Give refugees a chance – Liverpool star Dejan Lovren

By  for The Guardian

lovren-455128In a new documentary, the Liverpool defender opens up about being forced out of his childhood home during the Balkans conflict, losing a member of his family and then being asked to leave Germany and settle in Croatia. There is only one moment, recounting the horrors that shaped his childhood and life as a refugee from the Bosnian war, when it all seems like it might be too difficult for Dejan Lovren to continue.

Lovren is telling the story of how he and his family had to flee their home in Kraljeva Sutjeska, the village where he grew up outside Zenica, and what happened to those who were left behind. “Zenica was attacked because it was a bigger city,” the Liverpool player explains, “but it was in these small villages where the most horrific things happened …people being brutally killed. My uncle’s brother was killed in front of other people with a knife. I never talk about my uncle because it’s quite a tough thing to talk about, but he lost his brother, one of my family members. Difficult …”

It is a remarkable piece of television, courtesy of LFC TV, and rare to see a Premier League footballer speak of such jarring memories on a club’s own TV channel. Lovren was only three years old when the civil war broke out that finished with more than 100,000 deaths. “We had everything, to be honest,” he says of their life before that point. “We never had problems. Everything went well with the neighbours – with the Muslims, with the Serbs, everyone was talking very well between each other and enjoying the life, everything was how they wanted. And then it [the war] happened.

“I wish I could explain everything but nobody knows the real truth. It just happened. It just changed through the night – war between everyone, three different cultures. People just changed. I just remember the sirens went on. I was so scared because I was thinking “bombs”. I remember my mum took me and we went to the basement, I don’t know how long we’d been sitting there, I think it was until the sirens went off. Afterwards, I remember mum, my uncle, my uncle’s wife, we took the car and then we were driving to Germany. We left everything – the house, the little shop with the food they had, they left it. They took one bag and ‘let’s go to Germany’.”


Lovren in action for Liverpool F.C in the EPL last season

His family have since told him the 500-mile journey to Munich took 17 hours, not least because of all the security stops.

“We had luck. Me and my family, we had luck. Our granddad was working in Germany and because of that he had the papers. If not, I don’t know what we could have done. Maybe I could see my parents and me under the ground. I don’t know what could’ve happened. One of my best friends in my high school – his dad was a soldier – and I remember he was crying every day. I was thinking: ‘Why?’ And he said: ‘My dad died.’ So, you know, it could have been my dad.”

In the documentary, Lovren – My Life as a Refugee, he goes on to recall how after seven years in Germany his family was told they had to leave the country they had come to think of as home. “My mum and dad were asking for permission to stay more but every six months it was declined.

The authorities said: ‘When the war is over, then you can go back.’ So every six months my mum and dad had their bags packed to go back. It was quite tough – you never had a future in Germany.

“Then that day came and they said: ‘You have two months to prepare your bags and go back.’ For me it was difficult because I had all of my friends in Germany, my life had started there. I had everything, I was happy, I was playing in a little club, my father was the coach – it was just beautiful. My mum said: ‘Germany is our second home’ and it’s true. Germany gave us their open hands. I don’t know which country could have done that, at that time, to welcome refugees from Bosnia.”

The Lovren family moved to Croatia where a boy with a German accent was picked on at school and the parents struggled for money. “My mum was working in Walmart for €350 per month, about £280. My father was working as a house painter. We had a difficult situation with money. My mum said: ‘We cannot pay the bills for electricity, for everything,’ and for a week we didn’t have money.

“I remember my dad took my ice skates. One day I asked my mum: ‘Where are my ice skates?’ because I loved to skate in the winter. And she said through tears: ‘Dad is selling them now … we don’t have money for this week.’ I swear this is the point in my life that I said: ‘I don’t want to hear this any more.’ He sold them for 350 Kuna, it’s about £40. My ice-skates: sold. It was a tough time for my parents.”

Speaking about these years is not easy, especially when Lovren’s own family do not always wish for it to be discussed. “It’s like the war happened yesterday. It’s quite a sensitive thing to talk about, so people still avoid talking about it – it’s sad. Mum said to me [before the documentary]: ‘Don’t tell them,’ and I said: ‘I will tell them.’ And she was crying again. It’s always sensitive to speak about. She remembers everything.

