Kicker Commentary for "World Class" players

Discussion in 'Players & Legends' started by Gregoriak, Jun 20, 2017.

  1. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Munich
    #1 Gregoriak, Jun 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017
    From 1955 to July 1971, "Kicker" did not comment on individual players in separate sections but only reserved one or two sentences for the highest-ranked players in their general commentary. There was no ranking issued in July 1958, July 1960 and July 1962

    December 1955

    A sportman may consider it a sin to create a ranking order for individuals that are competing in a team sport. For individual sports like tennis, boxing and swimming - well, an individual comparison is allowed. For a team sport however the esteem for the highest virtue of a team sport - the team work - forbids such a comparison.

    We ask for forgiveness for having created such a ranking and ask for acknowledgment that we are aware of the inherent difficulties of such a ranking. And we by no means raise the claim of being infallible. To the contrary, the more debate and controversy our ranking sparks, the more it fulfills the meaning we have intended for it: to enliven the debate among the football folk. .....

    How rapidly a ranking can change shows the following example: two months ago Stollenwerk might have completely missed our ranking or might have been positioned near the end. Today he belongs to the top. Just the same the ranking might be looking different in a few weeks, old names vanishing and new ones rising like meteors. Who knew Karl Schmidt six months ago? Today he is on the cusp of European class. We did not only look at games of the national team. That would have led to Uwe Seeler being unjustifiably rated near the end due to his weak game against Italy. A little bit of intuition is needed. But no one can take away the following: our will to be objective. Especially as "kicker" is read in all of West Germany we are free of a falsifying local patriotism. It is totally irrelevant to us where a player hails form.

    July 1957

    .... one player rose to 'world class' who only a short while ago was not even known in his local region, someone who even was rejected by football followers: we talk of Szymaniak. He is the only player that Germany could nominate to play in a European selection. Closest to Szymaniak in world class came full back Juskowiak and Willy Schröder of Bremen.

    December 1957

    .... It is not only "kicker" that grants Horst Szymaniak an exceptional position. Notable foreign observers count him among 'world class' players. They confirm that Szymaniak's technique, condition and vision are outstanding.

    December 1958

    Again "kicker" puts the ranking order up for discussion. This time we have observed the whole year because we did not want to compile a ranking directly after the World Cup in summer. Thus this ranking does not only look at the last few weeks and ignores individual failures as well as occasional brilliant performances. Exemplary for this is Juskowiak. The Düsseldorf player rose to a 'world class' level in the weeks prior to the World Cup and in the World Cup itself. That he could not keep this high level up afterwards resulted from reasons that have nothing to do with his class. Rahn and Szymaniak, just recently voted as the best in Europe by international sports critics, are the other two players we rated as 'world class' in our ranking.

    July 1959

    .... our ranking covers the first six months of 1959 and disregards occasional failures just the same as occasional great performances. That Szymaniak's form, for example, suffered in the first few weeks of 1959 after an malleolar fracture had nothing to do with his class. We count him among the players of 'world class' just like Uwe Seeler, who of all top players arguably showed the most consistent form, and Erich Juskowiak.

    December 1959

    .... As usual the biggest debate among our readers will be ignited by the term 'world class'. In our last ranking we labelled three players as such: Uwe Seeler, Erich Juskowiak and Horst Szymaniak. In our current ranking we also count goalkeeper Hans Tilkowski and Helmut Rahn among them. "Kicker" talked to Gustav Sebes a few weeks ago, the creator of the great Hungarian World Cup side, which was beat by Germany in the 1954 World Cup final. The Hungarian's opinion on Uwe Seeler you already read on page 2. Regarding Tilkowski, the neutral and unbiased Gustav Sebes arrived at the following conclusion: "Who is better? The top group of outstanding goalkeepers is so small. Absolute world class among international goalkeepers are surely the Russian Yashin and the Yugoslav Soskic. In any case, regarding Germany Tilkowski is a class of his own." Szymaniak, Tilkowski and Rahn the neutral critic Sebes rates among the world elite. Schnellinger, said Sebes, is close to reaching this elite.

    December 1960

    The "Ranking of German Footballers" of "Kicker" at the end of the year has become already a good tradition. Because our last ranking was issued a year ago this new ranking recognizes the performances of the whole year. Occasional weak performances of a player were left unconsidered just as a sole brilliant performance also was left unconsidered. The measurement is the form over the whole year. …..

    The fiercest debates among our readership will of course be caused by those players we rated as 'world class'. We count Tilkowski, Szymaniak, Uwe Seeler and Schnellinger among them. Uwe Seeler is valued on foreign soil at least as highly as in Germany. German journalists voted him "German Footballer of the Year". Europe's leading sports journalists also gave him many votes. For four years already foreign journalists rate Szymaniak as one of the world's best. We already rated Tilkowski as 'world class' last year. And he confirmed our rating this year quite convincingly. With regards to Schnellinger we may not overvalue his at times weaker performances in the last few weeks but we have to look at the sum of outstanding performances during the whole year in international and club competitions. We also do not want to conceal that we rate Erhardt's performances in the second half of the season as stopper as 'world class'. But as we said: only in the second half of the season.

    "And what about Rahn?" many will ask. Rahn only played for Köln until June. Since then he plays for the Dutch club Enschede (as outside right, center forward and outside left). As before, German players that ply their trade outside of Germany have to miss our ranking due to the lack of comparisons with domestic players.

    July 1961

    The "Ranking of German Footballers" of "Kicker" has become a good tradition by now. It is published semiannually. Today's ranking recognizes the performances from January 1961 up to season's end and thus the second half of the season. In doing so, naturally the final games of the championship and the games of our national team (Belgium, Chile and Northern Ireland) are included.

    The fiercest debates will again be caused by the term "world class". We count Uwe Seeler, Horst Szymaniak and Karl-Heinz Schnellinger as "world class". A bad performance by Uwe Seeler every now and then arguably do not change our ranking of him because only the sum of the performances are counted.

    Very possibly Szymaniak will be featured for the last time in our ranking if he the DFB releases him to play for Catania next weekend, as German players playing abroad evade our constant observation which is also the reason why Helmut Rahn is not featured in our ranking. Just the same foreigners that play in Germany are not evalued.

    December 1961

    .... today's ranking recognizes the performances from the start of the season until the end of the year, observing club games and especially games of the national team (versus Denmark 5-0, Poland 2-0 and Greece 2-1). ..... as 'world class' we rated this time Uwe Seeler as center forward and Karl-Heinz Schnellinger as full back, the position he also played for the national team. .... many players are included in more than one category, like Schnellinger (full back and half back), Erhardt and the Frankfurt player Lutz (stopper and full back), Kraus (outside right and center forward) as well as Brülls and Vollmar (outside left and center forward). ..... slim remains the number of players of "international class" inside the categories of center forward and outside left. No competitor to Uwe Seeler in sight! "Kicker" hopes that more players will be rated "international class" in our next ranking and perhaps one or two players of "world class" apart of Seeler and Schnellinger. Our next ranking will be issued in July 1962, directly after the World Cup [which, strangely, they did not do, as no ranking was published in July 1962].

    December 1962

    Our readers have to browse back a little further than usual as our last ranking was issued on January 2, 1962, if they want to compare it with today's ranking. Out of consideration for the World Cup in Chile we interrupted our usual semiannual cycle to avoid a detrimental discussion at that point. Our current ranking - for reasons of topicality - only evalues the last half of the year and thus does not look at the World Cup in Chile. We evalue performances in club competitions, national team games and representative games. Naturally most of the debate will be reserved for the term "world class", a grade we bestowed only after a most thorough observation upon Schnellinger and Seeler, even if single performances of these two players may not have deserved to be labelled as 'world class' or, in reverse, some other players may have looked to be 'world class' in some performances. If our ranking would be up for debate among international experts they certainly would arrive at the same result: "world class" only Schnellinger and Seeler! ..... Obviously Seeler showed a performance of "international class" when he played as outside right in the national team game in Stuttgart, a level which Schnellinger would arguably also achieve if he had played as half back. But both do have a regular role in club and national team that's why we did not list them in more than one category.

    July 1963

    This time our ranking takes a look at the performances of the first half of the year. This means the German championship finals, the international game against Brazil and the league competitions. A special look is reserved for performances in the championship finals because in these games players have to compete against the best clubs in the country. In this relatively short period of time often more was demanded than in the longer ongoing league competitions. In the Bundesliga, this pattern will change.

    Only one player has been deemed "world class" by us this time: Karl-Heinz Schnellinger. Perhaps in the last few weeks of the season his performances did not fully justify this highest grade but we have to look at the whole time frame - and here Schnellinger certainly has to be labelled as "world class". The performances shown by Seeler, on the other hand, did not meet the highest level this time. We are not among those that are now discounting Seeler. To the contrary, we are convinced that already soon he will be back among our players of "world class".

    December 1963

    We label our traditional semiannually published ranking "an attempt at an objective assessment". For we are aware that such a work must exhibit shortcomings and that the ranking of individual players - while it is not a matter of taste - still is dependent on one's personal view.

    This time, the Bundesliga does in fact not make matters easier for us. For the first time we had to consider its existence in some way. Thus we now subclassify the third group ("considered") in Bundesliga players and Regionalliga players resp. Amateurliga players. While this is not at all costs meant as a ranking of these groups of players, we may still assume that a Bundesliga player regularly has to show a higher performance level than those in subleagues. It is however difficult, if not impossible, to say whether Meiderich's stopper Danzberg (Bundesliga) is comparable to Bayern's stopper Ostner (Regionalliga). The severity of competition and the higher pace certainly speak for Danzberg, which however does not say anything about the actual class of Ostner.

    One player who was not at all featured in our last ranking managed to get featured as "international class" straightaway in our current ranking: Overath (Köln).

    Missing is the only player we rated as "world class" in our last ranking: Karl-Heinz Schnellinger. He now plays in Italy and thus evades our observation. While we do believe that he still is "world class", out of princible we have to leave him out. And because we are attempting a ranking of German players we have not included foreigner players in Germany, like Beara, Prins or Radenkovic.

    After applying the strictest standard we once again only found one player of the highest grade: Uwe Seeler.

    July 1964

    After applying the strictest standard we once again only found one player of the highest grade: Uwe Seeler.

    December 1964

    After applying our strict standard we found only two players of "world class" calibre: Uwe Seeler and Hans Tilkowski, both of which have been called up to play in the European selection.

    July 1965

    ....on the one hand several players that have been injured for many months could not be included in our current ranking, on the other hand Uwe Seeler, who has been injured since February, is entitled to a "world class" grade which we did not want to withdraw from him. Following strict criteria only Tilkowski and Seeler were classified as "world class".

    December 1965

    .... We were facing the question whether to classify the half backs as 'ball carriers in midfield'. But since such a classification following the Italian system would not do justice to every league level (Regionalliga mostly), we kept the classification as half backs. Trimhold and Lechner, for example, both of Eintracht Frankfurt, are normally offensive players who scheme their attacks from midfield. In the 4-2-4 system they are additionally also defensive players, acting as fifth and sixth defenders. Goalkeeper Tilkowski, who the German journalists voted "German footballer of the year" is still rated as "world class" by us. Also risen to "world class" level is the young Köln player Wolfgang Weber.

    Weber is "world class" because he has everything, really everything, that is needed to be a stopper of "world class". He possesses excellent physical conditions, is technically (headers and long passes) absolutely perfect and possesses a further great gift, the ability to adapt tactically to his opponent, to dominate his opponent in that terrain. Weber's special class was visible already in the game against Italy in March in Hamburg. Vittorio Pozzo, the mastermind of Italy's two World Cup winning teams, praised as follows: "Weber has everything to become a second Szymaniak".

    In the European Cup games for Köln against Liverpool Weber competenly stopped the feared goalgetter Roger Hunt, who is also part of England's first team for the World Cup. Hunt commented after the game: "I have not played against a player of such class for a long time."

    Unforgettable Weber's brilliant performance in the decisive game in Rotterdam. Despite a broken fibula he stayed on the pitch for 120 minutes and in the end was Köln's most dangerous attacker. Also fresh in our memory is the second half against Austria in Stuttgart. In this game, Weber took over the stopper role from Sieloff and eliminated Buzek in a superior manner, the man who had been a constant danger for our goal before that. A new Schnellinger, as far as class is concerned!

    When "kicker" graded Schnellinger as "world class" for the first time years ago, many protests were heard. We adhered to our opinion and Schnellinger's progress conceded that point to us. We are certain that Weber's progress will also concede that point to us in the future.

    Uwe Seeler this time not "world class"? All of the personal characteristics that made Uwe Seeler a player of "world class" can be subsumed under the overall slogan "explosiveness". This ability he has only shown now and then in the first half of the season. His incredible explosiveness made him a player of "world class". We can only wish that Uwe Seeler will regain this explosiveness in the second half of the season, so that we can classify him as "world class" after the World Cup!

    September 1966

    Due to the World Cup our new ranking appears a little later than usual. The categorization of positions is new in this ranking, as we have adapted to the tactical facts of modern football. In defense we differentiate now between full backs and central defenders. Midfield players are the central actors of today's football. They have to be able to play in defense as well as in attack. Among the forwards these days a determination between central forwards and lateral forwards (left and right) is appropriate. Normally German players abroad do not feature in our ranking. This time however, our "Italians" that played in the World Cup, who we also observed in the months leading to the World Cup in various club games, are included. Although all performances over the past seven months are included, naturally the World Cup performances have a higher degree. In our last ranking we only had Tilkowski and Weber in the highest category. Uwe Seeler, who before his injury was regularly rated as "world class" by Kicker was not featured that time because he had not regained his form at that point. Our "Italians" Schnellinger and Haller already belonged to that highest category before the World Cup. Beckenbauer, Willi Schulz, Overath and Höttges all proved to be of the highest level during the World Cup.

    December 1966

    Five players have been rated as "world class" by Kicker in our newest ranking due to their performances during the first half of the season: Willi Schulz and Wolfgang Weber among the defenders, Franz Beckenbauer and Wolfgang Overath among the midfielders and Uwe Seeler among the central forwards. Beckenbauer was also featured among the central defenders. He and Held are the best example for players being listed in more than one category.

    July 1967

    In January five players were rated as "world class": the defenders Willi Schulz and Wolfgang Weber, the midfielders Franz Beckenbauer and Wolfgang Overath and Uwe Seeler. This time we rated as "world class" Willi Schulz, Franz Beckenbauer and Overath, with Beckenbauer being rated in two positions: midfielder and central defender; especially in the games for Bayern München Beckenbauer almost exclusively was used as a defender. Uwe Seeler and Wolfgang Weber did not manage to achieve the highest grade. Uwe was often injured, only playing in one of the last nine championship games. Weber played despite being injured which was the exact reason why his performances suffered.

