Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Forgotten Great Team: European Cup winner Hamburger 1982-1983

    The English clubs had won 6 straight European Cups before the  European Cup final in 1983.  When Juventus reached the Final and none of the English clubs did, it looked as if the changing of guard in European football was inevitable.  In 1981, Serie A lifted its ban on foreign players.  International players flocked to play in Italy.   A year later, Italy won their third World Cups in 1982.  The 1982-1983 season was probably the beginning of a Golden era in Serie A.  However, Hamburger SVwould not allow it to happen.  It pulled one of the bigger upsets in European Cup history by beating Juventus in the Final.   On paper, Juventus was the clear favorite.   Juventus fielded six World Cup winners, Dino Zoff, Claudio Gentile, Gaetano Scirea, Marco Tardelli, Antonio Cabrini and Paulo Rossi.   Michel Platini and Zbigniew Boniek were one of the best players at the World Cup.

     However, Hamburger SV was not a pushover. They were having a Golden era of its own.  They won the Cup Winner's Cup in 1977 by beating Anderlecht. They reached the 1980 European Cup Final with Kevin Keegan, but lost to Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest.  In the semi-final, they destroyed Real Madrid 5-1 at home on the second leg.  Then, in 1982, they reached the Final of the UEFA Cup, but lost again.  At the time of the 1983 European Cup Final, they won two of the last three Bundesliga title(they would win the 1982-1983 title too).  They also went undefeated in league from the January of 1982 to the January of 1983.  Felix Magath, Manfred Kaltz and Horst Hrubesch who went to the WC Finals in Spain were the biggest names on the team.  Their manager Ernest Happel had already won a European Cup with Feyenoord and considered a very good manager.  Jimmy Hartwig who was one of the first Black players to be capped by West Germany was missing because of suspension.   Franz Beckenbauer left the club the season before. 

      Manfred Kaltz and Horst Hrubesch were an interesting pair.   They were Batman and Robin of football. Manfred Kaltz was one of the best crossers ever played the game.  His crosses were known as "Bananenflanken" (Banana crosses) because they curved liked a banana. Nicknamed "Das Kopfball-Ungeheuer" (the Header Beast), Hrubesch was one of the greatest headers of the ball.  He could header the ball with precision and power.  When the best crosser teamed up the best header of the ball, they became one of the most dynamic duo ever played the game.  In fact, Sven-Göran Eriksson was very concerned about them when IFK Göteborg met Hamburger SV in the Final of the 1982 UEFA Final a year earlier.  However, against Juventus, it was Felix Magath who scored the winner.  Magath who was the son of an American serviceman stationed in Germany was probably the most underrated German players of his generation. Just 9 minutes into the game, he shot the ball from the left corner of the box and the ball sailed straight into the right upper corner of the goal.  Hamburger held on and won their first European Cup in history.

European Cup champions 1983
European Cup finalists 1980
European Cupwinners cup champions 1977
UEFA Cup finalists 1982

Bundesliga champions 1979, 1982, 1983
German Cup champions 1976

Kaltz and Hrubesch


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Diego Maradona's idol: Ricardo Bochini

Ricardo Bochini was Diego Maradona's idol.  He was considered one of the greatest playmakers in Argentina's history, but he never got his opportunity with the national team.  Cesar Luis Menotti decided to take Norberto Alonso in 1978.  After 1978, Carlos Bilardo opted for young players such as Diego Maradona.  however, by 1986, Maradona insisted the inclusion of then, 32 years old Ricardo Bochini.  He only played 5 minutes against Belgium in the semi-final.

Bochini was a legend at Independiente.  He joined the club during the middle of the club's 4 straight Copa Libertadores victory.  In 1973, he made his first big role with the club against Juventus at the Intercontinental Club.  He scored a winning goal with an assist from Daniel Bertoni.  The pair would form a legendary partnership at the club.  In 1984, Bochini would lead them to another Copa Libertadores and the Intercontinental Cup.  

