Gnabry: 'Restrictive' gender roles and traditional idea of masculinity holding footballers back

Serge Gnabry Bayern Munich 2019-20
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The Bayern Munich and Germany star is in the form of his life and thinks professional football has room to improve in looking after its players

Bayern Munich and Germany star Serge Gnabry believes traditional ideas of masculinity are outdated, including when it comes to talking about modern football.

The 24-year-old former Arsenal winger continued his meteoric rise on Wednesday evening, scoring his 10th international goal on only his 11th appearance in a 2-2 friendly draw with Argentina.

Gnabry has faced struggles in his young career, most notably in a difficult loan spell at West Brom while with the Gunners. But after returning to Germany with Werder Bremen, Hoffenheim and now Bayern, he is now establishing himself as one of the most effective attacking widemen in world football.

“For me, it is more important to be a good person than a good man,” he told GQ Germany as part of their ‘New Masculinity’ campaign.

“For me, this is someone who looks out for his environment, who wants good for other people, who is honest and forward-thinking.

“Gender roles provide orientation. But they also restrict you. Masculinity in the classical sense is not important to me, it's always about being the strongest. But the topic of ‘New Masculinity’ interests me a lot. For me, new masculinity means freedom, openness and respect for individual ways of life.”

Gnabry spoke about the positive influence of his father, who accompanied him when he moved to England at the age of just 16.

Serge Gnabry, Kai Havertz, Germany

He says his guidance as a man and a footballer helped him avoid bad influences and develop an openness and honesty about his thoughts and feelings.

“If my team lost a really important game, I cried in front of him,” Gnabry said. “Once, when he was our coach and shouted at me for mistakes of my teammates.

“But that made me harder. That's what characterizes you for life. You can handle criticism better. My dad has accompanied my whole career and has always been there for me. Through football we have a mega-tight bond. He is a role model for me.

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“In competitive sports, it is often presented as a weakness when we talk about pressure, when we reveal our feelings, what we really think and feel. But every person has weaknesses and fears.

“This is often forgotten because, like machines, we always have to accelerate, always have to perform. If we talked more about feelings, things would change. It would be clear that we are only human, that we make mistakes, that it can’t always go well.

“Maybe this would be a way to escape the pressure, to perform anew, to react anew and to have a different self-confidence.”