    July 1968

    In our last ranking in December 1967 no players were rated as "world class", mirroring the crisis of our national team at that time. In the first half of the year our national team did not lose a single of the five games it competed in: in March a 3-1 win in Brussels against Belgium, followed by two away draws in Basel against Switzerland (0-0) and in Cardiff against Wales (1-1). The season was closed with two high-profile victories at home against two World Champions, winning 1-0 against England and 2-1 against Brazil. The performances of the national team are also mirrored in our ranking, in which Beckenbauer, Overath and Weber are rated in the highest level.

    December 1968

    The trio that we rated "world class" in summer has remained in that highest category: Beckenbauer, Overath and Schulz. [error: it was Weber who was rated world class in summer 1968, not Schulz].


    July 1969

    .....Haller and Schnellinger, who would both enrich our list of 'world class' players, are not featured in our ranking because they are playing abroad. With only Beckenbauer, Willi Schulz and Vogts we are badly equipped in that category. With a heavy heart we had to downgrade Wolfgang Overath from 'world class' to 'international class'. Only in the impressive game in Glasgow against Scotland (1-1) did he reach his old level of 'world class'.

    December 1969

    .... the 'world class' category has increased from three players in July to four in December. Joining Beckenbauer, Schulz and Vogts is Wolfgang Overath again, who together with goalkeeper Manglitz has a considerable share in the soaring of Köln this season.

     
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  2. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Munich
    #2 Gregoriak, Jun 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017
    July 1970

    … we can be highly pleased with the success of our team (third place!) and with individual performances of our players in Mexico. After a critical assessment of our players, which in some cases gave us headaches, we can now – dear reader – introduce you six players of world class: Berti Vogts, Franz Beckenbauer (even twice, once as central defender and in midfield), Karl-Heinz Schnellinger, Wolfgang Overath, Uwe Seeler and Gerd Müller. Beckenbauerand Overath held on to their world class evaluation from our last ranking in a supreme way. Vogts had to battle hard to remain in that category. But who, after all, managed to trump the little Terrier from Mönchengladbach when he had his ups and downs as a full back? No one. One man virtually bombed his way into world class: Gerd Müller, with ten goals the top scorer of the World Cup. But Müller did not only shine brightly as a goalgetter. He disproved all know-it-alls who claimed that he had no sense for combination play. The Bomber from Munich certainly is not one of the greatest in terms of technique. He knows that himself. In Mexico he proved however that his uncontrived, straightforward style also beats the world elite. And he also proved that additionally to his matchless instinct for scoring goals he is capable of providing good crosses and well-timed 1-2s. Also with – or especially with! – Uwe Seeler. Uwe returned to world class as a midfield player. We can only take our hat off to him. This is no bow to his age or his accomplishments. Uwe’s performances were the only thing we measured. In the column “central forwards” Uwe is also appearing as ‘international class’. And the sixth man of world class, Karl-Heinz Schnellinger? Usually Germans that play for foreign clubs do not get considered in our ranking, because we cannot observe them thoroughly like the other players. This will remain that way. Volkert, playing for FC Zürich, for example, is not included. However with Schnellinger and Haller this time we have made an exception. Our Mexico staff was able to observe both players. Schnellinger took his chance. Haller, who only played 45 minutes against Morocco, wasted it. In his woefully short appearance it showed that Haller has no fitness going together with his still world-beating technical skills. But fitness and endurance are necessary to find a place among the best.

    Note: The December 1970 ranking is basically a repeat of the summer ranking of that year, as the December ranking looks back at the complete year of 1970, instead - as normally done - only the time from August to December. Thus the only player that gets a few sentences is the 'new-comer' to 'world class', Günter Netzer.

    December 1970

    If we had based our December ranking only on the form of our top players in the last few international games against Hungary, Turkey, Yugoslavia and Greece, we arguably would have had to class a few of them lower than world class. But a World Cup, which only comes around every four years, is simply setting the measurements, giving a ranking the final touches in the top categories. Even if Mexico now is six months in the past. One player, who missed out on Mexico, we now classed as 'world class' despite not having played in the World Cup: Günter Netzer! We believe that the majority of our readers agrees with this.

    The Mönchengladbach player not only showed non-stop top performances for his club, he also he proved his absolute class in international games. Among it European Cup games and friendly games of his club against national teams.

    July 1971

    ... we believe that due the development of modern football we have to separate the central defenders between liberos (sweepers) and stoppers. This of course does not mean that players do not play both roles. We listed them in the position where they played most often. Why did we put "sweepers" in brackets behind "liberos"? Our competent readers of course know themselves that we only possess few players that truly fulfill the role of the "last man", that of the "free man" convincingly, players that know how to exploit the abundance of possibilities that this role offers to them. The "sweeper" first has to "develop" into a "libero". The prototype of the modern libero is still Franz Beckenbauer. After he now also plays in his favorite position in the national team, we have decided not to include him among the midfielders anymore, although of course we know that Franz is still able to deliver performances of world class in that position. After a rigorous evaluation we only ranked Berti Vogts (full back), Günter Netzer (midfielder) and Müller (central forwards) next to Beckenbauer in the 'world class' category. Thus Günter Netzer asserted himself while Wolfgang Overath was demoted after a heated debate. The playmaker of Mönchengladbach provided world class performances in his club almost non-stop and also in the national team he has a leading part. Overath however did not look as convincing for his club Köln like he did in the first part of the season and of course during the World Cup in Mexico. It is up to himself to work his way back to the place which he should occupy due to his footballing skills: that of world class.


    December 1971

    World Class

    Franz Beckenbauer [Libero]


    If the role of libero, the most modern position in modern football, would not exist, one would have to invent it - for the man who plays that role like no one else, because no one else can play it that way: Franz Beckenbauer. The libero role is tailor-made for the Munich player. "Libero" - the free man. In the beginning only meant as a sweeper. In the beginning only meant for 'firefighters' who would quench a fire. Still today most players in this role remain sweepers. It is no coincidence that the Bundesliga's three best clubs all do not operate with sweepers but with liberos. Beckenbauer at Bayern - that's clear. Nobody has the same overview of a game like him, no one knows the right moment when to risk attacking the opponent's goal. The ideal libero - like Beckenbauer - must be able to play 1-2s to get himself and his teammates into a good position. He must be able to pass the ball over long distances without the opponent getting the ball. Beckenbauer is the commanding boss of his defense, taking care for not opening gaps in his back when he is moving forward to join the attack. Beckenbauer is the measure of all things libero. He sets the limit - world class. Sieloff is unlucky that there is a Beckenbauer. His game is more forceful, not as elegant as the Munich player. The difference between the two lies in the playful genius of the Bayern libero. This does not rule out that Sieloff is as important for Mönchengladbach as Beckenbauer is for Bayern and Klaus Fichtel is for FC Schalke 04. Fichtel resembles Sieloff, although his offensive thrusts don't look quite as vigorous as Sieloff's. But he too is 'boss' of his team, dictating pace and rhythm. These three players make the most out of their tasks by moulding them into roles that have a fundamental function for their teams.

    Gerd Müller [Central Forward]

    "We had plenty of goal chances; all we lacked was a cold-blooded goalgetter ...". This is a lament that still most managers utter these days. Typical goalgetters are far and few between. Gerd Müller remains the prototype of the safe scorer who scores from all possible situations. Nobody right now can hold a candle to him. Critics that used to blame him for a lack of technique have long since been silent. Also those that claimed that he couldn't do well with 1-2s. The majority of his goals (already 17 in the first half of this season!) do result from blitz-like 1-2s! Even on foreign shores we are envied for the Bomber. His place in 'world class' is not up for debate.


    July 1972

    Introduction


    ... there are four players who in our opinion showed performances of world class in the last six months: Franz Beckenbauer, Günter Netzer, Gerd Müller and Paul Breitner. That we classed the young Munich player this high might be surprising to some. But the only measurement in this case can be the international competition. We literally saw all European top teams during the last few months, both clubs and national teams. We did not see another full back anywhere of such class, a full back of such a rich technical repertoire, such football intelligence as Breitner. Who met his prime defensive tasks so self-assuredly, who intervened so intelligently in the attacking endeavours of his team, who menaced the opposing goal more frequently? In this past half year he managed the biggest jmp! When today the best full backs in the world are named, then the name of Breitner is always mentioned. There shouldn't be any discussions about Beckenbauer and Netzer, and surely also not about Gerd Müller's world class. Nobody today can seriously write off his 51 goals in 41 international games (and nine goals in the last six games for the national team) as 'accidental products'. The whole world envies us for having a center forward like him!

    World Class

    Paul Breitner [Full Back]


    Our editorial staff 'found' three German world class players pretty quickly. And we didn't have too much difficulty in finding a fourth one. Who else has managed a better, a more world class performance during the last six months than the 'discovery of the year', Paul Breitner? His performances during the games for the European Championships were only the icing on the cake. Will we meet resistance with our classification of Breitner as 'world class'? I think that such a meteoric rise deserves a corresponding evaluation. Everyone has his 'bogey' team. Everyone has his 'black day' some day. Breitner had his in the 1-5 defeat to Köln in the German Cup and against his opponent Bernd Rupp. We consider it to be fair to mention this yet believe that this is not detrimental to Breitner's overall performance level. Breitner thus managed to skip the category of 'international class' by jumping straightly from 'broad circle' to 'world class'.

    Franz Beckenbauer [Libero]

    I was just talking to Gunter Baumann about the strenghts and weaknesses of a libero. Our discussion soon got passionate when I portrayed what Franz Beckenbauer is getting out of the role of the 'last man'. Baumann, himself a born inside forward (in the old WM-system) and later a great center half himself saw this with different eyes: "but this unique talent is wasted in the libero role. This exceptional footballer would unfold much better in midfield. As libero, last man, an older player can be used instead, someone that should not get a too demanding job. Well a man that is already in a storage siding." I have the opposite view. Beckenbauer, who is doing everything but holding back, who does everything but taking a rest at the back, has firmly and consistently shown what can be made out of the libero position. He himself defends his role as follows: "When I move forward into midfield, there are one or two players standing on my feet. As libero I can not only act as 'fireman' and conductor of the defense, but also act like a forward when the opponent does not expect it."

    Günter Netzer [Midfielder]

    This was the half year of Günter Netzer! After the mysterious elimination in the European Cup, which led to a dip in form of the Mönchengladbach team in the Bundesliga championship, the captain of the 1971 champion finally grew into the role that he deserves. Now also in the national team the attacking play is centered wholly around him, underpinned by a sparkling understanding with Franz Beckenbauer. For an exceptional appearance like Netzer it was of course hard to come out on top. It is not sufficient for Netzer himself to be in form. To get the optimum out of him, Netzer depends on his fellow midfielders and forwards to fully get into his ideas and mannerisms, to accept his leadership, to take work off of him, to follow his rhythm dictate. Wolfgang Overath, friend and great rival of Netzer, lost his form due to injuries. The individualist Overath himself can only unfold if he has a leading role.

    His comeback in the national team depends on him moving more forward and to adapt to the rhythm of Netzer. Is that possible? Meanwhile Uli Hoeness has blended in organically with the Mönchengladbach duo of Netzer/Wimmer as the third midfield player that it does not look advisable to sacrifice this triad for a dubious experiment.

    Gerd Müller [Central Forward]

    Gerd Müller world class! Two years ago, in our ranking issued in nr. 54 of 6 July 1970, we attributed him as 'world class' for the first time. My personal opinion: it was long overdue. At the latest during the World Cup in Mexico Müller disproved the know-it-alls who claimed that he had no sense for combination play or even that he couldn't play 1-2s. These Müller has mastered not only with Franz Beckenbauer years ago, but also with Rainer 'Oki' Ohlhauser back in the day! In the meantime the 26-year-old has further matured in terms of playfulness. Who still talks of a 'strictly-goalgetter-nothing else' has tomatoes on his eyes. Nobody shields the ball as cunningly as Müller. Nobody finds the 'right gap' after dropping the ball back to a midfielder as quickly as Müller. Günter Netzer said: "He literally forces me to play a 'deadly' through ball in the right moment." Not to mention the 1-2s played almost 'blindly' with his ideal partner Beckenbauer.

    December 1972

    Introduction


    ... being called up to play for the national team is fundamentally linked to how a player performs for his club team. Unfortunately some players that sparkle for the national team seem to have forgotten this. Thank God there are only few of these players but unfortunately Günter Netzer has to be counted among them, although he has suffered some injuries which he might consider as an excuse. Some very good games - also in the UEFA Cup - saved him from being demoted from 'world class' to 'international class'. After a lively debate within our writing staff this happened to Paul Breitner, who pushed into the 'world class' category after an meteoric rise in our summer ranking. We will address this more closely in our commentary in the full back section. Thus the number of our world class players is reduced to three - Beckenbauer, Müller and Netzer - three players that also topped the poll of the "European Footballer of the Year".

    World Class

    Franz Beckenbauer [Libero]


    The "monument" Franz Beckenbauer is reigning supremely over his competitors in such a way that all that is left to ask is how this gap can be decreased in the future. Several players show vague promises in that regard but nowhere is the breakthrough already achieved. .... with regards to the international competitions we have to cross our fingers that Beckenbauer won't get injured because a successor is nowhere to be seen.

    Günter Netzer [Midfielder]

    Europe's sports journalists ranked him at no. 2 together with Gerd Müller in the poll for the "European Footballer of the Year". They too confirmed Netzer's status as a player of undisputed world class. However at home he did not confirm that status as undisputedly. The reason of course is that in our ranking, not the full year is mirrored but only the last six months. And in this time frame the Mönchengladbach player was stingy in regards to top class performances. True, on the international level (UEFA Cup and the international game vs. Switzerland) he performed scintillatingly, impressing with his technique, his overview and his smart passes. For now Netzer remains the ideal player in midfield, like before him his friend Wolfgang Overath. The Köln player is fired up to return to the national team. He won't have an easy time achieving this. In the last half year, Wimmer and Hoeness have crystallized even more as being the two ideal partners of Netzer in midfield. The first one with the additional benefit of playing in the same club as Netzer, the latter one having the benefit of playing in the same club with Gerd Müller, with whom he has developed a blind understanding in terms of 1-2s.

