develop," Voeller says. "The game has gotten slower for me. I am able to make decisions quicker. That was something that I was missing. That has gotten increasingly better."
Basketball is not as new to Voeller now as it was in his younger years, however. With a father like his, Marco started with football, of course.
"I had a good friend in school who played basketball. That's how I was introduced to basketball, and also by playing on a basket in front of the house. I ended up going to a club with him and it was fun. I did both for a while, football and basketball. And then eventually football and the training and games on the weekend weren't any fun any more. I rediscovered fun with basketball. It was the same but it was fun again."
Papa Voeller never had a problem that his son choose basketball over football.
"My father was happy that I found something that made me happy, that was the most important," the younger Voeller says. "It wasn't important for him that I play football. He was happy that I found something, and it was important that I was active. I think it sparked a little interest in basketball in him. He was at a lot of games when I was younger, and also now. It's fun for him to watch, and I think he knows the game a bit more now."
Marco Voeller's late jump to professional basketball was at least partially due to his father, who wanted him to make sure he had an education to fall back on.
"For my father, it was important that you also learn something away from sports," said Voeller, who studied international sports management and graduated after four years in 2014. "I saw early on that it was pretty important for him. He really valued that. Sport is fun but you have to do more because you never know what will happen."
After university, Voeller played in the German second division with Oettinger Rockets and jumped to the first with Giessen 46ers for the 2016-17 season. Then came the big in-season move to Frankfurt in December 2017.
"I was happy that during the season I was able to come to Frankfurt. It worked well, and I had a successful rest of the season. I come from the region and Frankfurt was always kind of my dream club," said Voeller, who grew up about 10 kilometers from Frankfurt.
"Frankfurt was always kind of my dream club."
Voeller has been well received by the club and Frankfurt decided in May 2018 to extend its contract with him until the end of the 2019-20 season.
"I am very happy that I can play here this and next season," he said.
Voeller does not really have long term goals, especially in terms of after he is done playing. But it seems almost like destiny that he uses his education and follows his father's footsteps into management. Spending years watching his father lead Bayer Leverkusen as sports director left a certain impression on Voeller – even if he didn't know it.
"I really didn't pay attention, but I grew up in an environment and saw things that other people didn't really see. And that gave me a picture of the entire professional sports – even early on. And that influenced my path."
Who knows? One day there might be a Voeller sports director in German basketball.
"A general manager or sport director is definitely something that would be nice," Voeller said. "Many guys have that as a goal. If that were to happen and I could do that, I would gladly do it."