Meet the model mending Michael Ballack’s broken heart: New girlfriend, 21, who was close friends with German football star’s son before his fatal accident was talent-spotted at 13, is the daughter of a model and no stranger to dating older men
- Sophia Schneiderhan, 21, is daughter of a Munich-based spine surgeon and a model and grew up in Germany
- She attended kindergarten in France, and speaks fluent French, before attending a private school in Germany
- Sophia was talent-spotted for modelling at the age 13 and by age of 15 was staring in campaigns for Escada
- She was friend of Ballack’s son, Emilio, who died in tragic quad-bike accident last year near Lisbon, Portugal
German football legend Michael Ballack’s new girlfriend is a 21-year-old model who was talent spotted in her early teens and was a close friend of his son’s prior to his tragic death last year, it has today be revealed.
The 45-year-old former Chelsea midfielder, whose son Emilio was killed in a tragic quad-bike accident last year, was spotted enjoying a visit to Art Basel in Switzerland with girlfriend Sophia Schneiderhan earlier this week.
The pair, who got close after Ballack’s son’s fatal accident, appeared loved up and were seen kissing in public, German outlet Bild reported. The couple have previously been spotted together in Berlin.
Sophia is a model who was close friends with Ballack’s son Emilio before the fatal accident last month. Her father, Reihard, is a spine surgeon and ex-surf school boss, who once owned three surf schools in La Garda in southern France.
Now based in Munich, he practices throughout Germany and also worked in Kuwait, UAE and Saudi Arabi and has written three books on back pain.
Though Sophia spent much of her young life in Munich, Sophia went to kindergarten in France and speaks fluent French.
From there she went to a small private school in Germany, where she excelled in biology and sport science and loved history.
But she pursued a modelling career having been spotted at the age of 13 on an underground train in Munich when she was wearing a Dirndl – a German folk costume often associated with Oktoberfest.
The man, who knew the friend she was with at the time, owned two fashion brands and after meeting Sophia went on to hold a number of shoot with her.
The photography shoots were always under the supervision of her mother, herself a sporty model, and someone who those close to Sophia say she considers ‘a best friend’.
German football legend Michael Ballack’s new girlfriend is 21-year-old model Sophia Schneiderhan, who was talent spotted in her early teens and was a close friend of his son’s prior to his tragic death last year, it has today be revealed
The 45-year-old former Chelsea midfielder, whose son Emilio (pictured here with his father) was killed in a tragic quadbike accident last year, was spotted enjoying a visit to Art Basel in Switzerland with girlfriend Sophia Schneiderhan earlier this week
She was also talent-spotted in France and was approached by a woman, a mother, from a model agency even though she had signed a contract with the agency in Munich.
After having a gut feeling about the woman, she decided to go with the French agency instead. By the age of 15 she was doing campaigns and editorials for Escada, a Munich-based fashion label.
It is said that she often missed class to allow her to do this, and she would then catch up at the weekend. She worked for two years for Escada and learned the basics of the fashion industry, while earning good pocket money.
In an interview when she was 18, Sophia suggested most of her life was already planned out. She said while pursuing a career in marketing, brand development and coding in her 20s and 30s, she hoped to follow her father into the medical profession in her forties.
Sophia also said she hoped to have five children, four of her own and one adopted, by her mid-twenties.
Her age gap to Ballack, who is 24 years her senior, is not the first she has dated an older man. Her first boyfriend and love was 27 when she was 18.
By the age of 15, Sophia (pictured) was doing campaigns and editorials for Escada, a Munich-based PR agency. In an interview she conducted when she was 18, Sophia suggested most of her life was already planned out. She said while pursuing a career in marketing, brand development and coding in her 20s and 30s, she hoped to follow her father into the medical profession in her forties
German former Chelsea star Michael Ballack is thought to be dating Sophia Schneiderhan, a 21-year-old friend of his late son Emilio, less than a year after the 18-year-old was killed in a quad bike tragedy in Portugal
Schneiderhan, who got close to Ballack after his son’s fatal accident, appeared loved up and was seen kissing the former Chelsea footballer in public
Former wife of Michael Ballack, 45, reveals she ‘often’ sits in their late son Emilio’s room a year after the 18-year-old was killed in a quad bike tragedy…
The ex-wife of former German and Chelsea star Michael Ballack has revealed how she has been grieving daily for their son who died in a tragic accident and refuses to change a thing in his bedroom.
Simone Mecky-Ballack told German broadcaster RTL that Emilio’s death is never far from her mind.
She said: ‘Of course there are days when I allow myself to mourn, cry snot and water – that’s healing.
The 18-year-old was killed in a quad bike accident in Portugal in August 2021.
Her husband, Michael Ballack is thought to be dating a 21-year-old friend of his late son
Ballack, 45, was spotted enjoying a visit to Art Basel, a fair for Modern and contemporary art, with his model girlfriend Sophia Schneiderhan, 21.
The pair, who got close after Ballack’s son’s fatal accident, appeared loved up and were seen kissing in public, German outlet Bild reported.
It is not the first time the couple have been seen out together after they were seen out in a trendy district of Berlin.
Ms Mecky Ballack, in an emotional interview said: ‘But you don’t think specifically of that day, you already remember the shock.’
She admitted she is constantly asking ‘why did this happen to him?’
She was told over the phone that her son had died and said she was like a machine. ‘Well, you know, you have to function now. You fly over there and look at it, go and look at it again.’