    Gerd Müller [Central Forward]

    The 'world class' attribute belongs to Gerd Müller not least because he is the undisputed no. 1 goalgetter in world football. His accolades are numerous: the first German to be voted "European Footballer of the Year", twice Europe's best goalscorer, scorer of the most Bundesliga goals in history, scorer of the most goals for the national team. Gerd Müller does not only remain indispensable, but also insatiable. When Uwe Seeler was voted "German Football of the Year" in 1970 instead of Müller, despite being top scorer of the World Cup in Mexico, Müller complained to the writer of these words plainly: "You have betrayed me". The manager of Borussia Mönchengladbach, Hennes Weisweiler, stated en passant in a conversation recently: "To me Gerd Müller is the greatest player already for years." And with that he did not only mean Müller's attributes as a goalgetter. Weisweiler's own goalgetter, Jupp Heynckes, would replace Gerd Müller in the national team if need be. Possible that Heynckes would blossem without Müller next to him, possible that he would rid his bad luck in the national team of not having scored a goal in his last 17 games during the last six years. For his club Heynckes remains a dangerous goalgetter while in the national team he only hits the woodwork.


    July 1973

    World Class

    Franz Beckenbauer [Libero]


    Helmut Schön wouldn't need to worry for the 1974 World Cup if in all positions we had such competition as among the liberos. Naturally Franz Beckenbauer is still head and shoulders above the others in this category, yet some younger players succeeded in closing the gap considerbly. First of all, there's Horst Blankenburg, who of course is only moving into the picture from the edge as he's achieved his big successes outside of Germany playing for Ajax Amsterdam. Yet the Swabian from Heidenheim still possesses German citizienship and thus he could play for Germany in case something should occur to "Kaiser Franz", which we of course do not hope. Horst Blankenburg thus is mentioned noncompetitively in our ranking on all but honorary grounds. He may be adversely affected by adventurousness, apart from that he is nearly perfect, knows just like Beckenbauer how to time his offensive thrusts. He also proved that he has improved a lot in pure marking ability. He and Beckenbauer taking turns in offensive endeavours, each one securing the rearward space behind the other, to imagine this is a pleasure!

    I* had the fortune to witness these two players playing together in the London game of "Old EC" vs. "New EC" and can thus measure how effective this combination could be

    *note: the author is Hildebrand Kelber
     
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  3. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Munich
    #3 Gregoriak, Jun 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017
    July 1974


    Introduction

    ... since our national team won the World Cup much to our delight, naturally there is a 'boom' among the 'world class' rated players compared to our last ranking. With goalkeeper Sepp Maier, the full backs Breitner and Vogts as well as libero Beckenbauer, already in this edition we have four players who we granted the grade of 'world class'. Among the stoppers the highest rating was 'international class', with the Munich player Georg Schwarzenback being the sole representative, climbing one position upwards compared to our last ranking. The debate among our staff was far less passionate than in our winter ranking at the end of December 1973. The World Cup had set the standards, the impressions are still fresh and the assessment thus a little bit easier. Sure enough the performances for the club teams are not disregarded. After all only 18 German players performed in the World Cup. Among all others, the performances in their club teams during the first half of the year were decisive. And among these club games, the competition of the European Cups and the UEFA Cup as well as the promotion round were considered with a special weight.


    World Class


    Sepp Maier [Goalkeeper]

    "Whenever Sepp is concentrated, then he is world class!" This used to be Beckenbauer's standard answer when he was asked about the quality of his goalkeeper. A lack of concentration and hence non-consistent performances were thus far the reason why the grade of 'world class' has eluded Maier in previous rankings. It is uncontested that he has always been capable of world class performances for Bayern and the national team in the years gone by. However, with Sepp it has always been that next to his world class games he also always had his "black hours". In the bygone six months however all this has changed, as Maier managed to become virtually a paragon of consistency, capping this off with winning the German championship, the European Cup and the World Cup. A triple triumph in which Maier played a major role with his great saves. Especially after the World Cup the applause was undivided. In our great survey after the World Cup about the best players, only Ronnie Hellström received more votes among the goalkeepers than Maier. Whereat the Swede had the "benefit" of being far more tested right from the start of the tournament than Maier.


    Paul Breitner and Berti Vogts [Full Backs]

    Among the most noticeable players of the World Cup winners were the two full backs. Both were also highly graded internationally. Next to Sepp Maier and Franz Beckenbauer, Paul Breitner and Berti Vogts performed most consistently among our players. Both managed to raise their level over the course of the season and then managed a further boost during the World Cup (unlike Uli Hoeness, who was not able to raise his level any higher), and in the final itself, Berti Vogts swung aloft to an unexpected level of greatness. Despite Vogts' fantastic showing of fitness, the final itself revealed the differences between the Mönchengladbach and the Bayern player. Paul Breitner can also score goals. That's the reason why he is more revered, also by foreign experts. After all Breitner scored three goals, two of them from a distance of over 20 meters: the first goal of our team against Chile and then the all-important first goal against Yugoslavia (where he managed to vanquish the 'super-man' goalkeeper Maric) and finally the equalizer in the final game. He showed his strength of nerves by taking that penalty despite not being designated to take penalties. By the way, in our last ranking neither Breitner nor Vogts were rated as 'world class', as Breitner was clearly not in his form of 1972 and Vogts had been injured for so long and so thoroughly that he didn't even expect to make the World Cup squad back then.


    Franz Beckenbauer [Libero]

    In our great international survey after the World Cup asking for the best player of the tournament, eight of 67 experts did not mention the name Beckenbauer. Remarkable that these experts apparently had never heard of his name. But then again, six players could be chosen from....in any case, this World Cup 'birthed' world class players more than ever before in our ranking and this not without reason. But not only the World Cup was regarded, also the performances during the last six months in the league and the European Cup. Franz Beckenbauer's position is uncontested. That he was not rated 'world class' in December has been reasoned by us thoroughly in the last ranking. This World Cup presented to us the 'other' Beckenbauer, the fighter, which he so far seldomly was, because he was unchallenged, the exemplary captain, who guided the path, who could be brazen, could be seen fuming but who was also seen praising others.


    Gerd Müller [Central Forward]

    We don't have to make many words about Gerd Müller. Whoever is disappointed that he failed to become top scorer of the World Cup again like in Mexico, has to arrange that with himself. Once, after a weaker game of Müller, when the press expected of Helmut Schön to make a critical comment regarding Müller, he replied - a little bit petulant - "I am glad that I have him!". There is nothing to add to this statement. Both Bayern players, only rated 'international class' last December, managed to advance to the 'world class' category this summer, a place well known to Müller from previous rankings.


    Uli Hoeness [Central Forward]

    Within the last 12 months, Uli Hoeness managed the biggest jump forward. A year ago, the Munich player was rated 'broad circle', at the end of December 'international class', and now he even managed to advance to the 'world class' category. Admiration and congratulations for this enormous rise! But there, where we expected world class performances from Hoeness, he didn't deliver them: during the World Cup in June and July. Some had hailed him prematurely as the "star of the tournament". He still managed a very good performance altogether. But what counted especially: his unforgettable games in the European Cup and the league. This ranking obliges, Uli!


    December 1974


    Introduction

    The last Kicker Rangliste was much influenced by the 1974 World Cup. With pride and a good conscience we ranked six players as 'world class'. They were Maier, Vogts, Beckenbauer, Müller and Hoeness. A good five months later only two players distinguished themselves as 'world class' in our view. Namely Beckenbauer and Vogts. Breitner left our ranking because he is now playing in Spain. As usual, we do not rank German players from foreign clubs because they evade our observation. Thus no Netzer, too. It was encouraging though that again many younger talents moved into the spotlight. Let's think about Dietz (25), Zander (23), Kliemann (25), Körbel (20), Pirrung (25) or Seliger (23). The turnabout in the Bundesliga, its almost never-before-seen balance naturally rubbedd off on our ranking and enlivened it. Also seasoned players like Kostedde (28), Haebermann (28), Volkert (29) were calling the challenge. And let us remind ourselves that even Hölzenbein managed to get called up by the national team only at the age of 27. And what a smash he was!


    World Class


    Berti Vogts [Full Back]

    The tenacious Berti managed to keep his world-cup-winning form up in the first half of the season. Let's look back: shock for all spectators in the first minute of the World Cup final, when Cruyff got rid off Berti and was felled by Hoeness. Penalty and 0-1. But not a shock to Berti, who raised himself to a sublime performance, helping our team to reach the summit of the mountain. Only lacking for a culmination was him scoring a goal, but after one of Berti's blitz forays goalkeeper Jongbloed denied him. In the Mönchengladbach team, which started weakly into the new season but then managed a series of winning games which was then followed by a series of defeats, thus a team that was changing between highs and lows, Berti right from the start was the most steady man, the calming influence. Berti simply is a bloke. After a long-winding injury his international career seemed to be history, he was not part of the European Championship team, but he came back ....


    Franz Beckenbauer [Libero]

    Dietrich Weise's prophecy that only when Beckenbauer is not playing anymore, other teams will be winning the championship very likely will be disproved already in this season. But I still think that this sentence is a remarkable opinion which extends in an even stronger sense also to our semi-annual ranking. Franz now for years has been our most stable player of 'world class', and even if one day he will not be rated as 'world class' anymore, he will still be our best libero. By the way, a year ago he was only ranked as 'international class' - you sure remember: form crisis, thigh strain, renal colic etc. ... But in our summer ranking he was on top again.


    July 1975


    Introduction

    A partly tumultuous season has been completed. Some of that turbulence rubbed off on our ranking, of course, which has shown more movements than our last ranking in December 1974. A good sign, because stagnation equals regression. The number of players we classified as 'world class' has increased from two to three. Joining Vogts and Beckenbauer now is Sepp Maier, who was elected unanimously by our staff into this highest category. Grabowski and Heynckes were two further candidates for the 'world class' level, they only barely failed to make it. Enjoyable to see that again many young talents crowded our "broad circle". Just look at Dürnberger, Glowacz and Sziedat among the full backs. Neuberger, who was not considered last time due to a long-winding pause caused by a club transfer, even managed to top that list.


    World Class


    Sepp Maier [Goalkeeper]

    The ranking is uncontested. Rarely was Sepp Maier the number one goalkeeper without any doubt like this time, the number one which he always claimed to be himself, despite a number of crises in the bygone years. This time there was no crisis. It is mainly Maier's merit that Bayern did not get in danger of relegation in their direst need this season and despite their mediocrity achieved to win the European Cup. If Billy Bremner's shot from a few yards had been a goal, which Maier prevented, Bayern for the first time in five years would have failed to win a trophy. Since the World Cup victory, of which he can claim a great share of merit, Sepp Maier 'infects' the players of Bayern and the national team with his calmness. The experience of one decade is paying off.



    Berti Vogts [Full Back]

    We actually never were at a loss regarding good defenders. And if one compares this ranking with our last ranking from winter 1974, this illustrious circle has well increased. Only in the hierarchy some changes have occurred. If one asks Berti Vogts about his hobby apart from football he promptly answers: "football". This is basically a confirmation of his attitude towards this profession and of the stable value of his performances, almost always 'world class'. This is where he belongs due to his commitment, his ambition and his prowess.


    Franz Beckenbauer [Libero]

    Franz Beckenbauer remains the measure of all things 'libero'. If the role of the 'free man' had not yet been invented, one would have had to invent it especially for him, for the man who has gained all glory that a footballer can gain - and who especially proved in those days, when Bayern and him or him and Bayern slipped into a crisis, that he is a brilliant player and a commanding captain, but mostly also a passionate fighter. Some thought in those first weeks of 1975, that Franz was saturated. Satured of successess, of victories. And who would have blamed him? But Kaiser Franz, rushing from game to game without break, only showed an understandable reaction which hits anybody unstoppably who is exposed to such a continuous 'football stress'. He even scored own goals, he tottered but didn't fall. Bayern's way out of the dilemma was also Beckenbauer's way back to the top. That way on which Beckenbauer proved that he is capable of playing the libero double role: when Bayern were under great pressure, he suddenly was the masterful 'pure-sweeper'. When Bayern relieved itself from the pressure, and also the national team, he slipped back into the role which he can play so masterfully like no one else: that of the free man, who directs the course of the game from a deep position, who orchestrates his team. The distance in our ranking mirrors the gap to the others caused by his class performances.


    December 1975


    Introduction

    Rankings are and will always be problematic. Especially those in football, as here one can’t measure performances in meters and seconds like in track and field. And it is not about single players like in Tennis but team players. This makes a proper evaluation difficult and creates diverging opinions. Also in our Kicker staff twice a year heated debates emerge about the ranking of single players. It was no different this time. Especially in the category ‘world class’ oftentimes disagreement was seen. Five players finally this degree was bestowed upon: Sepp Maier, Berti Vogts, Franz Beckenbauer and the Mönchengladbach Danes Henning Jensen and Allan Simonsen.

    Although we use a demanding benchmark for this category, we are ready to receive protest from our readership, maybe because some will argue that five players is not enough for the World and European Champions, a league that has the European Cup winner and the UEFA Cup winner. At the same time some readers will disagree with Sepp Maier being rated as ‘world class’, pointing to a number of games in which the Munich player from time to time looked poor, not always showing a level of world class. Thus for example in Frankfurt, when he even was tricked by a corner kick. However, decisive to us is the overall impression over five months, the reliability in this time frame. One should be wary of forming an opinion based on a few clips from television reports. Mistakes by our top players will always stand out more than class performances which are simply expected.

    Too bad that we do not have to offer much regarding forwards. None of our players could hold a candle to the class of the two Danes Jensen and Simonsen. Helmut Schön sure would be glad if he could draw on forwards like the Mönchengladbach players. It’s also sad that due to long-going injuries Gerd Müller and Uli Hoeness could not be assessed and thus are missing. But we are certain that both will have a comeback next year when our next ranking at the end of season 1975-76 is published.

    The cry for midfield playmakers, cold-blooded goalscorers (like Gerd Müller was for many years), for tricky wingers, who can shoot and cross the ball at full speed, is growing louder each year. Our only solace: it’s not just us, the whole football world has the same worries ….


    World Class

    Sepp Maier [Goalkeeper]

    Sepp Maier’s role model was and still is Lev Yashin, the tall Russian, who was still active at the age of 40. Maier indicated already early on that he too wanted to remain active into his late 30s. That Bayern for a long time had a better rank in the table than they actually deserved based on their performances was also a merit of Sepp Maier. That the European Cup winner did lose four consecutive games at the end of the first half of this season (in Bochum and Frankfurt, at home against Köln and Berlin) Sepp Maier could not prevent, albeit blunders (corner kickers) by Maier weren’t absent. A goalkeeper among all players should the least be measured according to single game performances, because he is the one who is most dependent on the performances of his teammates. Often he is a poor man. Essentially Maier managed to keep his World-Cup-winning level of 1974 intact.