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The match that almost changed history Red Star Belgrade vs AC Milan 1988


      AC Milan of the 1980's was considered one of the greatest side in history.  The team consisted of  the Dutch trio of Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard who won the European Championship in 1988 for Holland.  They complimented the club's Italian internationals Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta, Mauro Tassotti, Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto DonadoniArrigo Sacchi led them to back-to-back European Cup victories in 1989 and 1990.   However, before their team began to dominate, they almost fell at the very first hurdles and emerged as one of the luckiest winner in European football history.
    After AC Milan won its first
won its first Scudetto in nine years in 1988, they marched into their first European Cup campaign in two decades the following season.  In the second round, AC Milan faced Red Star Belgrade.  The first leg played in San Siro ended with a 1-1 with Red Star's Dragan Stojković scoring an opening goal.  Two weeks later, they played the second leg in Belgrade.  Things quickly turned bad for AC Milan.  Dejan Savicevic scored and Red Star took the lead 2-1 on aggregate.   German referee Dieter Pauly sent off Pietro Paolo Virdis  and AC Milan was reduced to 10 men.  It looked as if Red Star would win the tie.  Suddenly, lady luck had found AC Milan.  A heavy fog started to build around the stadium.  By the 65th minute, the visibility was close to zero.  The game was abandoned and both sides agreed to replay the second match the following afternoon.
           The third match would start with 0-0(or 1-1 on aggregate) againVirdis would sit out the match because of the red card from the abandoned match while Ancelotti picked up his second yellow card and of the competition, meaning that he had to sit out a match.  Otherwise, Milan was back with 11 men for the mtach.  Ruud Guilt who sat out the abandoned match because of injury started the third game on the bench and came in shortly after half-time.  The match ended again with a 1-1 draw and went to penalty shootout with AC Milan winning 4-2.

         As mentioned, AC Milan would win the European Cup that year and the following year as well.  In 1994, they would win their third title in 6 years.  Dejan Savicevic who joined Milan in 1992 was the star of the 1994 Final as Milan destroyed Bacelona 4-0.  
         Meanwhile, Dragan Stojković left Red Star Belgrade for Olympique de Marseille in 1990.  Coincidentally, he would face his old club in the 1991 European Cup Final where Red Star Belgrade was crowned the champion after beating Marseille in a penalty shootout.  He would have his night in 1993 when Marseille won the title by beating AC Milan in the Final.

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Greatest players from each African country

Algeria: Lakhdar BelloumiRabah MadjerAbdelaziz Ben Tifour.
Angola: Akwa
Benin: Stephane Sessegnon
Botswana: Dipsy Selolwane
Burkina Faso: Moumouni Dagano, Kassoum Ouedraogo
Burundi: Mohamed Tchite 
Cameroon: Theophile AbegaRoger Milla,Samuel E'too 
Chad: Japhet N'Doram
Congo: Paul Moukila
Egypt: Mahmoud El KhatibHossam HassanRifaat El-Fanagily
Equatorial Guinea: Rodolfo Bodipo, Javier Balboa
Ethiopia: Luciano VassaloMenistu Worku
Gabon: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Ghana Anthony YeboahAbedi Pele
Guinea: Chérif SouleymanePetit SoryPapa Camara
Ivory Coast: Yaya ToureDidier Drogba, Laurent Pokou
Kenya: Mahmoud Abbas, Peter Dawo
Liberia: George Weah
Libya: Fawzi Al-Issawi
Mali: Salif KeitaiFrederic KanouteSeydou Keita
Malawi: Lawrence Waya, Clifton Msiya
Morocco: Ahmed FarasNoureddine Naybet
Namibia: Collon Benjamin, Razundara Tjikuzu
Nigeria: Nwankwo KanuJay-Jay OkochaSegun Odegbami
Senegal: Jules Bocande
Sierra Leone: Mohamed Kallon
South Africa:Patrick NtsoelengoeJomo SonoLucas Radebe
Sudan: Nasr El-Din Abbas
Tanzania: Juma Pondamali, Sunday Manara
Togo: Emmanuel Adebayor
Tunisia: Tarak DhiabHatem Trabelsi 
Uganda: Polly Ouma, Philip Omondi
Zaire/DR of Congo: Bwanga Tshimen,  Paul Bonga Bonga, Ndaye Mulamba
Zambia: Kalusha Bwalya
Zimbabwe: Bruce Grobbelaar, Peter Ndlovu

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

GhanaCameroonNigeriaSouth Africa,
AlgeriaMoroccoEgyptIvory Coast,

North AfricaThe Rest of Africa.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Greatest Footballers of each country from AFC and Oceania.

Greatest Footballers of each country from AFC and Oceania.

