Nearly all the Swiss stars earn their living at foreign clubs. One of the most successful foreign professionals is Ludovic Magnin.
Magnin tells swissinfo that he enjoys playing for Stuttgart because the German city is located near to his homeland.
The Gottlieb Daimler Stadium is, along with the Mercedes Benz museum, the most remarkable architectural structure in the industrial area to the East of the city. Some 50,000 fans flock to the football temple every other Saturday to support Stuttgart or their opponents.
Even on normal training days, many fans and journalists make the pilgrimage to the stadium no matter how cold it is so they can see the professionals at close quarters. Sometimes, the stars give interviews, or at least autographs. For more than two years Magnin has belonged to the main squad at Stuttgart.
As a youngster, he also used to collect the autographs of the stars of his day. He was particularly pleased with that of Franc Verlaat, but he never thought he would play alongside the Dutch star in the same team ten years later.
In the meantime, Magnin had already twice won the German championship and established himself as one of the key players in Swiss national team.
His dream now is that "the roads in Swiss cities are blocked with celebrating people because we have become European champions".
The left back's energy and enthusiasm is clear – on and off the pitch. No player sings the national anthem as loudly and passionately as Ludovic Magnin.
Football mad family
"Perhaps I no longer sing as beautifully as a child, but I sing from the heart," he told swissinfo. He gets goose bumps when singing in front of 35,000 fans in Bern or Basel – "this gives me enormous inner strength".
Magnin plays for the German Bundesliga side not just for money and prestige, but also for his family. "It is important for us that our homeland is not too far away," he said.
He enjoys being in Stuttgart, but he also feels like a foreigner. "I get homesick because I am away from home."
Home for Magnin is Echellens, in canton Vaud, where his parents and best friends live. "I go home, even during holidays, to refresh my memories," he said. Such memories include kicking a ball for hours against a gate that his father had built in the garden.
His mother did not get cross even when he ruined the roses. She was also crazy about football and played in the village women's team. "My whole family is football mad," Magnin admits.
Even as a schoolboy, Magnin dreamed of a career as a professional football player. "But when I answered the teacher's question about what I wanted to do for a living, the whole class laughed at me," he recalled.
Life outside football
But his parents supported his passion as long as he kept up his schoolwork. "Once you finish your studies, you can pursue a career in football," was the rule at home.
Because of this, Magnin not only has a lucrative professional football career, but he also holds a teaching diploma. "I had a lot of fun working with children and I was very close to the class," he said.
Today, Magnin has fun with his own children, although they are still not particularly interested in football. "My eldest son is six and I know he is not as inspired by football as I was," Magnin said. But he is dedicated to supporting his family whatever they choose to do. "It does not necessarily have to be football."
The Magnin family has close friendships in Stuttgart with people who do not have anything to do with football.
"It is very important for me and my wife to do different things with them. For example having a barbecue outside, close to nature. My parents used to do that with me, and my children also enjoy it exactly the same – if their dad had time for them."
swissinfo, Peter Siegenthaler
Ludovic Magnin professional
1998-2000: FC Yverdon Sport.
2000-2001: FC Lugano.
2002-2006: Werder Bremen: 2004 German league champions and Cup winners.
Since 2006: VfB Stuttgart: 2007 German league champions. Transferred for €3.5 million (SFr5.5 million).
Swiss national team since 2000.
Ludovic Magnin private
Born in April 1979, Magnin is 185cms tall and weighs 76kgs.
He grew up in Echallens, canton Vaud, in a "football mad family". His father played for a third division football team and his mother for the local village women's side.
Magnin has a primary school teaching diploma.
He is married to Chantale and has two sons: Nicos (born 2000) and Thierry (2006).
The Magnin family has lived for two years in the suburbs of Stuttgart.
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