    Berti Vogts [Full Back]

    We can confidently repeat our first sentence of our last ranking in summer: we never were at a loss regarding good defenders. No wonder that the top two categories were enriched by an additional name. Hardly anyone really doubted that Berti Vogts would retain his place in the ‘world class’ category. Regardless in which position he plays, be it on the left side or the right side: his opponent always bangs his head against a wall. And his performances for the club and the national team are unchanging. Berti’s profession simply is football and he takes it as seriously as anyone with a profession in civil life.


    Franz Beckenbauer [Libero]

    Which footballer wouldn’t want to be like him? From the little boy to the well-paid professional: countless try to emulate him, to dribble like him, to treat the ball like him, to address inch-perfect passes nonchalantly with the outside of the boot. The captain of the World and European champions and of the European Cup winner, the German record holder for caps with 95 international games again in this ranking is placed in his regular seat – that of ‘world class’. Only seldomly in his ten year career in the national team did Franz Beckenbauer slip down a category: when he was plagued by injuries, which made him lose his form, which in turn made his team Bayern slip into a crisis. Still, we had to think a long time about how we rated the Bayern defense due to the 29 conceded goals. A defense, which is also represented in our ranking by Sepp Maier, Katsche Schwarzenbeck and Bernd Dürnberger. But wasn’t Bayern always under constant pressure in away games during the last five months because the forwards didn’t accomplish much, because the weak midfield regularly couldn’t keep possession? And, coming along on top, Bayern’s defense also had to score the goals.


    Henning Jensen & Allan Simonsen [Foreign Players]

    Foreign players, who earn their money in German clubs, stepped into the spotlight most notably during the first half of this season. On top the two Mönchengladbach Danes Jensen and Simonsen. Of the 35 goals scored by the Bundesliga champion, they alone scored 18 (Simonsen 10, Jensen 8). Arguably, there is no doubt about their assessment as ‘world class’. Further successful goalscorers among the Foreign Players are Sandberg (10 goals), Lippens (7) and also the Hamburg midfielder Björnmose. In general, one could form a powerful team with Bundesliga Foreign Players alone, a team which by all means could stand up to the national team. Perhaps someday we will see such a game, which was suggested recently in Baden-Baden in the context of the honouring of athletes.
     
    giles varley repped this.
  4. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Munich
    #4 Gregoriak, Jun 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017
    July 1976


    Introduction

    The dramatic end of the European Championships in Yugoslavia and the German Cup Final in Frankfurt between Hamburg and Kaiserslautern formed the tail of a colourful season. With the Rangliste of German football, already a tradition, we intend to assess the performances of the players in a critical way. …. in our last ranking we had classified Sepp Maier, Berti Vogts, Franz Beckenbauer and the two Mönchengladbach Danes Jensen and Simonsen as ‘world class’. This time we ‘only’ classified four players in that category. They are Maier among the goalkeepers, Beckenbauer among the liberos, Bonhof among the midfielders and Gerd Müller among the central forwards.



    World Class


    Sepp Maier [Goalkeeper]

    The latest impression always sticks most freshly in memory. While Sepp Maier made a crucial mistake in each of the two last games in the European Championship, he still showed performances of world class level which was also conceded by foreign critics. We can even state that the Munich player has never been in a better form and especially never been that consistent like he was in the last five months. Only one poor performance in the second half of the Bundesliga season when Kaiserslautern’s Toppmöller twice fooled him. Magnificent performances in the European Cup in Lissabon, in Madrid and finally in the Glasgow final. Impressive that Maier even after a blunder never got nervous, remaining unimpressed. Sepp Maier belongs to those players who train more each day they get older. Like once Martin Lauer’s gymnastics, Maier’s gymnastics is also worth seeing. Sepp already before a game is sweaty. His world class is defined by his grasping a situation, his routine, his quick response and his strong nerves. Viktor Ponedjelnik, years ago the center forward of the Soviet national team, now chief editor of “Sowietski Sport”, called Sepp Maier the best goalkeeper since Lev Yashin. Sepp Maier also stated that Yashin is his role model.


    Franz Beckenbauer [Libero]

    Former national team manager Sepp Herberger, who grew up with the leather ball and is part of the “business” since football is around (note: in Germany), ranks Beckenbauer in his own hierarchy of all world stars at the very top: “he belongs to the unmatched ones. Like Di Stéfano, like Pelé”. During the 1966 World Cup the young Beckenbauer almost overnight became part of the world elite – and he managed to stay there ever since. In 100 international games he has proven his prowess, soon in a position which he had to invent for himself: the libero. In this role, Franz is regarded as the measure of all things. Many were benchmarked against him during the last ten years. But for all the standard was too high to reach. Almost all of those that have accused the Munich player of arrogance meanwhile have recognised that a tenacious battle will and commitment is hidden behind Beckenbauer’s elegant playing style. Hardly likely that Bayern had managed to win the European Cup three consecutive times if it wasn’t so. And hardly likely that the famous club from Munich would have managed to rally the Bundesliga in the second half of the season like they did. And also hardly likely that the national team would have managed to force the Czechoslovakians into extra-time if it wasn’t so!


    Rainer Bonhof [Midfielder]

    It’s the midfield where things must happen, where the decisive impetus must come from, where the unexpected ideas must be conceived. Our current ranking meets these requirements like almost never before. A midfielder of ‘world class’, which we haven’t seen for a while, is now seen in Rainer Bonhof. In the ‘international class’ the number of players has increased from five to seven and in the broad circle from four to seven! The Mönchengladbach all-rounder Bonhof, who is rated as ‘international class’ among the full backs already and whose versatility cannot be stressed hard enough, finally managed to reach a world class level during the European championship. The model athlete, who was playing as center forward in his youth and from time to time as left winger, blossoms the most when he is playing in midfield. This he has shown in his club and also the national team. Bonhof can mark and can be a driving force, he has power and stamina, is great at heading and hard in tackling, feared as a freekick-taker and known as a subtle corner-kick taker that can bend them with a real swerve. Some corner balls he swerves towards goal, some away from goal. You remember the European championship: the 2-2 against Yugoslavia (Dieter Müller) was preceded by a Bonhof-corner just like the 2-2 versus Czechoslovakia in the last second (Hölzenbein). With his attitude towards being a professional footballer, Bonhof should be able to maintain his position as ‘world class’ for many years.


    Gerd Müller [Central Forward]

    We’ve never seen this before: a player rated as ‘world class’ who was not even playing in the national team. Gerd Müller makes it happen. The decision was not an easy one: we had long debates over Müller’s assessment. Finally the vote after assessing pros and cons barely leaned towards ‘world class’. Reasoning: his strong form and his wonderful, priceless goals for Bayern in the Bundesliga and the European Cup, among them three goals against Real Madrid, one of them a super goal (1-0) in Munich in the style of Uwe Seeler and two goals against Benfica. And with a bombshell he said goodbye to this season which saw his great comeback by scoring five goals in the last game against Hertha BSC. Thereby he has now broken the ‘sonic barrier’ of 300 goals in the Bundesliga. Abroad, people cannot understand why he is not playing for Germany. Real Madrid manager Miljanic said: “Müller should be forced to play for Germany again.”




    December 1976


    Introduction

    There are things that become boring due to constant repitition. To our joy, this is not the case with our Rangliste of German football, which we publish twice a year. Our readers again and again confirmed their interest in this ranking. …. They know the difficulty in creating an objective assessment of a footballer’s performance level over a longer period of time because unlike other sports in football one cannot measure the level of an athlete’s performance in meters or seconds. Therefore we again expect to be criticised by some of our readers in some cases. This is simply the nature of things. But then again it is pleasant if a debate is stirred. Having said this, such debates must be led in a fair manner. And local patriotism should be left out of such a debate. …. Decisive in our assessment – as always – were not short peak performances but a solid consistent level over a longer period of time. Likewise players that have been injured for a longer period will not be included in our ranking. Example: the most unlucky player in this respect surely is Peter Nogly, who almost certainly would have been ranked as our no. 1 stopper if he hadn’t been forced to pause for so long. The Hamburg player certainly would have been Helmut Schön’s first choice for the national team, too. And it is absolutely possible that a player is ranked in two separate positional categories. Example: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who, when playing for his club, mostly was used on the left wing played very convincingly as a right winger for the national team. And it looks as if his future will be in that position.


    The most heated debates always are caused by the term ‘world class’. It would be ridiculous to dispute whether Franz Beckenbauer belongs into that category. But who actually is equal to him? Practically no one. To stress his special role among our footballers, we could have introduced a new category of ‘super world class’ especially for him. Although we try to be as strict as possible in our assessment, German football is not as devoid of class players as one might think. Apart from Beckenbauer we also listed Sepp Maier, Berti Vogts and Gerd Müller in the ‘world class’ level. Rainer Bonhof, who had a number of really great games in the first half of the season, still failed to convince us over the complete five month period. He was the victim of an extremely marginal poll result and was thus ‘degraded’ from ‘world class’ to ‘international class’. ….



    World Class


    Sepp Maier [Goalkeeper]

    A mere ranking does not show how much actual difference there is between individual players: while Sepp Maier has defended his position as our no. 1 goalkeeper, his edge over Rudi Kargus has decreased. And the difference between ‘world class’ (Maier) and ‘international class’ (Kargus) is not as big as may be discerned by merely looking at the two terms. …. The ambitious Sepp does not tolerate other ‘gods’ next to him, but with Rudi Kargus, he has a good very relationship, especially since he is the ideal supplement of Maier, but tomorrow he might already catch up to Maier. Principally, Helmut Schön would be well advised to deploy Kargus more often during the next year with sight towards the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. Not only once in Istanbul or once in Cardiff. He should be interchanged regularly with Maier.


    Berti Vogts [Full Back]

    Our last ranking was published immediately after the European Championships. There was no full back rated ‘world class’ back then. For the first time in years the Mönchengladbach player Berti Vogts was not classified as ‘world class’ back in July. His poor form was one of the reasons why the national team failed to defend the European trophy. In the final Vogts played a ‘classic’ bad pass which led to the Czechoslovakians first goal. Hennes Weisweiler, who had discovered Berti and who had boosted him over ten years, conceded: “Yes, Berti was poor. But every player has the right to play badly one time. Berti will come back.” Berti himself conceded without hesitation: “yes I was poor and I am partly to blame that we did not win the European championship.” But that episode is over. Yesterday’s news. Vogts managed to regain his former level, was a vital part of the Mönchengladbach team that established a new Bundesliga record in being unbeaten in 13 consecutive games from the start of the season and who conceded the fewest goals. Berti Vogts is the last of the ‘old defender regime’ of unyielding man-markers, the specialists of pure defense. After all he only once scored a goal for Germany in 75 games … against Malta. But how valuable Vogts is, particularly for his club, was seen during the past few weeks. A class player is not only proving himself on the ball but also in the hearts and minds of his teammates. Admittedly Berti Vogts is also the last player who addresses his manager with “chief”.


    Franz Beckenbauer [Libero]

    The number of available players for the position of libero is getting ever smaller. Actually peculiar because in Franz Beckenbauer the arguably best footballer in the world right now is playing this position as the ideal role model. Additionally, this is the position that many players name as their favorite position. But in fact it is not that easy to meet the demands of the modern libero. Of ‘mere’ sweepers, players who are fully occupied with their defensive task, we certainly have a great number. But a libero of class is expected to be a player that can conduct his teammates, who can stimulate the offensive actions of his team. Who, most of all, knows when he can surge forward without great risk, when he can support his midfield, when he can inspire the attack. A poor libero who has a bad judgment can actually weaken his team, a strong libero can act as an ‘extra’ player for his team. Whoever thinks that the libero is a position ‘to rest’ is fundamentally wrong. Especially in professional football of the highest level. Franz Beckenbauer has set the highest standards. Almost untouchable, but desirable. The Munich player is in the form of his life. But still he trains the football ABC every day which some may think is superfluous.



    Gerd Müller [Central Forward]

    Back in summer when we issued our last ranking, not everyone agreed with our assessment of Gerd Müller having been ‘world class’ despite not having played for the national team for two years. A level of ‘world class’ could only be proven in international games for the national team, as some readers argued. That was the stage where the true value of a player could be seen, the European Cup notwithstanding. The ‘Bomber of the Nation’ has confirmed during the last five months that he is rightfully assessed as ‘world class’. He scored 19 goals in the Bundesliga, making him the no. 1 goalgetter again, five goals ahead of Jupp Heynckes, six ahead of Dieter Müller and eight ahead of Klaus Fischer. And add to that his priceless goals for Bayern in the European Cup and the World Club Cup: who would dare challenge Müller’s ranking now? Even the black day in October does not change this, when Bayern lost 0-7 against FC Schalke 04 at home, with Klaus Fischer scoring four goals. Thus one has to regret that Gerd sticks to his decision of not playing for Germany anymore. The only event in which he would play for the German national team again would be a farewell game.
     
  5. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Munich
    #5 Gregoriak, Jun 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017
    July 1977


    Introduction

    … the four games our senior national team played in South America against Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Mexico are reflected in our summer ranking. For example we rated the Hamburg player Kaltz and successor of Beckenbauer as ‘world class’ due to his performances in South America, Rüssmann made a giant leap into ‘international class’ and Fischer as well as Abramczik are on the brink of ‘world class’, but not quite yet. Some of our editors shared the opinion that both Schalke players are already to be rated as ‘world class’ and we are sure many readers will think the same.



    World Class

    Sepp Maier [Goalkeeper]

    Although not everything went well in the European Cup competitions, German football still has a worldwide recognition. There are few positions in which we are as carefree as in the goalkeepers category. Here we are nearly ideally manned, from the national team down to the second division. Alone six goalkeepers were rated as ‘international class’ and Sepp Maier managed to defend his no. 1 position and the ‘world class’ grade. While it is possible that there have been doubts here and there about Maier in the everyday Bundesliga business – only the three relegated teams conceded more goals than Bayern – Maier mostly managed to prove his ability to concentrate, his strength of nerves and his world class in the international games.


    Franz Beckenbauer & Manfred Kaltz [Liberos]

    While Franz Beckenbauer still holds the no. 1 position among the world-class-rated players undisputedly, it was surprising how quickly a replacement for him was found in the national team. No assessment in our ranking has been as striking as that of Manfred Kaltz in the rank of ‘world class’. This audacious decision of our editors was made after a long pondering not without concerns, but still well-founded. The concerns: Kaltz during all the years as a professional in the Bundesliga and in the European Cup has never played in the role of a libero, he only conquered this position at the very end of the season in altogether six games. Mind you, international games, but he was carried by a team that wanted to prove itself after Beckenbauer’s goodbye. The pros: Manfred Kaltz has managed to impress in a completely unfamiliar position in an unfamiliar environment in South America instantly in a magnificent way, thus that his paramount predecessor Franz Beckenbauer overnight has not been missed at all. The taciturn tall man who was erstwhile discovered by Gerhard Heid in the North Baden’s Neuhofen has justified Helmut Schön’s dare to risk. One wonders how Hamburg in all those years never had the idea of using Kaltz as libero, the position he obviously is most suited to and where he attains his maximum.