“I hope for the next generation that it’ll be much easier, for my daughter and my son, maybe they’ll forget it and move on. I don’t know if they’ll ever understand my life or my situation, what I’ve been through, because they live in totally different worlds. If my little girl wants a toy, sometimes I say: ‘I don’t have the money.’ It’s quite difficult to understand why I’m saying that but she needs to understand that nothing comes easy. I’m working hard for her so she needs to understand you don’t need 20 toys, sometimes you need just one or two and you’re still happy – it’s about other things.

“When I see what’s happening today [with refugees] I just remember my thing, my family and how people don’t want you in their country. I understand people want to protect themselves, but people don’t have homes. It’s not their fault; they’re fighting for their lives just to save their kids. They want a secure place for their kids and their futures. I went through all this and I know what some families are going through. Give them a chance, give them a chance. You can see who the good people are and who are not.”

Watch the full documentary now, for free, on LFCTV GO


By Herbert Mukuru


THIS IS ANFIELD: The feel of Liverpool F.C’s home.

Ever had that great feeling of watching your favourite team come to play and you get  sure that  game is in the bag? Hmm, I know exactly how it feels. Am a strong Liverpool FC fan and to most of my friends, they refer to me as too young to be supporting a team that has existed even before my parents were born and besides it does not have anything to show for in the last 10 years apart from that famous Istanbul Night.

Well, let’s agree to disagree. This article is my opinions as a fan who believes his team has lost out on the glory that it had.



LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JANUARY 19: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Norwich City at Anfield on January 19, 2013 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Liverpool as a team has never been short of strikers. That’s a fact that has demonstrated its self over the so many eras I have witnessed. Roger Hunt, Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler, Micheal Owen, Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez and now, none.

There are so many strikers who are meant to be on this list plus some who hold much zeal to have been Liverpool material but were too mediocre. The likes of El Hajji Diouf, Andy Caroll, Fabio Borini, (feel in whoever you want) All those names represent one thing, Gamblers.

It baffles me that a team of Liverpool’s glory has failed to replace Suarez for now close to 2years. All we did was to get that 75million pounds and spend it on totally mediocre players. In this common era and Liverpool has no 15 goal and plus striker?


They say great minds build great teams. For a club I have supported since 1999, it has managed to change ownership from the following to the following.

It is the impact of which era that might stand out i.e. trophies, managers, signings etc. When you look at teams like Chelsea, Spurs, Real Madrid, Manchester United plus others, they have managed to have somewhat permanent ownership which has eventually given the team a much needed boost in the transfer market.

For Liverpool, the George Gillett and Tom Hicks era seemed to have brought some silverware to the front and the current FSG owners have a long way to surely return that success of their predecessors. Ian Ayre seems to be the person who is running the work for them and he has managed to be the string puller of many signings to Liverpool.



Jurgen Klopp, the new LFC boss.

Do managers make the team? Yes they do. Do players rally behind one another to have a manager sacked? Yes they do, ask Jose Mourinho. Liverpool has changed management in the modern era most times than its rivals Manchester United, Arsenal, Everton.

Chelsea is the other team that has had so many managerial changes. My arguments with management is in the choices made by the owners of a specific era the manager came in. Billy Shankly (Good), Bob Paisley (very Good) King Kenny Daglish part 1 (Good).

Now over to the one’s I saw coach. Gerrard Houlleir (Good), Rafael Benitez (Very good), Roy Hodgson (poor and clueless), King Kenny Daglish part 2 (Average), Brendan Rodgers (Mediocre and lacked experience to win the first English Premier League (EPL) for the club), Jürgen Klopp (To be judged soon).

With the list of all the managers above, it is safe for you to also throw your opinion on the men in the hot seat. Why Liverpool has not yet won a Barclays premier league trophy to this day, I don’t know why?


A whole host of them have been made by the managers above. We as fans sometimes rush to draw conclusions on certain signings but there are those I would like to throw some light on, who again in my opinion are/were not Liverpool material. By Liverpool material I mean, certain pressures are meant to build up if you’re playing for a big club like this one. Andy Caroll buying him for 35million pounds, Rickie Lambert,  Adam Lallana has failed to hit the heights of southampton, Dejan Lovren to me has never lived up to the expectations of playing for Liverpool, Sakho (hmm) he looks solid but so prone to mistakes.

