Stefan Markolf – the deaf defender
Germany’s first deaf professional footballer is playing for Mainz, who were relegated from the Bundesliga’s top division last season. Defender Stefan Markolf recently managed to break into the club’s first team ranks from Mainz’s amateur side. “Stefan is a very good footballer,” remarks coach Jurgen Klopp. “He is fast with a powerful left foot. The lad has shown a lot of promise.” 23-year-old Markolf was born with a 90% hearing disability. “I have two pairs of hearing aids,” he explains, “one of which is reserved for football.” Before every match, Mainz let the referee know that even though Markolf is wearing a hearing aid, he might not be able to hear everything. The referees are urged not to caution him or send him off if he carries on playing whenever they whistle. Markolf interrupted his training as a physiotherapist to respond to his urge to become a professional footballer. “I’m glad that I’ve managed to make it,” he adds with a hint of pride.