    Only few might remember that Manfred Kaltz at the very beginning of his ‘international’ career (namely in the DFB youth team) already played stopper and sweeper under manager Herbert Widmayer, together with Kargus, two players that have gone a long way together. Calmness, vision, coolness, good technique and dangerousness in offensive actions especially over the right wing cannot fully conceal his raw point: his left foot is pretty weak. But he is dogged, strong at heading and has the luck that he is now partnered in the national team by Rolf Rüssmann, a stopper who complements him ideally. That being said, of course Franz Beckenbauer is not ‘forgotten’. His charisma and importance for German football is indelible. Therefore it was wise of Helmut Schön not to demand of Kaltz to copy Beckenbauer, to play like a second Beckenbauer. Kaltz does not copy Beckenbauer, he has his own style, not as glamourous and commanding, but he is already remarkably bold and assured. This assuredness he acquired as a full back. His most splendid game: how he neutralized Anderlecht’s superstar Rensenbrink in the Cup Winners Cup final. One may not forget this when he will go through a weaker phase, because he will not be measured against Franz Beckenbauer but against his performances in South America and that was an all too short episode, unable to fend off the fuelling of the slightest doubts should they arise. Among the Bundesliga liberos Kaltz’s position as no. 1 looks most clear, most likely Wittkamp, the seasoned one, could contest it, yet what speaks for Kaltz is his youth and thus the chance for a long-term development after the 1978 World Cup.


    Allan Simonsen [Foreign Player]

    Keegan and Simonsen were in a class of their own! That was the verdict of our Parisian colleague Rethacker after the European Cup final in Rome. The Dane’s playfulness and wit, his workrate, his superb passes and his unrelenting morale again impressed the man of ‘France Football’ after Liverpool’s 3-1 victory over Mönchengladbach. In many Bundesliga games Simonsen also was in a league of his own. Especially in the second half of the season the little will-o’the-wisp, who looks like a dwarf, proved that he is a real man. When Mönchengladbach’s attack was reduced to one man (after Jupp Heynckes’ injury), Simonsen was boldly waging the struggle against the superior numbers of defenders all on his own. The witty dribble wizard didn’t lose his bottle when he faced hardball markers that were a head taller than him. He also never gave up even when everything seemed to conspire against him, when he was hitting the post or barely missed the goal with his shots and headers. No surprise that Simonsen, who was the only Mönchengladbach player that was featured in all 34 Bundesliga games, appeared ten times in our “Team of the Week” which assured him also a place in our “Team of the Season”.


    December 1977

    Introduction

    Things that repeat itself involve the danger of getting boring after a while. The exception proves the rule. An exception is the Rangliste of German football, which is published semi-annually by ‘kicker sportmagazin’ and which is highly anticipated by our readers (and also by the active players!). …. We separate four categories: 1. World Class, 2. International class, 3. Broad circle, 4. considered. The players of the second Bundesliga are by default grouped into the last category because the standard of comparison does not allow us to group them in the three top categories. Moreover, in the fourth category players are ranked alphabetically while in the other categories the ranking mirrors a classification. For the top Players - whose ranking is of the highest interest to our Readers - next to the performances in the Bundesliga our reasoning also included the international performance tests against Finland (1-0), Italy (2-1), Switzerland (4-1) and Wales (1-1). Additionally to that, seven German teams started in European competitions (Mönchengladbach, Köln, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Bayern, Schalke and Braunschweig). Noticeable in this ranking is the absence of Franz Beckenbauer, the most illustrious name for many years. German football has been deprived of one exceptional phenomenon, just like our ranking…



    World Class


    Bernard Dietz [Full Back]

    The story of the full back category this time is mostly that of two dynamic prototypes of modern full backs: Bernard Dietz and Berti Vogts. Especially Bernard Dietz is out of the ordinary. He was a late bloomer, never a call up in the DFB youth team or the juniors team. First cap in the B-team at the age of 26, six weeks later his first A cap. He literally forced himself on the national team due to his consistently convincing performances for MSV Duisburg. He was one of five rookies in the 1-0 away win against Malta in 1974. The other rookies back then were Körbel, Seliger, Nickel and Kostedde. Back then our spontaneous verdict was: “Dietz has seized his chance of being the successor of Paul Breitner one day. He played as if he belonged to the team for a long time. The fiery and fast Magro was under his total control. Also in the offensive he was very impressive.” And already the next ‘kicker’ issue had Dietz on the cover with the headline “Dietz gets another chance”. However he had to wait almost a full year for that second international game. It was the 1-0 victory in the Euro qualifier against Bulgaria which Helmut Schön dubbed “our best game since the World Cup”. There, Dietz was among the best players and we observed: “Bernard Dietz acted so full of self-confidence as if this had not been his second but his 30th international game. He blended ideally into the team, a man of hot temper, his hot-blooded ways resembling Berti Vogts. His positioning is remarkable.” Since that day Dietz only missed one of the next 22 international games and has soared to a world class level. In this last half-year he achieved the best average grade among all outfield players. He established a new Bundesliga record when he scored four goals against Bayern – as a full back! Dietz has set new standards. He is the real discovery since the 1974 World Cup.


    Jürgen Grabowski [Midfielder]

    Two players share the same birthday in July: Jürgen Grabowski turned 34 and Hansi Müller of Stuttgart only 21. Both do not belong to the national team roster. Grabowski retired from the national team after the 1974 World Cup, Hansi Müller so far only operates in the amateur national team and the B-team. The mere thought alone seems adventurous: both of them together for Germany in Argentina! The senior and the junior. Grabowski, the soul of Eintracht Frankfurt was always a man of inspiration, someone able of the unexpected. Because Grabowski is a player that can make a game take a dramatic turn, Helmut Schön contacted Grabowski repeatedly (both live quite closely). But Grabowski time and again declined. Reasoning: “I just had so much luck in 1974. After the defeat to East Germany I was already out of the team. Against Sweden I was subbed in near the end of the game, when the score was 2-2 and on the edge. I scored the 3-2 and thus stayed in the team and became world champion. You can hardly have any more luck than that and also you can’t have a better way to go out than that.” Moreover Grabowski added for consideration: "if I returned to the national team at this point, I would be under a strong mental pressure. All would expect me to repeat my performances for Frankfurt, which came about in a familiar Environment". Still, all this is a real shame!


    Heinz Flohe [Midfielder]

    Heinz Flohe finally became consistent in his performance level, certainly also a merit of his manager Hennes Weisweiler. Some months ago Helmut Schön said: “Actually I have anticipated Heinz Flohe’s breakthrough for about five years.” Everyone is glad that Heinz Flohe finally has been nutured to show that kind of hardness which in football circles is described as “biting through”. When Flohe is dribbling brilliantly around two opponents but is not trying to fool a third one, then he is world class. A forward that knows how Flohe is crossing the ball, that knows how he is taking corner kicks, that forward can score goals non-stop.


    Allan Simonsen [Foreign Player]

    In the poll of the “European Player of the Year” the Dane Simonsen won with a paper-thin lead over the Englishman Keegan. However in our ranking the two superstars among the Foreign Players in the Bundesliga are separated by a bigger margin. Simonsen – world class. Keegan ‘only’ international class. This assessment arguably is justified. While the Dane from Mönchengladbach shines as executor and provider, as fighter and as soloist, the new Hamburg player Keegan needed a long time for warming up. This certainly was not solely Keegan’s fault, as he met some reservations in Hamburg – yet in a ‘trade balance’ such handicaps must not be considered. Ultimately the commendable fighter Keegan showed that in the long run, class will win through anywhere!


    July 1978

    Introduction

    … after World Cups our Rangliste traditionally is especially anticipated by our readers. Because this is when the standards are set in international football for the next four years. And ‘world class’ can only become apparent in comparison with other ‘world class’ players. Argentina was the springboard that the German elite players were expected to use. Yet Argentina also involved the danger for the chosen players to lose some of their image, to even get relegated one or two steps in recognition. All of us secretly hoped for a better upswing for our Bundesliga players yet instead the bygone World Cup brought us even more disappointment. What was already indicated in the disappointing faring of our club teams in the European Cup unfortunately was continued in the World Cup. It cannot be denied anymore: German top professional football is at the bottom of the valley. It is now imperative to do something about this quickly. Regarding our ranking, the sad occasion has come that for the first time we do not have a single player of ‘world class’ after a World Cup! In 1974 we had six in Maier, Breitner, Vogts, Beckenbauer, Müller and Hoeness. In 1970 we had also six in Vogts, Beckenbauer, Schnellinger, Overath, Seeler and Müller! The nomination of Schnellinger was an exception, because Germans that play abroad usually are not considered in our ranking. It’s the same today and will remain that way in the future. Simply because they evade our observation. With Schnellinger in Italy however, our Mexico staff had enough opportunities to examine him carefully and to form an opinion. In our last ranking we still had four players rated as ‘world class’ in Dietz, Grabowski, Flohe and the Dane Simonsen. This time it is only two foreign players who – after critical assessment – we awarded that highest grade: The Swede Hellström, goalkeeper of Kaiserslautern and the Englishman Kevin Keegan of Hamburg. Nevertheless, we should not look towards the future with depression. Although the level of ‘world class’ was not reached by German players, we have observed a number of promising new players in the categories below. It may look more joyful already in half a year!


    World Class

    Ronnie Hellström & Kevin Keegan [Foreign Players]

    The Bundesliga still possesses players of world class, but unfortunately they are currently coming from abroad. In our last ranking the brilliant Mönchengladbach player Allan Simonsen received the grade of ‘world class’ and on top of that he was also voted “European Footballer of the Year”. This time however we had to demote the Dane one category below to ‘international class’. A long-winding injury threw Simonsen off the track and thus he was not able to link to his magnificent performances of last year. Instead, for the first time Ronnie Hellström and Kevin Keegan were rated as ‘world class’. The Kaiserlautern goalkeeper appeared in almost all ‘Best XI’ issued the world over after the World Cup. So much the Viking from the Palatinate managed to impress the international experts, although the World Cup was over for Sweden already after the first round. Kevin Keegan needed a surprisingly long time for warming up in Hamburg. But in the last six months he managed to assert himself as the supreme personality on the pitch and he also shone playing for England.


    December 1978

    Introduction

    The unsatisfactory performances of the national team in the World Cup in Argentina bore the impress on our last ranking in July. For the first time after a World Cup we could not award the grade ‘world class’ to a German player. Only the two foreign players Hellström and Keegan sat enthroned on the top. We had hoped that five months later our ranking would look a tad more pleasant. Yet unfortunately with regards to German players again we have to report negatively. The only one remaing from all Bundesliga players is the Englishman Keegan who has shown sublime performances for Hamburg and has set the standard for the others. It would however be wrong to talk more negatively about German football than it would actually deserve. Instead we have observed a change that is indicated. A change that will also affect Jupp Derwall in rebuilding the national team. Real top teams, like we have had for many years in Bayern München and Borussia Mönchengladbach are currently lacking in the Bundesliga. This of course also has a negative effect on our ranking. Of course there have been quite some debates whether Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Bernard Dietz or Hansi Müller warrant a place in the highest category of ‘world class’. Our reasoning why we left them in the category of ‘international class’ can be seen in our commentary.


    World Class

    Kevin Keegan [Foreign Player]

    … contrary to Belgium we cannot talk of a dominance of foreign players in our highest division. Apart from the year 1978, when Kevin Keegan burst all his limits and soared to being the all commanding man on German football pitches. Keegan – the total centerpiece of Hamburg, Hamburg on the way to the top: a logical consequence of the freedom that this absolute whiz finally is granted by Hamburg. Kevin Keegan, the only player who fully deserved the grade ‘world class’ in our ranking without any constraints.


    July 1979

    Introduction

    It is unfortunate that we have to concede that for the third consecutive ranking we have not a single German player in the category of ‘world class’. About that practically everyone in our meeting agreed rather quickly. We also agreed that the only player who deserved the attribute of ‘world class’ was the paramount Englishman Kevin Keegan of the German football champion Hamburg, a non-German. The absolute star not only of the second half of the season but of the complete season.

    World Class

    Kevin Keegan [Foreign Player]


    The ranking of foreign players in German clubs is without a doubt the jewellery box of the Bundesliga. Here we find not only the only player of world class in the English superstar Kevin Keegan but also the number of players in the category of ‘international class’ is the highest in all of our Rangliste. In our winter ranking only Kaiserslautern’s goalkeeper Ronnie Hellström warranted a place in that category of ‘international class’. That we now have a further six players added to it only allows one conclusion: as the race for the championship was finishing, the fight against relegation and the fight for a place in the UEFA Cup, our clubs could especially rely on their foreign cracks. The diamond among these high-carat gems is doubtlessly Kevin Keegan from Liverpool. No grading was so uncontested in the many hours that our editorial team meeting lasted as Keegan’s grading as ‘world class’. For the 28-year old Englishman this season was a thorough act of unleashing from his chains.


    He finally was accepted by his teammates as the centerpiece of Hamburg and thereby rose to being the absolute exceptional phenomenon of the Bundesliga, the outstanding player on German football pitches.

    December 1979


    Introduction

    There was only one Bundesliga player in our July ranking who we could grade as ‘world class’ which was a little bit depressing. On top of it, that sole Bundesliga player of ‘world class’ was a foreign player, namely the formidable Kevin Keegan of Hamburg. All the more pleasant to note an upswing during the past five months in German football. In four international games and 36 European Cup games in that period that tremendous upswing was also made clear internationally. Of the seven Bundesliga clubs that started in the European competitions six managed to reach the quarterfinal. A new, almost unbelievable record, that was greatly recognized abroad. Hence naturally there’s a lot of movement within our ranking and this time we can also show some movement in the top categories – certainly to your delight. Altogether we can celebrate five players of ‘world class’! In our editorial meeting it was unanimously agreed that Manfred Kaltz, Paul Breitner and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge have absolutely deserved a ‘place in the sun’. However some doubts arose regarding the star of our last ranking, Kevin Keegan. The Englishman needed quite some time to warm-up this season, but then he improved enormously, proving his top class in the national team and in the international games for Hamburg. Next to him a second foreign player stepped into the spotlight. The Korean Cha Bum-Kun, who was not only the darling of the fans in Frankfurt. The exotic player, who is athletic, hard-shooting and dangerous at heading to the surprise of many held his own ground instantly in the “chalybeate bath” of the Bundesliga. Doubtlessly, next to Kaltz, Breitner and Rummenigge it was Keegan and Cha who were the highlights of the first half of the Bundesliga season. Together with the German trio they formed a bright-shining quintet of ‘world class’ level.