There are many more players I can single out basing on all the times they have played a game for Liverpool, the list is quite endless.

THE 2013/2014 SEASON


What a spectacular season it was. Brief recap of the 12-13 season ended when we were no.7 and Suarez was found guilty of his desire to outmuscle players.

See the thing about this great talent is the hope, anger, desire and rage he got. Suarez to me lives, eats, breathes football and with the great teammates he was surrounded with,you could see cause for his actions. So the next season kicked off with Daniel Sturridge as the lone striker.

Simon Mignolet, fresh debut and he saved a Jonathan Walters penalty in the dying minutes of that season opener. Liverpool set the ball rolling and we were in for drama in the upcoming games. The following 2 games were won by the same scoreline. Midway through the season Liverpool were tittle chasers and top by Christmas.

You all know the statics of the teams that have been top of the log by December 25, have gone on to win it. Manager Brendan Rodgers didn’t allow that tittle talk to dwell into the minds of his players because we had big fixtures in Chelsea and Manchester City to play just before the year sunk.

By the time these fixtures were played, Liverpool had lost it’s lead on top of the table and they were up against history.

Could Liverpool be the first team top of the table by Christmas and fail to win the tittle? January was a bit of a mixed month for Liverpool because they (players) really needed to discover themselves.

From February, Liverpool went on a winning streak and heavily defeated teams like Arsenal, Spurs, Norwich, Stoke et al.

You see, the beauty about this Liverpool team was that it was not afraid to bang in the goals with it’s formidable partnership SAS. This combination got the best out of all Liverpool squad players because chances were created, assists made and Sterling, Henderson, Glen Johnson, Sakho, Jon Flanagan all played to their best ability.

It was a routine for the fans to wait for the team bus from Anfield road and sing the famous Liverpool songs. Surely the players believed it was their time and they played so much in their minds because some matches were so nervy to watch. We bang in 5 goals and the opposition bangs in 3. That pressure was so intense in that any mistake could sink Liverpool’s tittle hopes.

Over to the game that in my opinion rounded off Liverpool’s season. Liverpool vs Chelsea was billed up for the greatness in the game. SAS VS Oscar, Hazard, Teacher vs Student. This game had it all, it was a given for Liverpool by the ‘legendary’ Jose Mourinho in his previous Champions League game against Atletico Madrid because he lost a number of his first team players to injury.

In fact, his Chelsea side was eliminated from this stage in the champions league. In his press conference, he asserted that he would bring out a weak team to line up against a team which had a full week’s rest. Team sheets were out and indeed for the first time in my life, I believed Jose and did not throw any bunter towards him.

Kick off:

Liverpool in all it’s previous 11 winning streak started strong by having the first say. Chelsea were not to be pushed back. They sat deep and defended and in the modern saying of that time, they packed the ‘BUS’.

Rodgers’ tactics and in this experience demanded for the team to push on and on in a game that needed a draw for you to have one hand on the prestigious trophy that has eluded Liverpool to date.

A misplaced Sakho pass to the back tracking Liverpool Captain Steven Gerrard ensured that Chelsea were 1 up going into half time. Guess you know what that result meant to the table considering the fact that Man city had little weaker opponents to contend.

Chelsea managed another goal when all Liverpool players were caught on the counter and boom, we were staring at the first losers of being top by Christmas and not winning it. Everybody was left shocked and here in Uganda, I cried. I could not believe we just lost it.

The 3-3 Crystal Palace game was not where we lost it, it just played a minor role in us giving up completely because it showed the desire Suarez had to win it with us. He had promised Liverpool that if he got them into the Champions League again, he would be on his way out. That season in a nutshell proved to the world that Liverpool was again a big power house to deal with.


Benteke-Henderson-Can-Mignolet-FirminoBarcelona were reported to be interested in signing Luis Suarez. Now remember the seasons before Liverpool were engaged in the Suarez vs. Arsenal transfer battle which was won.

Here we had Barcelona, desiring to add more fire power to its squad and which opportunity Suarez to date some analysts believe was engineered with his world cup bite on Chellini.

Could Liverpool allow their name to be rolled over in a matter of months?Didn’t think so. July 11, 2014, Suarez was a Barcelona player going for 75 million pounds.

Hot deal! Hot money! What would Liverpool do? Reinforce.  Who comes in and who goes out? Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovren, Lazar Markovic, Adam Lallana, Divock Origi, Mario Ballotelli.