She said: ‘Of course there are days when I don’t want to get up, I want to lie in bed and cry, but I don’t allow it.
‘My thoughts are constantly circling. I cook dinner and then I know that he would have liked to eat that. But that’s the nice thing, you want to think about it.’
She admitted she has not changed a thing in his room at the family home, despite the passing of almost a year since the tragedy.
Ms Mecky Ballack said some people are afraid to mention his name when in her presence and she admits she has been luckier than some parents.
‘Actually you have to be thankful that you had these 18 years, other people lose their children very early. I also like to say “Emilio” consciously, because people no longer dare to say their name and then try to sneak around. There are people who change them side of the street when they see me because they don’t know how to deal with me.’
She added: ‘I’m often at Emilio’s grave. But even more often I sit in his room. I just look at his photos all day. Lay down on his bed and feel him very close. The room will remain exactly as it was as long as I live in this house.’
She lives in Bavaria with her sons Louis and Jordi.
Those who know the family say her parents did not approve at first. She met the man in Munich and quickly bonded, believing they had met each other before – but could not decide when and where.
They then kept bumping into each other so would go for coffee. They ended up having coffee six times before he officially took her out for dinner and they started dating.
After a year of dating they temporarily split up after he professed his lover for her. Still only 19 at the time, Sophia was not sure she felt the same way.
However after a fortnight apart, she decided she did love him and the pair reunited. It is not clear when the couple split again before her romance with Ballack.
It comes less than a year after Ballack’s son Emilio was killed when his quad bike tipped backwards and crushed him as he reversed and lost control following a family BBQ at Ballack’s Portuguese holiday home.
Emilio was the middle of Ballack’s three sons – born in 2002 to then-girlfriend Simone Lambe, who Ballack would marry in 2008 but divorce in 2012.
Friends of the duo told Bild they believed the relationship was good for Ballack and that the couple did not seem bothered by the 24-year age gap.
Meanwhile, Casten Germann, who writes on German football for Fussballdaten.de and Sport Bild and who has interviewed Ballack several times said the relationship had ‘surprised’ the German media.
He said: ‘When I saw Ballack for the first time and interviewed him he was a very shy guy. He was not really experienced in dealing with the media and his coach ended up controlling the interviews.
‘At the time Germany had no real idols in terms of football, so there was this huge expectation placed on his shoulders, and he was seen as a kind of clean-cut lovely guy and a rising star.’
‘He was also a bit of a heart-throb, and you could even say like he was a sort of German Matt Damon. He was very popular with the ladies when he was living in Munich. He was seen as a really attractive charmer. A kind of popular poster-boy – perhaps a bit like David Beckham was seen by many English female fans.’
‘But when he started to have children with Simone then he changed his image. He now became the well-known family man. I remember around 2001 / 2002 when his son Louis was born he was on the pitch and below his football jersey he had a t-shirt with a picture of his son on it, and whenever he scored he lifted up his jersey to show off his son to the crowd.’
‘He always emphasised how important family is for him, and there were never any rumours I was aware of in terms of his fidelity. He and Simone were seen as kind of the perfect couple. And at his farewell match in 2013, he led his family out onto the pitch to the cheers of the crows.’
‘So given all of this it is very surprising for me that he is now dating Sophia Schneiderhan, as is 24 years younger.’
However he said he did not feel it was his place to ‘judge’ Ballack, adding: ‘It must be a terrible thing to lose your children – it must be the worst thing that can ever happen to a parent.
‘My conclusion is that this relationship is born of very extreme circumstances. I am convinced this is a very difficult situation for everyone.
‘Perhaps in extreme circumstances it brings people together and the most curious things possible can happen.’
‘Perhaps it is a case where you are searching for affection, where you are in a state of profound loss and are searching perhaps for something to hold on to.
‘I don’t know. But I definitely do not think it is a case that he is just saying nice things to her to try and get her into his bed or anything like that. I don’t regard him as a heartbreaker. I see him as a gentleman.’
The 18-year-old was crushed by a quad-bike near the family’s holiday home in Portugal, according to reports
Ballack’s sons Louis (left), Emilio (second right) and Jordi (right) pose for a picture with their mother Simone (centre left)
Police at the time said Ballack had been riding on an uneven piece of land when the bike rolled backwards and fell on top of him around 2am on August 5 at the family’s Villas do Mar estate, near the town of Troia which is just south of the capital, Lisbon.
Firefighters had to pull him free of the wreck before medics tried to revive him, but their efforts proved in vain and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
‘The accident happened at the family home. The quad rider wasn’t on a public road and his was the only vehicle involved,’ an officer told Portuguese media.
Portuguese daily Jornal de Noticias reported that Emilio was reversing out of the property on his quad when he had his fatal accident.
Emilio, 18,is pictured (left) in his last Instagram photo uploaded before the accident, and (right) in another shot showing him on his graduation day
He is believed to have lost control of the vehicle during the manoeuvre out of the family villa and ended up on a public road with the quad on top of him after falling, the paper reported. His grandmother is said to have raised the alarm.
Sources said Emilio had enjoyed a family barbecue at the villa earlier in the evening. He was holidaying there with his father, two brothers and Michael’s own parents.
The teenager’s body has been taken to the Institute of Forensic Medicine in the city of Santiago de Cacem for a post-mortem. Ballack has yet to make any official comment.