His story had barely started before it had ended. It’s May 4th 2002 and Hansa Rostock are taking on the mighty Bayern München. In the 70th minute the 22-year-old Kevin Hansen gets the chance to come on for the experienced Steffen Baumgart. Twelve minutes later the elegant midfielder, who at the time was considered to be among the biggest talents within German football, puts the ball in front of himself to take a free kick. His team is 2-0 down at that point. However, once Hansen moves swiftly towards the ball and kicks it, it only take a fraction of a second to spot that the legendary Oliver Kahn doesn’t stand a popsicle’s chance in hell to get to that ball.
Even though Hansen manages to get The Cog back into the game, Hansa end up losing the match 3-2. Afterwards the midfielder phoned his dad, barely making it through the phone call. Scoring a goal against Bayern in the Bundesliga might very well be the start of a great career in the Bundesliga the public and the player alike were thinking. Hansen recalls that he was weeping as he spoke with his father about the match. His parents used to take Kevin to the Volksparkstadion in Hamburg to watch Thomas Doll play. The kid who once admired the elegant midfield maestro from East-Germany had the talent to become as big a star, and now he had shown everybody a glimpse of what he could do. The wait to get there had seemingly been long. Hansen’s parents had driven around East-Germany to see their son in action whenever he played for Hansa’s second team(even when they were playing in some god forlorn village). The way they had been following his career meant a lot to Hansen. He showed them that by buying them a flat from his first wage as a professional.
“Stick out your chest!”
However, that one fleeting moment would be as close to glory as Kevin Hansen would ever come. On match day 4 the youngster got another chance showing off his talents. In the match against Leverkusen he needed only 17 minutes to create one assist. However, whatever little playing time Veh would give his youngster wasn’t sufficient to allow him to blossom in the league. Only three starts before the winter break weren’t as many chances as Hansen would have hoped.
At the start of the Rückrunde in the match against 1860 Munich Hansen had one of those days were everything went wrong. After 36 minutes Armin Veh had seen enough and took him off the pitch. In the following weeks the midfielder was suffering from low confidence and lack of playing time, as he found it hard to adjust to the pace and the harshness of Bundesliga football. Back in those days the willingness to give talents a chance wasn’t that great.
“Stick out your chest”, Veh would yell at his midfielder, hoping that he should him something. Hansen on the other hand felt that he wasn’t given the confidence he needed by his coach. Once again the youngster is sent back down to play for the second team. A step back. During one of those training sessions with the amateurs of the club Hansen suddenly hears the sound of a breaking bone after he had been up in the air for a header. It’s his bone.
Pain, pain go away
After months of different treatments the midfielder still feels the pain. There are a few more matches for Hansa in the Bundesliga 2. A new start at Aue doesn’t work out for him as the bone simply won’t work. After 10 operations there’s nothing more than doctors can do for the player. At the age of 28 Hansen retires from professional football.
Eighteen matches and 2 goals in the Bundesliga and the one goal from 9 matches in the Bundesliga tells the story of a rather mediocre player. However, those who have seen him play during his younger days swear that there was something of a Netzeresque vibe about how Hansen could handle the ball. The way he controlled and passed it. And the way he could float shots into the top corner of the goal.
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Hansen scores from a free kick against LR Ahlen
Many talents who had the potential to be great fall by the wayside at some point. For Hansen it might have been the fact that he didn’t have a coach who believed in him or wanted him to play bad enough. Furthermore, the injuries and the pain that came from that one training session on an icy pitch may very well have cost him several matches and maybe even years as a professional. Even if the talent is there, it’s no good as long as it isn’t paired with a bit of luck they say. Hansen stories is one of the many tales out there proving that very point.
The fall from grace – “We knew he had done criminal things in the past”
After retiring from professional football early, Hansen moves back to his native Hamburg in 2008. Back at home he gets to know a man by the name of Costa. “Within our group of friends we knew that he had a criminal past, but we thought these days were behind him”, Hansen confessed later. The two men get along splendidly, spending nights out on the town or watching movies by Quentin Tarantino throughout the entire night. Costa, it turns out, lives a bit off the pace outside of Hamburg. Hansen likes his new mate a lot and gives him a key to his apartment.
A few weeks later his friend turns up at the training ground of Hamm United, the lower league team that Hansen has decided to join after retiring from professional football. Hansen is informed that there’s a bag full of money at his place. A bit annoyed Hansen gets home, but upon opening his cabinet he sees why Costa had informed him about the money. “There was millions(of Euros)”, Hansen told 11 Freunde. When he asks about the money at his place his friend simply tells him:
“If things go wrong you won’t have anything to do with it.”
These days the former Hansa player admits that he was acting “far too naive” in that situation. The consequences come rushing into his life on April 12th 2010. On that day Hansen is surrounded by 8 special force police officers when he and his girlfriend wake up in his bed. Costa, it turns out, was the head of a drug gang called Paraguayos. After many months of investigating the gang the police manages to stop a ship with the staggering amount of 1.33 tons of cocaine on board – street value: 40 million Euros.
Some of the tabloid press make Hansen out to be the main man. However, after offering his testimony in exchange for being put into the witness protection program the midfielder gets sentenced to 2 and a half years in jail.