It is important to note that the players that came in were all first starters in their previous teams and surely they were expected to step onto the gas immediately. What they offered was what I could call small team performances because their teams had less exceptions.

Rodgers decided to hang onto these players for most of his matches and I do not even know where most of them are. Surprisingly, we bought most of them expensively and sold them just to cut our losses.

Gerrard the leader of the team was reduced to a bench warmer in a move that angered most fans and to date, I blame Rodgers for forcing him out of Liverpool. There is a reason as to why Andrea Pirlo at that age still played for Juventus (experience).

When he announced that he will be quitting, Liverpool after 27 years of service, I was not surprised at all. How did Rodgers leave Gerrard on the bench for the Real Madrid, Manchester United games? Ridiculous.

For a manager to say he is managing one’s game time and you fail to play one individual in a big game baffles me. When you look at the games that Gerrard did not play, you could see that Rodgers was nothing but a mediocre manager. Liverpool was beyond him now.

Raheem Sterling’s move to a great rival in Man city also left a sour taste in my mouth. All his words were aimed at him getting silverware which Liverpool would not provide under Rodgers even if he was still manager to date. Sterling did not see the reason to play in a team without any one apart from Martin Skrtel and Daniel Sturridge who by the way was already injured.



Today’s football is based on results and for any manager who doesn’t deliver has been shown the exit. We now leaving in the sack race era and many impatient owners become quite impatient if you cannot deliver.

Rodgers had turned us into quite a small team and the teams we used to put to the sword were giving us a hard time. West Ham, Crystal Palace and many others have continued making Liverpool their boggy team.

The young lads from the academy show great glimpses of a unified Liverpool and if only many can come through and help on push the great Liverpool forward.

Jürgen Klopp has come in and managed few wins from this poor side and I will surely give an opinion about him the coming season after recently assuring the fans plus the press that he holds the rights to the signings he will make.

Rodgers appeared recently on Sky Sports and he said that Liverpool was much involved in the signings and he did not have a final say. Less like he was forced onto some players and overall the players in my opinion were not Liverpool class.


  1. Can Liverpool finally land that one wonderful 30 plus striker? Like I said before, we have always had that knack for such a striker. Is the current Forward Benteke one? Not at all.
  2. Will the truth about Daniel Sturridge be revealed. I’m thinking he can be like Robin Van Persie and eventually rise to stardom? What makes me doubt that happening is the fact that his injuries are inherited. Both Father and Uncle suffered similar injuries and had to quit the game early. What does Liverpool do for such a player with such great striking ability?
  3. Will Jürgen Klopp return the lost pride to Anfield? This famous stadium used to be a fortress and when the fans sang You Will Never Walk Alone, it could suddenly send shivers down my spine. Am anticipating for an improved Liverpool at home.
  4. Does Liverpool have a real leader? I ask so because from the times of Hypia, Carragher, Gerrard, you could feel the impact of certain players plus their captain. No disrespect to Jordan Henderson but I feel when Liverpool is playing, it lacks a leader on pitch. Someone with great command. Martin Sktel maybe would have done it for me.

Klopp is the right man for Liverpool but I suggest he gets more time. I wish he could just bring some sort of stability to the team and we eventually move on.

With all the above, I cannot wait for Liverpool to turn the corner with silverware because it is what has been on many fans lips.

The writer is a Liverpool fan at large.

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AARON RAMSEY says Arsenal will attack Monaco

Aaron Ramsey insists Arsenal will attack Monaco [AFP]

Aaron Ramsey insists Arsenal will attack Monaco [AFP]

AARON RAMSEY says Arsenal will attack Monaco from the off in their bid to book an unlikely place in the Champions League quarter-finals.

The Gunners lost the first leg 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium meaning they have to win by three clear goals on Tuesday.

Arsenal warmed up for their trip to the Stade Louis II by beating West Ham 3-0 in the Premier League and Ramsey is optimistic about their chances against the Principality club.

He said: “We need to score goals. So we will go there and try to score three or more goals and hopefully not concede any. That’s our target and that’s how we will approach it.

“We had a sloppy first leg and we’ve made it quite difficult for ourselves but it’s not over yet. We are more than capable of scoring three goals.

“We scored three today and we believe in ourselves. We’ll go into the game believing we can achieve that.”

