December 12, 2017

From big talent to garbage man – The story of Kevin Pannewitz

He was once touted as one of the emerging midfield talents in Germany. As a 16-year-old in 2008 Kevin Pannewitz made the jump from Tennis Borussia Berlin’s youth team to Hansa Rostock. His talents as midfielder were soon discovered, and the midfielder was given his Regionalliga Nord (fourth tier) debut on match day 8 of the 2009/10 season. The same year he started training with Hansa’s first team and on November 2nd Pannewitz found himself starting for Hansa against FC St. Pauli.

At that time he was regarded as one of the up and coming talents that potentially could make the jump from the second tier to the Bundesliga and maybe even the national team. In his first season as a Bundesliga 2 player Pannewitz was even invited to attend a seminar of the Under 19 national team.

As Hansa Rostock went down to the third tier Pannewitz turned out to become one of their pillars, playing 35 of 38 matches in the 2010/11 season. A move to the Bundesliga was on hand, but his eating problems meant that the club had to watch his weight. Every Thursday he was weighed, as the club’s coaching personnel tried to reduce his weight below 84 kilos.

Pannewitz tried to accomplish that goal by working up a sweat shortly before he was weighed, but often times he failed to reach his goal as fast food and sweets were his nemesis. A move to Werder Bremen fell through when he once again was seen drinking massive amounts of alcohol in public. Looking back on those days, the 23-year-old told Bild:

“I lost the fight against myself. I would have needed somebody to keep an eye out for me for 24 hours per day.”

In the following Bundesliga 2 season the midfielder started 11 matches of the season under coach Peter Vollmann, but the coach decided to demote him to the second team after Pannewitz had once again overstepped the boundaries. However, after Vollmann was sacked new coach Wolfgang Wolf decided to give the gifted midfielder yet another chance. In the Rückrunde of the season Pannewitz was used in a total of 10 matches.

Pannewitz and Magath – A bad mix

Despite having a reputation for being difficult to handle Felix Magath took an interest in the emerging talent. Pannewitz was invited to take part in a few training sessions at Wolfsburg at the start of the 2012/13 season and Quälix was seemingly convinced that he’d be able to whip the boy into shape.


Pannewitz during one of his first training sessions at Wolfsburg.

However, as it turned out hardcore discipline and high amounts of physically demanding training wasn’t what Pannewitz enjoyed most. In October Magath told Bild that his new signing wasn’t exactly up to his standards:

“Pannewitz is a breakdown. He complains about diarrhea, yet he has managed to put on 4 or 5 kilos. That’s unusual.”

The player himself was at that point still convinced that he could make it, but after a year out in the cold and only two matches for Wolfsburg’s U23 side the club and the player decided to go their separate ways.

New beginnings

After his year in Wolfsburg Panewitz joined fourth tier side Goslar SC, but after a promising start this union failed too. At that point it became clear, also for the player himself, that he wouldn’t make it to the Bundesliga.

Persently, though, things are looking brighter. Pannewitz and his girlfriend Jill are expecting their first child in October. The midfielder has now joined sixth tier side VSG Altglienicke and he’s hoping that he’ll be successful in securing a job as a garbage man. About his past Pannewitz has told Bild:

“I made my mistakes and those were punished and that’s all right. I’m done with that now and I’m now wanting to live a grounded life.”

If he’s successful in securing a job as a garbage man Pannewitz will start his shifts at 6:30 in the morning, which was usually the time he went to bed back in the past he jokingly stated.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 30-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball and on the @AufstiegPod.