Jan 16th, 2007: 24-yr-old Gabriel (Gabe) and his mother Mrs. Vollmer, make a trip down south from Madison, Wisconsin to the Mexican embassy in Chicago. Little did they know, that they would be taking their last breath in this forsaken world. Tragic incident. Lives of two blessed individuals lost. January 16th, 2007.

Few days later, I find myself at a funeral that I couldn’t get a grasp of. It took sometime, to settle in. It definitely did.

One might read this and rightfully question its relevance to what we at Footynions write about. That was the day we lost a fellow footballer as well.

I played with Gabe and his elder brother Steve throughout my collegiate career in the US. A striker of brilliant instinct, and a general with magnificent vision, standing at an average 6’3, Gabriel Vollmer was the name that was feared in the conference.

Although most of his playing time was marred by injuries, when he did put those giant feet of his on the pitch, he dazzled his opponents and us with absolute pieces of brilliance.

He was no pushover either. I was honored to witness his might during one of the games.

He literally picked a member of the opposition on his forearm and slammed him. Obviously for a reason, the opposition targeted Gabe to be brought down; all the while he had the ball on his foot. Somewhat like a lumberjack, who constantly chops away at a strong tree from different angles in order to bring it down. Gabe was that Hardwood tree. And the opposition: the lumberjack’s.

Watching him do that induced some motivation on me to do something similar all though am not 6’3. It did make the game, lets say a little more playable, after.

What sort of a man was he, off the pitch though? He wasn’t to be messed around with, but the soft giant had a unique level of benevolence that attracted people to him. I specifically remember the time when I needed a ride to Milwaukee for a personal matter at around three in the morning. After failed efforts, in terms of convincing people I thought were close to me eventually ended up at Gabe’s doorstep. And as he always did, decided to drive me down without any hesitations nor questioning me why? His only request was if “I could hook him up with a cheeseburger from McDonalds”.

That was the Gabe we miss today.

We will always remember you brother, not based in the circumstances you were taken away from us but for all the times that you made us smile.

We, international students will also remember you Mrs. Vollmer for everything you had done for us. From every time you fed us post games to all the school holidays you took us in like a mother would. Words cannot be used to describe the emotions running.

Our prayers are always with you my brother (Steve) and my dearest sister (Heidi).

And as for you Gabe, we will meet again inshallah.

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