Jordan Brown and Eintracht Norderstedt are looking forward to their DFB-Pokal match against Bayer Leverkusen next Sunday (15:30 CEST). The 28-year-old played at Norderstedt in his youth before moving to the Swiss first division. In an interview with DFB.de, Jordan Brown discusses Leverkusen, Leon Bailey and the dark side of professional football.
DFB.de: Jordan Brown, are you happy to be playing Bayer 04 Leverkusen or would you have wanted to face an easier opponent?
Jordan Brown: I’m pleased on the one hand because Bayer Leverkusen are an attractive opponent, but you also want to progress to the next round as a sportsman. Leverkusen have a strong side and they’ll make it difficult. Nonetheless, if Leverkusen have a bad day and we play at our best, then maybe we can do it. We certainly hope so.
DFB.de: Which players are you looking forward to playing against in particular?
Brown: Above all, I’d like to play against Leon Bailey because he’s a countryman of mine (Brown has a Jamaican father). I think you can look forward to playing all of their players as they’re all such high-quality footballers.
DFB.de: Eintracht Norderstedt have given up their home advantage, so the match will take place in the Bayarena. What do you make of this decision as a player?
Brown: I see it two ways. Obviously it’s cool to play in a really big stadium, but it’s a shame that there won’t be any fans in attendance. In the DFB-Pokal, David takes on Goliath and the fans push the smaller team all the way – that’s what makes it what it is. There’s always the danger at Leverkusen that it’ll become a training game for them with no fans there.
DFB.de: What result would you be happy with?
Brown: I’ll only be happy if we win the game. But if you’re realistic about it, we need to keep a clean sheet for as long as possible and make life difficult for Leverkusen.
DFB.de: Eintracht Norderstedt have made it to the DFB-Pokal once before in August 2017, when they narrowly lost 1-0 to VfL Wolfsburg. What memories do you have of that game?
Brown: I have really positive memories because we disrupted Wolfsburg’s rhythm and didn’t let them come into the game. They only took the lead in the second half. We even had a great chance of our own when our midfielder Philipp Koch hit the post. The game could’ve been very different, but the side with more quality went through in the end.
DFB.de: Lots of football fans in Germany have presumably never heard of Eintracht Norderstedt. How would you introduce your club to them?
Brown: I think that Eintracht Norderstedt has built up a good reputation in North Germany in the last few years. We’re a very family-oriented club that performs well. We have lots of young and hungry players who want to prove themselves. Everyone has a great opportunity against Bayer Leverkusen to make themselves known in Germany and make Norderstedt more well-known at the same time.
DFB.de: You come from Eintracht Norderstedt’s youth system yourself and made a career as a professional footballer from there…
Brown: Yes that’s right. After that, I went to Hamburger SV’s second team at the age of 19. I had a great season in the fifth division and wanted to move up to the Bundesliga, but I didn’t think that that’s what every player wants. The competition was huge. I had to get used to the quality first.
DFB.de: Did you have a chance of getting into the Hamburger SV first team at the time?
Brown: Yes, I trained with them a couple of times and also played in friendlies – it was really interesting. Particularly because you realize that even the players who aren’t among the greatest footballers are still really brilliant players in truth. The more often you train with them, the more you get used to the level.
DFB.de: In the summer of 2013, you made the move to Swiss second-division side FC Wil. A year and a half later, you went to Grasshopper Club Zürich and made two appearances in the first division. How do you look back on that time?
Brown: I had a good time on the whole in Switzerland. I was 21 at the time, and it was my first time abroad. I particularly enjoyed it at FC Wil. Then our coach and director of football Axel Thoma went to Zürich and took me with him. That was a huge step for me. The training facilities were amongst the finest, like in the Bundesliga.
Brown: But that meant that there was huge competition. There were players in the side like Munas Dabbur, now at TSG Hoffenheim, and Kim Källström, who has played at Arsenal and Olympique Lyon, for example. The players were top-quality. I didn’t play many games for Zürich unfortunately. The circumstances had a part to play in that too.
DFB.de: Which circumstances do you mean?
Brown: Our director of football, who took me with him to Zürich, left the club after a few months. That made my position difficult, because I was his signing and he didn’t leave on amicable terms. You could see after that that I didn’t really get any more opportunities. I was loaned to the second division again after that to FC Wohlen.
DFB.de: You then made the move back to Germany by joining Eintracht Norderstedt in the summer of 2016…
Brown: Yes, I made the decision to focus on my sport management studies, which I later completed. That’s why returned to my hometown club. I also wanted to be near my friends and family. I’ve never regretted that decision.
DFB.de: Nonetheless, it’s a huge decision to end your dream of being a professional footballer…
Brown: Yes. But I’ll say this: Especially when things aren’t going well, you look behind the scenes and see how bad some things in professional football are. If you don’t fit in, like me in Zürich for example, you don’t get any more opportunities. I’m still sure that I should’ve played more games. Then my career might have been different. But when the head coach doesn’t let you play, perhaps because of instructions from above, you ask yourself: Do I really want to make a living doing this until I’m 35? I decided not to.