Bahrain: Hamood Sultan
China(PRC): Gu Guangming, Rong Zhixing, Fan Zhiyi
China(ROC): Lee Wei Tong
Indonesia: Maulwi Saelan, Bambang Pamugkas, Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto.
Korea(North): Pak Doo-ik
Pakistan: Zesh Rehman
The Philippines: Paulino Alcántara
Singapore: Fandi Ahmad 
Uzbekistan: Maksim Shatskikh

New Zeland: Wynton Rufer

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Greatest Players from each UEFA country

I tried to come up with a different list from the UEFA Jubilee awards.

Albania: Panajot Pano 
Andorra: Koldo
Azerbaijan: Anatoliy Banishevski
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Safet Sušić
Bulgaria:  Hristo Stoichkov
Cyprus: Sotiris Kaiafas
Estonia: Martin Poom 
Faroe Islands: Abraham Løkin
Finland:  Jari Litmanen
Kazakhstan: Sergey Kvochkin
Liechtenstein:  Rainer Hasler
Lithuania: Arminas Narbekovas
Luxembourg:  Louis Pilot
Macedonia: Darko Pančev
Moldova:  Pavel Cebanu
Norway:  Rune Bratseth
San Marino:  Massimo Bonini

Thursday, September 18, 2014

British-Jamaicans turned Jamaica around in 1997

    Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

     Jamaica is known for its fine athletes.  Several Jamaican-born footballers such as England's John Barnes became star players in the UK and the United States.  However, its football team never made almost any impact in the international stage.  Then, in 1997, after a 0-0 draw with Mexico, Jamaica qualified for the WC Finals in France.  Their success story was a mixture of a golden generation of homegrown talents and the mobilization of British Jamaican footballers in the English Preimer League.
        The road to the World Cup in France started four years earlier when Brazilian technical director René Simoes took over the Reggae Boyz . He turned the team from a team of "performing seals" into a team of professional players.  In 1997, they surprised everyone by finishing ahead of Mexico in the Third Round of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualification and reached the Final Round.  Homegrown talents such as Warren Barrett, Theodore Whitmore, Ricardo Gardner, Walter Boyd and Onandi Lowe contributed to the campaign.

         The Final Round, however, did not go well for the Reggae Boyz.  Jamaica suffered 2 draws and 2 defeats in the first 4 games before beating El Salvador in the 5th game. On the 6th game, Jamaica began its turnaround.  They brought four British-born Jamaicans into the squad. Against Canada on September, 1997, Fitzroy Simpson, Paul Hall, Robbie Earle and Dean Burton made their debut.  The team remained undefeated for the rest of the WC Qualifiers.  They managed notable draws against the two CONCACAF superpowers, the United States and Mexico. Dean Burton would end the World Cup Qualifying campaign with 4 goals in 5 games.
           Jamaica's search for football talents in the UK did not end with the World Cup Qualfication.  They would bring in Frank Sinclair, Marcus Gayle and Darryl Powell for the WC Finals.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Jimmy Hogan


A relatively, unknown football coach by the name of Jimmy Hogan arrived in Vienna around 1911. Vienna in the 1910's was an interesting place.  It was the height of Viennese Coffee house culture where different ideas were exchanged.  Karl Kraus, Arthur Schnitzler, Hermann Broch, Egon Schiele, Stefan Zweig, Gustav Mahler, Ludwig Wittenstein, Gustav Klimt and Leon Trotsky were drinking coffee in cafes, developing their ideas.  This was the city where Carl Jung met Sigmund Freud in 1906.  Tito, Stalin and Adolf Hitler were also in Vienna around that period.

Jimmy Hogan was an Irishman from Lancashire who had a brief playing career.  He believed in the Scottish style of football, a game based in controlled, short passes.  His style of football was never appreciated in England. He had only brief coaching stints at the end of his career in England.  Perhaps under the free thinking era of Viennese Coffee house, his ideas were appreciated.   His arrival in Vienna would eventually lead to the evolution of both Total Football and Samba football.

A year earlier, he was coaching the Dutch national team, in which some credited him for setting up the foundation of Total Football.  Eight years after he left Holland, Jack Reynolds would take over the Dutch national team while managing the Ajax Amsterdam for 27 years.  He would build the foundation for Total Football.  At Ajax, he coached a player named Rinus Michels, who would be credited as the father of Holland's Total Football.  The connection between Jimmy Hogan and Rinus Michel's Total Football is perhaps stretched.  It was more about Jack Reynolds.