    World Class


    Manfred Kaltz [Full Back]

    If only the Bundesliga clubs were as well equipped as they are with full backs. The supply in this position is enormous, the quality splendid, no less than two dozens of side backs are represented in our ranking, seven of them in the upper regions, five more than in our last ranking. The flagship among them is Manfred Kaltz. In his case one could even debate whether he could be ranked among the outside rights as well. But his main job still is that of a right back, only secondarily is he meant to foray into the opposing half. From his onrushing on the right side not only his club Hamburg is benefitting enormously but also the national team. Kaltz is even responsible for a new tactical trend in the Bundesliga: his performances lead to many opposing teams sacrificing a midfield player in order to constrain his area of operation. Still, the Hamburger played cat-and-mouse with his opponents. He doubtlessly deserves the grade of ‘world class’.



    Paul Breitner [Midfielder]

    For years the opinion reigned that the progress of football had leaft out the midfield since the famous triumvirate Beckenbauer/Overath/Netzer had resigned and the Mönchengladbach players Bonhof and Stielike went to Spain. This opinion was still heard in the recent past, especially since the ‘foreigners’ Bonhof and Stielike still were a vital part of the national team and Flohe’s international career ended apruptly after Argentina 1978 and his club career ended tragically in Munich, while Rummenigge was moving ever more out of the midfield to a pure attacking role and Hansi Müller after a great start did not develop as we had hoped. One even concluded that the time of the midfield pillars was over anyhow. Probably fear was the judge in that case as unexpectedly Paul Breitner showed a level of world class, mind you not as a fighter and runner which he already was but as a real player, which we didn’t see of him sufficiently before. This Breitner is indeed the best Breitner there has ever been, much more mature and effective than the world class full back.

    Athletic as ever but by no means not only as a stimulator and workhorse but as the kind of player he longed to be for so long: Paul has become a real conductor. He hits dream passes like the old playmakers did, fights, bullwhips his teammates but knows how to measure this well. This excellent overall impression is not changed by the less impressive performances in Belgrade and Braunschweig. What a pity that Paul has closed the door to the national team, which once again was wide open. We could have used him very well against Turkey.


    Karl-Heinz Rummenigge [Central Forward]

    Let us celebrate! For three years we lacked a central forward of ‘world class’. Now finally Karl-Heinz Rummenigge managed to step into this territory! You surely won’t have to think long about who was the last player we ranked that highly: It was Gerd Müller, “the Bomber of the Nation”, who scored 68 goals in 62 games for Germany and who contributed in a decisive way with his goals and his instinct to Bayern München having become the most successful club. Gerd was unique. Someone like him, the prototype of a center forward, will not be seen again in this century. His successor in the level of ‘world class’ who in his club actually is not his successor – there, Dieter Hoeness was bought to play in that position, which we will deal with later – is a completely different kind of player. The Bavarian from Lippstadt embodies the modern playful central forward, who could just as well be listed among the two winger positions or among the offensive midfielders. Rummenigge’s close control, his dribbling art, his body swerves look fascinating. In the last few weeks he brought this technique to perfection. What he lacked was scoring goals. And that’s what a forward is generally measured by. In October still in the home game against Köln (1-2) he missed several chances after spectacular solos. Four, five times did he face Schumacher all alone and each time he failed to score. Even friend Breitner criticized him harshly: “As an executor he is a failure”. This peeved the self-critical Rummenigge who started to study his failures in front of the goal intensively using video recordings. “Something like that shall never again happen” he swore. And henceforth he not only scored for the national team but also for his club Bayern.


    Cha Bum-Kun & Kevin Keegan [Foreign Players]

    While a number of players in the category of ‘foreigners’ were downgraded in comparison to our summer ranking (especially the category ‘international class’ was halfed thus that we’re only left with three players there), generally we can attest that due to the still high number of foreign players in the top three categories that these stars are by and large worth their money. There are even two players categorized as ‘world class’ this time. In the first place the meteoric rise as ‘man of the season’ of the South Korean Cha Bum-Kun is mirrored. Our staff decided to classifiy the 26-year old East Asian as ‘world class’, breaking a ‘holy rule’ that a player in that category and also ‘international class’ has to prove himself particularly for the national team. For that however Cha during the last months had no possibility. His performances in the Bundesliga and in the UEFA Cup however were so impressive that we decided to make an exception this time. Yet we did not only classify Cha as ‘world class’, on top of that we also ranked him ahead of last year’s superstar Kevin Keegan. Mirrored was the circumstance that Keegan needed a considerably long time to reach his usual level and we honored Cha as the no. 1 foreign player because the Korean managed to set himself apart under difficult circumstances.
     
    giles varley repped this.
  6. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Munich
    #6 Gregoriak, Jun 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017
    July 1980

    World Class

    Introduction

    … compared to our winter rating of the five players we rated ‘world class’ only Breitner and Rummenigge could be rated ‘world class’ again this summer. Manfred Kaltz did not manage to remain in this highest category as he did not keep up the highest and consistent performance level needed for a world class rating in the games for Hamburg, not in the Bundesliga and neither in the European Cup. Next to Kaltz, also Kevin Keegan and Bum Kun Cha had to be relegated from world class to international class. The Englishman in his games for Hamburg but also in his games for the national team in the Euro in Italy had lost a good amount of the form which made him the star of the Bundesliga last year. Also Frankfurt’s Korean star was by a long shot not as efficient and successful as in the first half of the season. This may also be explained because defenders figured out much better how to contain Bum Kun Cha.

    Thus only Paul Breitner and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge remained ‘world class’ and no new player was able to reach this category. For the two Bayern players, their performances for their club already were sufficient to remain world class. There is no stronger pair of players in the Bundesliga. Unfortunately the two cannot repeat their strong performances in the national team together because Breitner does not want to play for Germany any more.

    In Italy, Rummenigge did miss his club partner a lot. As the ace of the Bundesliga, Rummenigge already was sure to be rated ‘world class’ before the European championship. He himself was not entirely satisfied with his performance in Italy since he did not reach his highest possible level there, yet still was voted best player of the tournament. Arguably there is no objection possible in his rating as ‘world class’.


    Paul Breitner [Midfielder]

    The midfield …. the soul of the game. If German football managed to get over the stagnation of its football after the era of Beckenbauer, Netzer, Overath and Müller was over, then it is our midfield which did play a big part in getting over that stagnation. After the victory of Rome we were able to name two players from our four-man midfield: Bernd Schuster and Hans-Peter Briegel. Yet in that formation the best player we have in that position was missing, the only player in that position who we rate as ‘world class’: Paul Breitner.

    It doesn’t bear contemplating what could have been if Paul the Great would have chosen to leave his exile and play for Germany again. But that is just a dream. Breitner himself seems to feel well in the role of the outsider. He is now at the peak of his maturity and of his personal success since the World Cup victory and the European Cup victories with Bayern are mostly credited to Beckenbauer, Müller and Maier, not Breitner: this championship in 1979-80 with Bayern, it was “his” championship. Meanwhile Breitner also was the player who made the “team of the week” most often, he is someone who has learned how to control the space and the pace, he is captain and spokesman of his team, mostly though he is the instigator with a still adamant ambition, a professional through and through. If Breitner didn’t have his “Derwall complex”, he could have had become the King of European football in 1980. But without national team action and no European Cup win this is not possible.

    Karl-Heinz Rummenigge [Central Forward]

    The star of the Bundesliga, the player who received most accolades in this season has remained in the world class category in a souvereign way. There was no debate whatsoever about his rating. The only debate we had was about which position to classify him in. The Bayern player from Lippstadt could have been placed in any offensive category. We could have listed him in the midfield category, as central forward, as outside left and outside right. That’s how versatile he is. Playing for Bayern, he has all liberties in the offensive half of the game and hardly any defensive duties. Jupp Derwall also allowed Rummenigge this freedom in the national team and it was a wise decision. Rummenigge is not a center forward of old, like Uwe Seeler and Gerd Müller or today Klaus Fischer, Dieter Müller or Horst Hrubesch.

    He is a wizard of dribbling, someone who can stick the ball at his feet, who can shield the ball in a cunning way and he is at his best when he can attack coming from a deep position, at his most dangerous when the ball is passed to him so that he can pierce the gaps in a defense. In his club he has the ideal partner in Paul Breitner, two players with a blind understanding, be it in 1-2s or when addressing passes. Breitner knows about Rummenigge’s moves even before Rummenigge starts to move. Understandable that Rummenigge regrets Breitner’s decision not to play for Germany. What Rummenigge lacked in the previous season was cold-bloodedness in front of the goal. He has eradicated this only weakness that he had because he analysed his mistakes in a self-critical way and worked on that weakness. To the 11 goals he scored in the first half of the season he now added 15 goals in the second half and became top scorer for the first time with 26 goals scored. It is this title that he enjoys almost as much as winning the German championship for the first time this year.



    December 1980

    World Class

    Introduction

    … of course in every ranking that we published the interest focused mostly on the ‘world class’ category. In our last ranking we only rated two players in that category: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Paul Breitner. We rated both of them ‘world class’ in our newest ranking, as well but also added Toni Schumacher, Hans-Peter Briegel and Bruno Pezzey while Manfred Kaltz and Hansi Müller are very close to it.

    Harald Schumacher [Goalkeeper]

    “If I only had a goalkeeper like him, then I wouldn’t have to worry that much about qualifying for the World Cup…” is what Austrian manager Karl Stotz said after watching Schumacher playing for Germany in Sofia against Bulgaria. Germany won that game and it was mostly due to Harald Schumacher. Praise from the opponent always outweighs praise from your own folks. And thus we can absolutely claim that Germany again has a keeper of world class and his name is Harald Schumacher of Köln. Surely, he is not yet a Sepp Maier but he is on the best way of becoming a comparable authority and character like the former Bayern keeper. Schumacher managed a uncommonly fast ripening process during the last six months. For the Euro in Italy he was considered a fill-in but already then he played in a souvereign manner and increased the distance between himself and talents like Eike Immel and Walter Junghans. The Bundesliga gave him the last finishing touches when his club Köln was in trouble it was Schumacher that became the great support. His statement back then: “I even have to play libero at our club” clearly show where his strengths are: he is fully concentrated, anticipates everything and cannot be surprised. The space between the goalline and the penalty spot is his territory. Good positioning on the line, knows immediately when he has to leave his goal, sober without showboating antics. In short: the perfect goalkeeper, if, yes if he wouldn’t sometimes had the devil in him.

    Hans-Peter Briegel [Stopper]

    Over the course of the year we always rated Briegel as “international class” but by the end of the year the majority of our writers were now sure he had to be rated in the highest category. Briegel, the former ‘muscle man’ from Kaiserslautern who was more known for his athletic abilities than his football skills by now has mastered the ABC of football in such a high degree that he even managed to oust the national team’s stopper Karlheinz Förster from the first place in this, his strongest position. And he managed this despite him not being able to show what he has to offer as stopper for the national team. His performances for his club already were sufficient to rate him as a stopper of world class. How glad Jupp Derwall can feel for having two such highly-rated players available for the stopper role!

    Paul Breitner [Midfielder]

    … compared to our last ranking we remain with one world class midfielder, the best players are the same as in summer: Breitner, Müller, Magath, Briegel. The midfield has stabilized, only Bernd Schuster left this group since he is now playing for Barcelona in Spain. Paul Breitner has now managed the first position in the midfield category for a third successive time and in each of the last three rankings we classified him as ‘world class’. There is no other player that can dictate the rhythm and the direction of a game (also off the pitch!) like the captain of the German champion Bayern München. No one oozes such charisma and influences his teammates like Breitner. This was especially notable when he missed games due to injury this last half of the season, which happened three times. Breitner now has a reputation as a superstar like before only Uwe Seeler and Franz Beckenbauer.

    Karl-Heinz Rummenigge [Central Forward]

    In the category of the central forwards we can present you the one player whose rating as ‘world class’ is above any doubt: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge! It was a year ago that Kalle stated in an interview with “kicker”: “I can play much better than what I play now”. Well, meanwhile it looks as if he has reached the peak of his performance level. Although Rummenigge is still not satisfied with himself as he stated that he can only be satisfied when he manages to convert 80 percent of goal chances (now he claims to be at 60 percent in his own count).

    This statement comes from a professional who is collecting silverware like few before him: German Footballer of the Year, best player of the European championship, Man of the Year, several times player of the month (as voted by the team captains of the Bundesliga clubs) … there really was never much doubt that “our superstar” would also be voted European Footballer of the Year. Rummenigge is not a central forward of old, not someone who is lurking in the box for his chances like Gerd Müller was. This exceptionally gifted technical player has all liberties to roam wherever he likes, he is at home in any offensive position, be it offensive midfielder or in the center of attack or on the wings. We could have classified him in four separate positions.

    Bruno Pezzey [Foreign player]

    After a while there is foreign company for our German world class players! With Bruno Pezzey a man managed to enter this circle whose classification was never in any doubt.

    After the tall Austrian only played in 14 games last season (the reasons are well known…) he managed to come up trumps in the first half of this season. Not only his supremacy as defensive organisator but most of all his power in offensive actions made the libero one of the most sought-after players in European football. Jupp Derwall is so fond of the Austrian that he recently said: “I would take him immediately if I could”. And many in Germany think the same.


    July 1981

    World Class

    Introduction

    ...after we had rated five players as 'world class' in our last ranking - Harald Schumacher, Hans-Peter Briegel, Paul Breitner, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Bruno Pezzey - this time we only rated four players in this category. Briegel from Kaiserslautern could not keep up his sublime form of the first half of the season and also he hardly ever was deployed as a stopper, the role in which we classed him as 'world class'. Instead he now rose in the ranks of the full backs to the first position in 'international class', ahead of Manfred Kaltz and Bernard Dietz.


    Harald Schumacher [Goalkeeper]

    Harald 'Toni' Schumacher without a doubt has been the 'king' among German goalkeepers over the last six months and even among his competitors there is no one who would deny that. He was both in the national team and for his club Köln very consistent, showing high class performances non-stop and he was one of the most important pillars in the teams of Jupp Derwall and Rinus Michels. Schumacher has improved his positioning on the goalline in comparison to the past couple of years and was an absolutely calming influence in defense. His hot temper however sometimes breaks out but when push comes to shove, one can rely on Toni. Hence there was no question about it in our editorial team: Schumacher is world class!

