Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren has discussed in detail his childhood as a refugee after his family fled the war in Bosnia when he was a toddler.
In a documentary on LFCTV this week, Lovren detailed how civil war ripped apart his family’s life in Zenica in 1993.
“We had everything, to be honest,” he described his early life. “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.”
Lovren’s family left as sirens rang out, making the 500-mile journey to Munich in Germany where they settled as refugees.
Eventually, Lovren and his family returned to Bosnia after the war had ended. “They [the German authorities] said: ‘You have two months to prepare your bags and go back’,” he explained.
“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 documentary from Liverpool is timely and powerful, being aired on the day that the British government closed a child refugee scheme early – taking in just 350 unaccompanied child refugees rather than the 3,000 they said they would accept last year.
It also comes soon after US president Donald Trump’s executive order, currently being contested in the courts in America, to ban people from seven mainly Muslim countries.
As Lovren points out, nobody gets to choose where they are born, and nobody chooses to become a refugee.
“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,” said Lovren.
“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.”