In Austria, Jimmy Hogan met Hugo Meisl.  Together, they would reshape the football system in Austria.  However, in 1911, war broke out in Europe. Hogan was forced to leave Austria as an enemy alien.  Hugo Meisl would take over the Austrian national team after Hogan's departure and held on the position for 28 more years.  The Austrians would later became known as the Wunderteam that went 14 games unbeaten between April 1931 and December 1932.  They played a beautiful style of football that were based upon Hogan's style of football, in which most historians believed to be the first Total Football.  Austria was heavy favourite to win the WC in 1934, but they were eliminated by host Italy in the semifinal by a questionable goal.  Ernst Happel who did not play under Hugo Meisl was a member of the Austrian national team from 1947 to 1958.  He later coached the Feyenoord team that won the European Cup in 1968 and then, Holland at the WC Finals in 1978.


Meanwhile, Jimmy Hogan headed to Hungary to coach the MTK Budapest in 1914. His style inspired Hungary's football.   In 1953, Hungary destroyed England at Wembley with short passes, which marked the end of England's supremacy in world football.  Gustav Sebes , the coach of the Mighty Magyars, said after the game: "We played football as Jimmy Hogan taught us."

In Hungary, one of Hogan's players was Bela Guttman, who would became the game;s first superstar coach.  In 1956, the Soviet Union invaded Hungary. Guttman was forced into exile.  A year later, he took a job with Sao Paulo FC in Brazil.  While in Brazil, he helped to popularise the 4-2-4 formation used by the Mighty Magyars.  Brazil would use the 4-2-4 formation to win their first WC in 1958. Brazil would also use variation of the 4-2-4 to win the World cup in 1962 and 1970.  The formation later evolved into 4-2-2-2, Brazil's iconic formation.

In 1925, Jimmy Hogan had a brief stay with Dresden SC, where he coached a young player named Helmut Schon.  In 1964, he would take over the West German national team in 1964. He took the Germans to WC victory in 1974 and an European Championship.  His team would play a German version of Total Football.  Again, the Hogan connection.

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Forgotten Great Team: Bobby Robson's Ipswich Town

Ipswich 1980-81

             In 1968, Bobby Robson was sacked by Fulham.  His managerial career seemed to be over.  He was married with a young famiy.  He was without money and out of job. Then, Ipswich Town gave him a chance in 1969.  He would repay them by turning the tiny club into one of the best in England.  Ipswich won the FA Cup in 1979 and then, the UEFA Cup in 1981.

        Under Robson's 13 year-spell at Portman Road, he built the foundation of his successes through his academy.  It produced players such as Mick Mills, Alan Brazil, Trevor Whymark, Brian TalbotJohn Wark, Terry Butcher, George Burley, Mick Mills, Colin ViljoenKevin Beattie, and Eric Gates.   He only bought 14 players during his reign at Ipswich Town, including Allan Hunter, Paul Mariner, David Johnson and Bryan Hamilton.   Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen also arrived from Holland in an era where few foreigners played in England. 


Friday, September 12, 2014

Sheikh Fahad Al-Ahmad: the Kuwaiti soccer chief and war hero

     This was a well-known incident at  the WC in 1982. France was winning 3-1 against Kuwait when Alain Giresse scored a goal. However, before  the goal, some of the Kuwaiti players claimed to hear a whistle from the stands and stopped play.  Soviet referee Miroslav Stupar. initially awardedthe goal.  Then, came one of the most  bizarre moments in World Cup history.  Sheikh Fahad Al-Ahmad, the brother of the Kuwaiti Emir and the president of the Kuwaiti Football Association, rushed onto the pitch to remonstrate with the referee. He threatened to pull his team off the field.  Instead of standing firm, Stupar changed his mind and disallowed the goal.  France would score it again to make it 4-1.
     Sheikh Fahad Al-Ahmad's name would make the news again 8 years later. During the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the entire Royal family fled Kuwait,but Sheikh Fahad Al-Ahmad stayed behind to defend Dasman Palace, the royal residence. He died fighting the Iraqi invaders with his body guards. According to some reports, his dead body was placed in front of a tank and run over.  Allegedly, Sheikh Fahad Al-Ahmad had a peronal feud with Uday Hussein even before the invasion.  He was the President of the Olympic Council of Asia while Uday was was in charge of the Iraqi Olympic
Committee.  The pair had clashed many times.