    Paul Breitner [Midfielder]

    ... outranking all other midfielders once more is Paul Breitner who we classified as 'world class' for the fourth successive time. Surely, Paul did have some lows in the second part of the season, for example during the icy winter months, but how he managed to get out of that low - and with him, that of his club - deserves unshared appreciation. Regarding morale and attitude nobody can compare to him. The ability to inspire a whole team, the ability to decide a game almost on his own - these are qualities which make him stand above the rest. With the motivation of the 1982 World Cup in his beloved Spain in view, Breitner will hardly allow to get pushed from his throne as Germany's no. 1 midfielder by anyone.

    Karl-Heinz Rummenigge [Central Forward]

    The 'shooting match' of the two top scorers Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Manfred Burgsmüller was arguably the most thrilling duel of the Bundesliga. Similar to Bayern trailing Hamburg by three points during the season, Burgsmüller once even had scored nine goals more than Rummenigge and still he was caught by his rival on the finishing line. True, with the help of his teammates Rummenigge scored seven goals in the last three games of the season while Burgsmüller didn't score a single goal. Now then, we are well equipped regards to central forwards. The fine distinction to the center forwards is noticeable: These 'tanks and bombers' were lurking for crosses and through balls, were positioned in the center, were using head and feet: Uwe Seeler and Gerd Müller were like that. Our successful central forwards of today have a more broad area of operation. They expand their reach to the neighbourhood of their position. Burgsmüller is coming from midfield, Rummenigge from the right wing. 'Kalle' especially could be categorized in every offensive position. That's how modern football goes.

    But even our super-fast, multi-variant goalgetter no. 1, now even captain of the national team, had to learn to wait: he went through a low phase between the 13th and 20th round when he failed to score a single goal. This phase started at the end of the first half of the season, spanned the Mini World Cup in Montevideo and the time when Bayern struggled and everything looked determined for a championship of Hamburg. But then the breakthrough! Rummenigge pushed through his proposal: Breitner (and not Beckenbauer) back to the national team. It was a double-dealing of Bayern's superstars and it bore fruits. Not everything worked. The European Cup remained in England, but Rummenigge scored his goals here as well and in the national team and most of all in the Bundesliga. There were goals among it of which people spoke of for days, for many observers the goal scored in duet with Paul Breitner was the goal of the year.

    Bruno Pezzey [Foreign player]

    What has happened to the foreign players in the Bundesliga? For years foreign players were the crown jewels of the Bundesliga as no other category could show off 'world class' and 'international class' ratings as often as this one. In our summer ranking of 1979 there were Kevin Keegan (world class) as well as Buljan, Hellström, Oblak, Pezzey, Popivoda and Jara (all 'international class') - seven players in the two highest categories.

    In Winter 1979 there were Keegan and Cha (both 'world class') as well as Buljan, Hellström and Pezzey - five players in the highest categories. While no foreign player was rated 'world class' in the summer of 1980, there were still six players rated 'international class' (Keegan, Pezzey, Woodcock, Jara, Cha and Hellström). But since then things are going downhill for the foreign players. Half a year ago only Pezzey ('world class') as well as Hellström and Jara were rated in the two highest categories.

    And this time, our editorial team in fact only rated two players in these categories: Frankfurt's Bruno Pezzey as 'world class' and the reliable Ronnie Hellström, a regular in the 'international class' category. Pezzey's rating as 'world class' again was absolutely undisputed, mirroring his sublime performances for Frankfurt and the Austrian national team equally.


    December 1981

    World Class

    Harald Schumacher [Goalkeeper]

    Years ago Muhammad Ali said of himself "I am the Greatest". Harald Schumacher has said something similar these days. Self-confident, casual, loose - a man full of self-confidence! He is convinced of himself. We want to and we have to concur. In the Bundesliga, Toni really is "the greatest" among goalkeepers. His performances in the national team and for his club Köln have caused us to rank him in the category of 'world class'. Presently Schumacher has no competition in the Bundesliga. The goalkeeper of Köln distinguished himself with his level of consistency in the Bundesliga, he almost always was rated among the best players of his team, leading his teammates by example. Not without reason did Schumacher save three of the five penalties against his team! But also national team manager Jupp Derwall was rejoicing in Schumacher's performances. Without any discussion, Schumacher today is considered peerless as the national team's no. 1 goalkeeper. Toni also is counted as a trump card for Germany in the World Cup in Spain. He didn't have a single weak performance for the national team this season so far.

    Manfred Kaltz [Full Back]

    The surprises coming from Hamburg go on and on: Manfred Kaltz for example stated recently that he is flirting with the libero position "in his old age" if Beckenbauer would retire by the end of the season. Hieronymus will have been startled by that statement. But there is also manager Ernst Happel under whom Kaltz again rose to the category of 'world class'. The last time we ranked him there was in December 1979, Kaltz even had slipped to second place among the full backs in summer 1981 behind Hans-Peter Briegel. After 18 months the Hamburg player has made it again thanks to constantly good performances for the national team, where he also stood out as a successful goalscorer, and on the international level of the UEFA Cup. In view of the World Cup next year in Spain everyone will take note of the distinctly better performances of Kaltz with satisfaction. His urge to join the attack has made Kaltz even our best right winger (in disguise). Anybody that once has studied Kaltz's way of movement closely will have assessed that whenever Kaltz is joining the attack, he fully acts like a forward without the bumpiness that defenders usually show when they go forward. We must also mention that Kaltz is ranked as the no. 1 right back in all European and Overseas rankings. What Kaltz and the second-ranked Briegel share is that whenever they move forward, they degrade 'their' forwards to defenders, as suddenly the forwards have to chase the defenders.

    Karl-Heinz Rummenigge [Outside Right]

    He shows as much on the right wing as on the left side, in central attack or in offensive midfield. We could have easily ranked him 'world class' in all of these positions: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the superstar of the Bundesliga. We were content with ranking the captain of the national team in the highest category there is as central forward and outside right, a position where he was 'only' ranked as 'international class' last summer. The man from Lippstadt has become a great personality playing for Bayern München and is setting the highest standards. When the allrounder is coming from the right wing, when he has more space, his art of dribbling and his elegant ball control are captivating. Rummenigges crosses are 'pure candy' for his teammates Dieter Hoeness (Bayern) and Klaus Fischer or Horst Hrubesch (Germany).


    Karl-Heinz Rummenigge [Central Forward]

    The other central forwards of the Bundesliga should actually go green with envy. Or they have accepted it as irrevocable fact that for years the allround forward Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is stealing the show, relegating them to second place. The exceptional forward who feels like he is in the best form of his life (as he recently said to 'kicker') would even look better if he would convert his goal chances more optimal. This is the only thing he lacks a bit right now. 7 goals in the Bundesliga is actually not enough for a player like him. Instead, he bagged many goals playing for the national team, outranking Klaus Fischer and Horst Hrubesch considerably.

    Bruno Pezzey [Foreign player]

    The changes in the assessment of the category 'foreign players' by nature are markedly. Every year players come and go like last summer Jara and Nastase (left the league) while newcomers like Six and Bastrup were new entries. The king of this category remains Bruno Pezzey. The libero of Eintracht Frankfurt and of the Austrian national team was part of the teams that qualfified for the next rounds of the European Cup and the World Cup in Spain. The tall Bruno played a huge part in these accomplishments. In the Bundesliga no other player in that position appears as dynamic as him. Bayern München knew what they wanted but the reaction from Eintracht Frankfurt is well-known. This Bruno Pezzey has become a symbolic figure for the club from the River Main. The future will belong to Eintracht if Pezzey can lead the talents Falkenmayer, Anthes and soon also Sievers and Trieb. While Pezzey confirmed his ranking as 'world class' in immaculate fashion, from the six players we ranked behind him last summer only two remained, namely Hintermaier and Cha. The previous no. 2, Hellström, was set back due to an injury.
     
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  7. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Munich
    July 1982

    World Class

    Introduction

    ... four years ago after the World Cup in Argentina it occurred for the first time that we did not class a single player as 'world class'. The lacking performances in Argentina are certainly still in everyone's memory. Only two foreigners (Hellström and Keegan) were reigning supremely in the highest level back then. Now, after the shameful performances in Spain in the first round, it looked as if there was another failure on the horizon. Thankfully our team boosted its level over the course of the tournament. Eventually the two players that played most consistently over the tournament were classified as 'world class', confirming the high performance level that they showed for their clubs: Karlheinz Förster and Pierre Littbarski. On a less positive note, Rummenigge slipping down shows the difficulty in creating such a ranking but at the same time the criteria by which we measured the players. For this ranking, the performances during the last six months are exclusively looked at. And in this period, the Munich player - also due to his injuries - could not reach his true level and was not sufficiently consistent.

    Karlheinz Förster [Stopper]

    The best Förster there ever was: that was Karlheinz Förster during the World Cup. The dread of every center forward. Only the best of the '82 World Cup, Rossi, once managed to score against him. And even then the guilt was not even half on Förster's side. His goalkeeper had a bigger share in that. The younger Förster has been our number one stopper for quite some time now. But this high he has never been categorised, he has never been the number one in his position by such a big margin as today. Behind him in our last ranking we classified Hans-Peter Briegel but he did not play as stopper anymore during the second part of the season, only nominally in few occasions. The second place is now reserved for Rolf Rüssmann. Next to the captain of our Junior World champions - Ralf Loose - he has confirmed his reliability and great strength at heading and had a big share in Dortmund reaching the UEFA Cup this season. Rüssmann brings back memories. During the last World Cup in Argentina he was our stopper and Förster the stopper of our amateur national team, which was third in the 1978 European championships in Athens. For Förster the 1978 World Cup was too early.

    We remember being asked by a DFB official who the blond young man was, to which we answered: "our stopper of the future, soon to be our no. 1". And indeed: Karlheinz Förster has managed to fully meet all the expectations, and these were high expectations. The boy from Odenwald is a true student of the Waldhof school. His youth coach Kobberger put the first touches on him. Kobberger especially valued Förster's total commitment on the pitch, in training and even in his sparetime. The role of stopper is not an appealing job, for getting that much out of this position, a real man is needed. And at the same time he's a fine chap. Tough, yes, but not tougher against others than he is against himself. Förster has a fast acceleration and over the course of a game, his grip on his opponents gets ever firmer. That his impact decreases when he goes forward is well known. But for a stopper who has a far more important job on the pitch, this is only a sidenote since he is doing so well in his actual task.

    Pierre Littbarski [Outside Right]

    The smallest man is the greatest to us! There was only little debate in our editorial staff regarding his classification as 'world class'. Too definite and obvious is his edge in terms of witty playfulness, understanding of the game and his qualities as an executor over all other German forwards. The 1982 World Cup, for many a personal disaster, made him a winner. He assisted six goals of our national team, two he scored himself. His way of playing always served his team, his cunning dribbling and his feared shots made him the horror of defenses, often cutting through them like a knife through butter. Decisive for his classification however also is his maturity as a man. In this respect the 22-year old Littbarski was ahead of many of his older teammates. He was the first one that faced the press after the disaster against Algeria. He was the one consoling Uli Stielike and Didier Six after the misses in the penalty shoot-out. He was the one who admitted that he was not strong enough in the World Cup final. Altogether, a super half-year for the native Berliner, who for the first time also left Karl-Heinz Rummenigge behind.



    December 1982

    World Class

    Introduction

    Nothing is as steady as change. This dictum is also applicable for our ranking. This time especially regarding our 'world class' category, which naturally attracts the biggest interest of our readers. In summer we had only classified two players in that category in Karlheinz Förster and Pierre Littbarski. Both of them managed to shine brightly despite the overall shadow of the World Cup while Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Harald Schumacher and Paul Breitner had to make do with being ranked as 'international class'. Especially in the case of Rummenigge, as we expected, did we receive many protest letters from our readers. He had suffered from a half year full of bad luck, just could not reach his normal performance level which he usually does due to his enormous talents. And that's the way it is with our ranking that we only count what a player actually accomplished on the pitch. During the last half year - synonymous with the first half of the season - it eventuated what was to be expected: 'Kalle' conquered back his place in the sun, he is now listed both in the central forwards and wingers categories as 'world class'. Along with him, also Schumacher and Breitner came back, while Karlheinz Förster, the German footballer of the year, and Pierre Littbarski slipped down to 'international class'.

    Harald Schumacher [Goalkeeper]

    Harald 'Toni' Schumacher made it again. After he had "only" been ranked as 'international class' in our last ranking, which also incorporated the World Cup in Spain, we had to rank him in the 'world class' category again this time. Schumacher, our national team goalie, was in absolute top shape playing for Köln as well as Jupp Derwall's team. He never let his teammates down, especially when it mattered, he was on the spot! The Köln goalkeeper suffered a long time from the bad publicity about him after the World Cup, something he brought about himself and which lasted for months. Still he proved to be strong-nerved when it mattered, so that even a big French paper, which had criticised Schumacher massively after the Battiston incident, acknowledged that "Schumacher may not be a good character, but in any case he is currently the world's best goalkeeper." Schumacher meanwhile certainly is his old self again. Each weekend he demonstrates his absolute class.

    With his age of 28 he now is at the peak of his powers. Behind Schumacher we have ranked three goalkeepers as 'international class' but all of them will have a hard time ousting Schumacher for good.

    Paul Breitner [Offensive Midfielder]

    They are the centerpiece of the game, they are the control center of their team. When they fail, nothing works: the offensive midfield players are expected to combine all virtues of a professional footballer: technique and combat power, inventiveness and playfulness, pace and shooting. No wonder that they are usually traded for more money than their colleagues of the defensive section. Usually as much money as the goalgetters. Moreover, additionally to their already mentioned abilities they also are expected to score goals themselves regularly. A glance at the list of the top scorers proves it. At every possibility opportunity they are expected to get close to the goal, to try to score themselves. Shots from outside the box have to be part of their repertoire anyway. Offensive midfielders and central forwards - these two positions in our ranking - are very often intertwined in modern football. The most fitting example for this is Manfred Burgsmüller. But let us first address the number one. Paul Breitner has reappeared in the category of 'world class' after an absence of one year. Whether his addition to the national team was a benefit remains controversial, whereas his value for Bayern München is inestimable. Not to mention the impact of the Breitner-Rummenigge duo, which is peerless, Paul is the "spiritual centerpiece" of his team. When things are not going well, it is Breitner who is hitching up the sleeves, the one who is instigating his teammates. Five goals in the first half of the season (two penalties) prove his shooting prowess along his generall offensive prowess. Bayern is right now trying to persuade Breitner to continue for another year. Bayern München without Breitner at the helm right now is inconceivable.

