Interview by Jana Letonja

David Alaba is a professional footballer, widely regarded as one of the best defenders of his generation. He has played for two giants of the game, spending the majority of his career at Bayern Munich before completing his move to arguably the world’s biggest club, Real Madrid, in 2021.

In recent years, David has become known for his sense of style as much as his football skills. Fashion is a large part of his life and he is one that certainly doesn’t have the stereotypical footballer look.

full look BOSS

full look BOSS

David, you are currently one of the best defenders in the world of football. How did your passion for football begin? What excites you the most about it?

It’s been an incredible journey so far and I’m very grateful for it. I remember when I was 10 years old, I went to my first club and said I wanted to play football. I knew from the beginning how much I loved this sport and I had a dream inside me relatively early on that I was determined to fulfill. This dream of mine never wavered and I’m so happy for everything that has happened in my career so far.

What is your best football memory and why?

That’s a difficult question. I’ve had a lot of great moments in my career so far. I think the three Champions League titles stand out. Those were really special moments. But also my debut at Bayern, my debut in the national team and my new chapter with Real Madrid. I have achieved many goals, won many titles, but I’d say my whole journey has been a highlight for me.

Can you tell us something about your origins? What was it like growing up in a multicultural household?

My mother is from Davao in the Philippines and moved to Austria where she met my father who had also emigrated to Austria from Nigeria. Even though I was born in Vienna, my childhood felt very international. A lot of my mother’s family also live in Vienna so growing up, I spent a lot of time with my aunts and cousins. I loved it. 

In the recent year, you became kind of a fashion icon and you most definitely dont have that stereotypical footballer look. What is it about fashion that intrigues you about it so much?

Fashion and clothes are a big part of who I am. I’d say my interest in fashion started relatively early as my parents were very particular about my appearance whenever I left the house. I try to show my personality with my style and feel like it’s a way for me to express myself. I think music being an important part of my life has also helped as the two go hand in hand. Drawing inspiration from that culture has definitely informed my style. Seeing Pharrell over at LV is a great example of how the two worlds collide. 

coat LOEWE

How did you get immersed in the fashion world?

A few years ago we went and checked out a few shows at Milan Fashion Week and from there I became more and more interested in fashion on a deeper level. Understanding more about the brands, the designers, the shows and the world of fashion works. I work with a stylist and we’re always sending each other ideas about things we’ve seen or which designer is doing something cool at that moment in time. 

What are your trademark garments that make up your distinctive style?

I don’t necessarily have one piece, it changes fairly often with me. There have been different phases in my life so far and I think my style shows that too. Today, I’m much more informed and calm in the way I dress compared to 8 or 10 years ago, so it’s rather difficult to take out just one piece.

full look GIVENCHY

full look ZEGNA

total look ACNE STUDIO
full look FERRAGAMO

In what way are fashion and football similar? What connects them?

There has been a lot of positive change in terms of fashion and sport. You can be much more expressive and the lines between the two worlds are becoming more blurred. You see more and more that there are a lot of cool collabs between sport and fashion, which is great. I saw that Guillermo Andrade, the founder of 424, is now a creative advisor to the MLS and Ronnie Fieg from Kith is creative director for the New York Knicks, so it’s clear to see that everything is becoming much intertwined. 

On a personal level, I’d say that there is much more to athletes than just playing sports. I truly believe you have to feel good about the way you present yourself and the way you feel in order to perform at the top level.

With your philanthropic initiatives, you manage to create a balance between your sporting career and community. Can you tell us more about these initiatives and the stories behind them?

I’m well aware of the position I’m in and the platform I have, so of course I’m grateful to God for that. I always want to give something back. For example, the football cage was great because it was symbolic of where I came from and my roots, so hopefully it can inspire kids from the same community I grew up in to chase their dreams. There is still so much more I want to do in order to help young people follow their dreams and reach their full potential.

Videographer MATEI OCTAV @mateioctav
Stylist LORENZO GARZELLI @lorenzogarzelli_
Models ADELEYE @adeleyesegun_ & Maluit @tap_maluit at The Claw Models
Makeup LORENZO STELLA @lorenzo.stella.em
Editing and music MATEI OCTAV @mateioctav