'Football business is full of sharks', German football agent tasks African intermediaries and players to keep their words

By Daily Sports on July 14, 2018

Top German football agent Dietmar Wendorff was in Benin City recently for a five-day trip on a scouting mission of some of the finest young players the city has to offer. 
He is a freelancer scout for many top clubs in Europe and the far east and also has his own football agency (Worldwide Management Network). 
His complementary card reads on top "Time to make it big". 
Mr Wendorff who was in Nigeria on the invitation of two football club managers in Benin City (Harrison Okaka of Dynamo Academica and Ferdinand Oji of Rocksters) took time off to speak with Daily Sports on a variety of topics related to managing African players and how these African players and the local players agents can really make it big in the game.
Wendorff spoke with Daily Sports senior writer Nelson Dafe. Here are excerpts of the interview :
Daily Sports: How do you find Nigeria?
Wendorff: It's quite nice. This is not my first time here, but it is with my new passport (smiles). I like it (here in Nigeria). The people are very nice, my host as well, Kaka Harrison. 
Daily Sports:Have you worked with African players before?
Wendorff: Yes I have. I've worked with Ghanaian players, Cameroonian players and some from Burundi. I invited a Tanzanian team to Germany and we made a tour across Germany where we played against the youth sides of some Bundesliga clubs. 
Daily Sports: How would you describe your experience working with these players? Business-wise, has it been worthwhile?
Wendorff: It's not always easy to work with Africa players in general because most of them don't know exactly how we think in Europe. Sometimes when we bring a player over to Europe and he smells money, he forgets where he's coming from and they think big and they forget what other people, like their academies or their intermediaries have done for them. This is always a problem. I like to work in the long term with partners in Africa, so this way I have my right hand in Africa and my left hand in Europe. And only two hands can create things. 
Daily Sports: Having had this experience, what structured plans are there in your management to help African players better integrate in western societal values?
Wendorff: Well I can give you an example and you can make your own thoughts out of it. I brought a player at the age of 17 on trials in the Netherlands and he learned something. we took him to Copenhagen in Denmark on trials and he learned some more. At the age of 18 he signed a professional contract with Mitdjylland in Denmark. Good team and he's developing well. Then an Ivory Coast player, I moved to 8 different trials over one and a half year, and I signed him and took him straight to Hadjuk Split (Croatian top flight club) and one and a half year later we sold him to Shanghai (China) for 2 million. He became a national team player. 
Every player has different mentalities and expectations and I have to bring them (the players)from the bottom because with small things you create bigger things at the end of the day. 
If we are not looking at money from the beginning, then money comes definitely at the second or the third step. So this is always the problem with the expectations of African agents, they want to make quick shots and quick money and this is not always the best way. 
Daily Sports: What advice do you have for people like the two young gentlemen Harrison Okaka and Ferdinand Oji (grassroots Club presidents of Dynamo Academica and Rocksters FC respectively) who are also players' intermediaries making the football space to bubble in Benin City,  Nigeria and who try to help youngsters go on to a more professional football life? 
Wendorff: They are not young anymore, (laughs). Normally everyone is experienced enough in his business. Everyone has made his experience and is learning out of it. A mixture, to exchange experiences from both sides, this is the key. You should not be arrogant when you're coming from Germany, for example in my case, and have worked with some really good clubs in the past, and tell the people I'm coming from here, so what I tell you is the right thing. It's not. It's always a cooperation, to exchange our ideas. My advice for African agents is for them to be more patient and to keep their words, because I've had a lot of (bad) experiences with some. It's similar with some South American players and some Balkan players. People are greedy for the money, they want to make quick shots and quick money and run away. My advice to African agents is to stay strong even if the money is coming and always think where you're coming from. 
 When you develop a project, (you should know) a project is not working in one, two, three years. A project in this case is a long term project. Players are growing at the age of 14, 15, 16. You have to stand by their side and you have to grow with them in this business. That is my advice. 
Daily Sports: You said it a little bit under your breath when you talked about trust. Do you think that there is a legal angle to sports business that should be prioritized over trust?
Wendorff: Football business is a swimming pool full of sharks. Almost 95% of the agents are trying to catch the quick money. So, you have to try to find the 5% who you can work with. So, what should I tell you? (smiles). This is my experience. There are a lot more agents than players in Africa, like Nigeria and Ghana, (smiles). This is problematic. For example when you offer one player to a team and the team is calling you back: 'ah you're number 20 on the list who's offered this player.' And this makes the name of the player immediately go down. Because in Europe they don't like when 200 people are offering the same player to the same club. But sometimes you cannot avoid it. But a Sports Director  who reads the same player's name 20 times in 20 different images, there's immediately a distance from the player and the agent).  At the end of the day, the Sports Director signs a contract with the player when the players shows the fingers of the agent. They don't care if they have 20 agents. But most serious teams in Europe take one step back when they see a player offered to them 20 times by 20 different agents. They think the player is crazy. So this is what I mean when I say not only to the agents but also the players to keep their words. 
Daily Sports: Do you have a set number of players you are targeting for selection from this trip to Benin City?
Wendorff: Normally you cannot concentrate on more than four players. When I do such a scouting trip, I want to make a choice of four players. Then I would give advice to some other players I selected and their coaches and academy owners to develop these players and maybe in half a year they will be more ready and maybe I'll be back in half a year, and.. We'll see. 
Daily Sports: Thanks Mr Dietmar for your time
Wendorff: Thank you too.

Source Daily Sports

Posted July 14, 2018


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