David Alaba: ‘Living the dream’

As football mania seizes the world The Local profiles 22-year-old David Alaba, who plays for German club Bayern Munich and holds Austria's record as the youngest player to play for the national team.

David Alaba: 'Living the dream'
David Alaba. Photo: APA/Osterauer

Austria’s football team may not have qualified for the World Cup in Brazil but that doesn’t mean the country isn’t football crazy.

There is only one Austrian involved in the tournament – Andreas Herzog, Jürgen Klinsmann’s assistant coach for the American team – but it's rising star David Alaba of whom the nation is really proud.

Born in Vienna, Alaba began his career with SV Aspern, his local club in the city’s 22nd district, before joining the youth team of FK Austria Wien, aged ten.

He has 30 caps for Austria, and made his Bayern debut aged 17 in February 2010. He’s been described as one of Bayern’s key players. A talented and versatile midfielder, Alaba has established himself as Bayern's first-choice left-back, and in 2013 he signed a contract extension to keep him at the club until 2018.

Alaba’s mother emigrated to Austria from the Philippines to work as a nurse, and his Yoruba Nigerian father is a prince from Ogere – and also works as a rapper and DJ.

According to his father, Alaba has “the best of three continents. His ambition and will to succeed are very African, while his work rate is Austrian. From his mother he gets respect. You have to have respect in life.”

Alaba stands out as a prominent black sports personality in a country not known for being particularly multi-cultural, and a society that is often accused of being racist.

In 2012 the Austrian broadcaster ORF had to apologise to Alaba after he complained of being racially insulted in a television comedy sketch. In the sketch one of the show's white hosts was painted black to represent Alaba and another host played Austro-Canadian billionaire Frank Stronach.

The presenter playing Stronach called the Alaba character a “black man”, saying, “You probably live in a refugee camp.” He then held up a banana and asked, “What is this? You probably know this, you've always seen them. It's a banana.”

Alaba's legal representative complained to the ORF after an initial request to withdraw the clip from the internet was ignored.

The show's presenters, Dirk Stermann and Christoph Grissemann apologised for causing offence, and said it was never their intention to insult Alaba. At the time Bayern spokesman Markus Hoerwick said that such an incident "wouldn't be possible in Germany" and that should also be the case in Austria.

Alaba has been voted Austrian footballer of the year several times running and his face can be seen across the country in a Bank Austria advertising campaign for smart banking.

He embodies “a new generation of the young and young at heart who want to be able to bank where, when, and how they want,” a press release from the bank reads.

He describes Munich as his second home, and says he feels “very comfortable” there. His favourite food is “mama’s cooking”. Alaba is a Christian and a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

He says that money has only played “an incidental role in his career”, and that to play for one of the best clubs in the world is what counts.  

“I’m living my dream. Every morning I wake up and think to myself, cool, it doesn’t get better than this!” he told


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.