Mesut Ozil echoed Ramsey’s comments and admitted Arsenal need to score early to stand any chance of reaching the last eight.

“For us to progress, we have to play in the way we know we can.

“We want to disrupt their rhythm and try to score early.

“It’s going to be difficult to score three times as they have defended well in the tournament so far.

“But if you look at our past matches and the way we played against Manchester United last week, I think there’s a chance we can progress.”

Africa Cup of Nations Semi-Final preview: Ivory Coast vs DR Congo


Africa Cup of Nations

  • Venue: Estadio de Bata
  • Date: Wednesday, 4 February
  • Kick-off: 19:00 GMT


Ivory Coast midfielder Cheik Tiote may feature after recovering from an ankle injury that has kept him out of the last two matches.

Coach Herve Renard said: “Tiote has started light training. It will be difficult for him to start the game, but he is in the squad.”

DR Congo coach Florent Ibenge said he will not risk playing captain Youssouf Mulumbu, who he says is “70% fit”.

Defender Gabriel Zakuani is out after spraining his ankle against Congo.


Ivory Coast are aiming to reach their second final in three years and ease the pain of losing on penalties to Zambia in 2012.

Renard was in charge of Chipolopolo that day but he says he has not spoken to his Elephants squad about his victory over them.

The Frenchman says “I am only interested in winning” with Ivory Coast and believes the team has the team has the “perfect” blend of experience and youth to finally secure a second title.

However, after watching DR Congo come back from two goals down to beat Congo 4-2 in their quarter-final, he is not underestimating the Leopards.

“It’s a very dangerous team and I think their spirit is very strong,” he said.

Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure battles with DR Congo's Jean Kasusula

DR Congo shocked Ivory Coast in Adbidjan in October

And Max Gradel remembers the sides’ last meeting in the qualifiers in October when DR Congo won 4-3 – although the striker believes the Elephants will use that defeat as extra motivation.

“It is going to be a good game. DR Congo defeated us in Abidjan during the qualifiers, but this time it will be different. We are going to prepare well to get through,” he said.

“It’s together that we are going to go all the way. We are going to work to finish the job.”

DR Congo coach Ibenge expects Ivory Coast “will now want to avenge that loss”.

“We hurt their pride when we beat them at home, the big Ivory Coast. They had not lost at home during the generation of Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure,” he said.

“But we are also armed with the motivation to reach the final. That is our target.”

Ibenge, who was appointed last August and combines the role with being boss of AS Vita Club in Kinshasa, is the only African coach left in the tournament.

He admits that DR Congo’s progress is ahead of schedule but believes winning the title is now a possibility – provided they can put the euphoria of the quarter-final win over Congo behind them.

“It will be extraordinary to be champions here. It will be a big achievement,” said the 52-year-old.

“It will prove we are winners and it will make our people, who are going through a difficult time, happy again.

“This tournament was not our main target. We were aiming at the 2017 competition, but now we are still here. It’s a bonus for us and with this bonus we are taking it a step at a time.

“That’s what I keep telling my players – live for today, not the next day, and every time try and be better and don’t have any regrets.

“This is how we started this tournament and we will continue with this philosophy.”


  • DR Congo have reached the final four of an Afcon tournament for the first time since 1998, in which they finished third. They last made the final in 1974, winning the competition (as Zaire)
  • Ivory Coast have made the semi-final for the fourth time in six Africa Cup of Nations. They’ve reached the final twice in that time, but finished as runners-up on both occasions (2006 and 2012)
  • This will be the first time the two sides have met in the knockout stage of the competition – there is one win apiece and a draw in the previous three group stage clashes
  • Their last Afcon contest saw DR Congo win 3-1 in 2002, as they progressed to the quarter-finals
  • The Leopards have yet to score in the first half of any game at the tournament. In fact, their earliest goal so far has come in the 65th minute
  • Wilfried Bony and Dieumerci Mbokani both grabbed braces in the quarter-finals, their first goals at the tournament
  • Both Bony and Mbokani have had 15 shots at the tournament, more than any other player (including blocks). However, Mbokani has had more on target (6 to Bony’s 4)
  • Yannick Bolasie has created more chances than any other player at Afcon 2015 (10)
  • Yaya Toure has attempted more passes at this tournament than any other player (191).