    Karl-Heinz Rummenigge [Central Forward]

    While our last ranking suffered from a lack of perspective regarding central forwards, this time we can look into the future more optimistically. Behind Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who after classy performances in the first half of the Bundesliga season again moved back to the 'world class' category, two young players established themselves in the 'international class' that played in the second division last season (Völler) or who were not even assessed at all (Milewski).

    Karl-Heinz Rummenigge [Winger]

    .... Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has ousted Pierre Littbarski this time, regaining his world class form distinctly and without any question marks just like Toni Schumacher and Paul Breitner regained their world class form. No one will aruably doubt this. Pierre Littbarski was burdened with tasks the 22-year old young father could hardly cope with: he was active for his club, for the U 21 team and in the World Cup.



    July 1983

    World Class


    Introduction

    ...Felix Magath, the great playmaker of the European Cup winner Hamburg and the scorer of the 'golden goal' in Athens, for the first time has managed to be ranked in the 'world class' category, as did 'newcomer' Jean-Marie Pfaff, the goalkeeper of the Belgian national team. Our national team goalkeeper Harald Schumacher remained in the highest category while Suttgart's stopper Karlheinz Förster had a comeback after a pause of half a year. Thus four players were rated as 'world class' after some heated discussions. Where is Rummenigge? Where Breitner? Many will ask this. We did receive already armor-clad protest letters after we did not rank Rummenigge 'world class' in the summer of 1982. But precisely his example - and that of Breitner - emphasizes the criteria by which we rank the players. Only the performances during the six months that we look at matter. And during this time frame, the super technician of Bayern did not show the high level which he undoubtedly is capable of. Neither in his club nor for the national team. Paul Breitner had to labour with constant injuries and hence only appeared in two European cup games and seven Bundesliga games.

    Players that were injured over a considerable spell during the timeframe we look at (like Breitner) or did not play due to other reasons are not assessed in our ranking. Also those players that play abroad are not assessed (Schuster, H.Müller, Stielike).

    Harald Schumacher [Goalkeeper]

    Toni Schumacher certainly is not everybody's darling, like Sepp Maier before him was. A gag for the fans here, a shoulder clap there - people loved Sepp Maier. But "popularity" was never Schumacher's strength, which was also seen recently after the Cup final when Schumacher insulted the fans. But there is one thing that Schumacher and Maier share: both dominated their position in the Bundesliga and the national team in a way that their reserve keepers were never viewed as 'rivals', but really only as reserve. This was the same in the second half of the 1982-83 season. Schumacher commanded the goal of the national team in a souvereign way, he even shined in the game of the national team in Portugal where his teammates disgraced themselves. No different in his club. Toni, Toni über alles. Not least because of him did his club Köln reach the UEFA Cup despite all setbacks and form fluctuations of his clubmates. And then he crowned his performances by winning the German Cup. Schumacher thus still the no. 1 German goalkeeper and the only one rated as 'world class'.

    Karlheinz Förster [Stopper]

    Yes, he made it again! The player from Stuttgart once again climbed into the 'world class' category, from which he fell due to adverse circumstances in our last ranking. Back then he had suffered a nagging injury in the game against England which set him back during most of the first half of the season because he started to play again too early after his injury and could not meet the expectations. But in the second half of the season he more than made up for that, was constantly in very good shape and again 'world class'. Not least because of the very good impression he left in the 1982 World Cup did journalists vote him as 'German footballer of the year'. Karlheinz Förster is still the highest measurement for stoppers in this country.

    Wolfgang-Felix Magath [Offensive Midfielder]

    After an impressive first half of the season he again sat enthroned at the very top as our only offensive midfielder in the highest category. Now he retires without getting a place in our ranking. Bad luck for Paul Breitner. He only played in two European Cup games and seven Bundesliga games (five of them 90 minutes), which was not enough to be assessed in our ranking. In Felix Magath, Breitner has a worthy successor. To be sure, the playmaker of HSV does not appear as dynamic as Breitner but he is more inventive and technically superior. Wonderful are his crosses that he bends so well and his freekicks and his well-timed passes. Magath's fantastic ball control also was seen when he scored his "goal of the year" in Athens against Juventus. Too bad that the 29-year old has resigned from playing in the national team. Magath could be very useful for Derwall's team.

    Jean-Marie Pfaff [Foreign Player]

    At the start of the season he was considered a flop but this was only the humble start of an astonishing victory parade. Jean-Marie Pfaff, who in the very first game had touched a throw-in by Bremen's Uwe Reinders which made it an own goal, is one of the few foreign players who managed a breakthrough already in their first season due to superior performances. In essence, the Belgian national team goalkeeper was the guarantee for the highly-bet Bayern team not to miss every one of its aims this season and at least managed to qualify for the UEFA Cup. In autumn the 29-year old Belgian - who combines a joker nature with a high performance level like Sepp Maier in the past - still had to fight off certain reservations. Also among our editorial staff. A bare majority in winter was of the opinion that Pfaff had to be classed 'merely' as 'international class'. But this time there were no doubters! His performances in the second half of the season have been so convincing that we have to rank him on the same level as Harald Schumacher of Köln and thus in the 'world class' category.




    December 1983

    World Class


    Introduction

    German football has lost some of its class. At the same it has become poorer in terms of class players. .... of the four players that we rated 'world class' this summer only two have remained in the same category: Harald Schumacher and Jean-Marie Pfaff, the two goalkeepers. Felix Magath, who was a great playmaker and scorer in Athens against Juventus couldn't keep his position in the highest category just like Karlheinz Förster slipped down a category. And new names didn't manage to crack the highest category just like Karl-Heinz Rummenigge didn't manage a return to 'world class' level. The player from Munich, who shows sign of wear and who constantly was troubled by injuries, is a prime example of the criteria which our ranking is based on, where only factual performances are measured, not the performance level a player is capable of. In 'international class', where we rated 22 players last time, only 14 players can be named this time. ...

    Harald Schumacher [Goalkeeper]

    Two goalkeepers are the top stars of the Bundesliga. This says more than thousand words about the lack of quality the top division has shown the past half year. Well, goalkeepers are part of the game, too. And if they happen to be better than defenders and forwards, one should not withhold that. Toni Schumacher and Jean-Marie Pfaff currently outclass all other players in the top division. We will write about the sunnyboy from Belgium, who had a main share in some of Bayern's success in the European Cup and in the Bundesliga, in the 'foreign player' category. Toni Schumacher, the only German player of 'world class', defended his top position among goalkeepers due to his enormous ambition. Even in bad games like the one against Albania, which was so important for the qualification for France 84, Schumacher beat his 'crown prince' Dieter Burdenski to the second place. The Bremen player, driven by his good performances for Werder, risked a showdown and demanded a starting place in the national team. Toni Schumacher responded laconicly: "I will play. Period." An argument that also manager Jupp Derwall couldn't close his mind to. And why should he annoy his absolute number one? The critical statements about the performances of the national team may be justified. But there is one player who has to be excluded from that critique, because he never failed and was always reliable and very often showed sublime performances: Toni Schumacher.

    Jean-Marie Pfaff [Foreign Player]

    The idea is forcing itself on us when we browse over the list of high quality foreign players in the Bundesliga: what would it look like if a selection of the best German Bundesliga players would face a selection of the best foreign Bundesliga players? The team: Pfaff - Krauss, Pezzey, Herlovsen, Okudera - Keser, Sigurvinsson, Lerby - Cha, Nilsson, Corneliusson. They wouldn't be fighting a lost cause against any German team. Beating this team wouldn't be easy! First and foremost, the player with the no. 1 on his back would have to be beaten. And in this respect, Jean-Marie Pfaff, the only foreign player of 'world class' level, will be very adamant. He almost was even better than in the first half of the year 1983 and won a lot of fans with his sympathetic appearance. The greatest compliment: one can hardly imagine the Bundesliga without him anymore!
     
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  8. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Munich
    July 1984

    World Class

    Harald Schumacher [Goalkeeper]

    If only we had so few problems in other positions as we have with goalkeepers! We then wouldn't even have to waste one sentence about the demise of German football! One rated as 'world class', four (including the Belgian Pfaff) in 'international class', five (including the Swede Hellström) in 'broad circle' and far and wide no underachiever!

    A record that proves that the men with the number one on their back not only wear this number due to numerical reasons. Let's have a more detailed look: Harald Schumacher, who everyone calls Toni, has defended his no. 1 position and his rating as 'world class' with his very own kind of ambition. For his club Köln he so often had to be the pillar on which weaker clubmates had to lean against. That was his homework. Yet his goalkeeper-diploma came when he played for the national team. A graduate which took a real man to pass. Especially the friendly game against France in Strasburg and the three games in the European Championship toughened his senses. The boos and whistling of the vengeful French crowd must have felt like arrows. On the outside, he endured this like a stoic and answered back in his own way: with performances that silenced all doubters about his world class. Everybody understood this language. Tonis statement after the knock-out against Spain was directed at his teammates: "Looks like I will have to train even more in the future to be able to catch balls like that as well". His comment about Maceda's goal, who was allowed total freedom in the German box for his header.

    Asgeir Sigurvinsson [Foreign Player]

    This has never happened before in the Bundesliga's 21-year history: the best outfield player of the league hails from a little island republic just south of the polar zone. It is Asgeir Sigurvinsson of Iceland who became an international star in Belgium, couldn't get past Paul Breitner in Munich and now reached the summit in his second year in Stuttgart. The midfielder of Germany's new champion Stuttgart is next to Toni Schumacher the only Bundesliga player who we saw fit to be rated 'world class' during the last six months. In these parts, Sigurvinsson is one of the few prototypes of the midfield playmaker. Equipped with an almost perfect technique, a brilliant overview of the game and an imposing personality, he impressed in the decisivie weeks of the championship also as a scorer of important goals. For sure, the international performance test Sigurvinsson will have to face in the European Cup next season. But Sigurvinsson was such a defining power in this season that we saw it justified to rank him on the same level as Schumacher.




    December 1984

    World Class


    Introduction

    Foundation of this ranking are the performances in the first and second division since the start of the season as well as Cup games, the European Cup and games of the national team. Performances have to be sustained over a longer period of time. One hit wonders won't be considered. The record of the last few years proves: German football has become poorer with regards to real top players. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Hans-Peter Briegel joined Italian clubs. We could not assess them anymore, because Germans abroad can only be assessed after a World Cup or a European Championship because then we can compare their performances with that of other players. What is true for Rummenigge and Briegel is also true for Hansi Müller, Bernd Schuster and Uli Stielike. Hence there is only one player left who deserves the accolade of being 'world class': Toni Schumacher! The goalkeeper of Köln and the national team confirmed his extra class playing for a fickle Köln side. One weaker performance in the 1-5 vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach does not carry weight. Six months ago there was a second top player. It was the time when Stuttgart had become champions - with the world class playmaker Asgeir Sigurvinsson. His example shows how fast in football light changes into shadow. The Icelandian did not play a single good game in the first half of the season. Too little to be even considered in our ranking.

    Harald Schumacher [Goalkeeper]

    A lot has changed in the last six months. Slowly but surely we notice a changing of the guards in the highest categories. Young men like Ehrmann and Aumann as well as goalkeepers who had stood in the shadow of others for a long time (Sude) are now edging forward, leaving many established goalkeepers behind. About the two highest positions however there is no discussion whatsoever. Toni Schumacher remains in the category of 'world class' also in the second part of this year - our editorial staff had a quick decision about that. "The Footballer of the Year" saved his club Köln and the national team in precarious situations oftentimes.

    Whenever it matters, the 30-year-old Schumacher shows up and proves his absolute reliability. It was little short of a miracle that Schumacher's nerves only failed him once (in the 1-5 debacle against Mönchengladbach) despite the tantalizing contract negotiations with his club. But bad games like that we can count on one hand when it comes to the super professional Schumacher.


    July 1985


    World Class

    Introduction

    ... Naturally the main interest is resered for the top positions of our ranking. It is pleasant that we can rate Rudi Völler, Pierre Littbarski and Klaus Allofs in the category of 'world class'. Even more pleasant is that they are three forwards! This not only proves the general upward trend but also the positive development in this difficult position. Because for a long period it looked 'poor' with regards to our forwards. The last one who we rated as 'world class' in that position was Karl-Heinz Rummenigge at the end of 1982. Last winter we only had a goalkeeper ranked in the highest category in Toni Schumacher. The Köln keeper, who was rated 'world class' eight times in the last ten rankings slipped one position down. Schumacher had an almost permanent place in the category of 'world class' since 1980, even in those years when German football was going down, the Köln player was a firm, striking presence. His international reputation is still big but in this new ranking he slipped out of the world class category. Toni did not show his usual level of brilliance and reliability that we have become used from him in recent years. Surely, it is not only his fault that Köln conceded so many goals this year (only the relegated sides Karlsruhe and Braunschweig conceded more as well as Kaiserslautern). Toni however is being too convenient when he solely blames his defenders for that misery. No, quite a few of the goals were due to mistakes by Schumacher and he also was not unfallible playing for the national team (see the 0-1 in Hamburg vs. Hungary). These facts induced us to demote Schumacher from 'world class' to 'international class'.

    Rudolf Völler [Central Forward]

    Lucky is Franz Beckenbauer! Even two players in our ranking are rated as 'world class' and unbelievably only one of them can claim to be a sure starter for the national team. The number one of course is Rudi Völler. The goalgetter of Werder Bremen is the prime example of a modern central forward. Not a tank - but very adept header. Not a model athlete - but unbelievably robust. And his stamina astounds time and again. The 25-year old does not only wait for getting the ball served on a platter but tries to get on the ball by his own initiative, moves out to the wings, drops back and serves his teammates with good passes. Since Völler has become persistent in his performances, he has established himself in the 'world class' category. Of course these qualities have already been noticed abroad and when the Italians open their borders again a chase will start that will be won by that club that spends the most money on him. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had lost his leading position among Germany's best forwards already for several years to Rudi Völler and who knows, maybe "Ruuudi" will establish a new transfer record deal someday?

    Klaus Allofs [Central Forward]

    On to number two: together with Pierre Littbarski, Klaus Allofs forms the highest-quality attacking duo in the country. In the national team however Allofs still fights for a starting place: while he belongs to the roster he still has not prevailed, which was also caused by bad luck with injuries.

    Pierre Littbarski [Winger]

    Our football welcomes back wingers! In the last and second to last ranking we only had one player ranked in 'international class', given to a player that today is rated among the central forwards (Klaus Allofs). But now they are bubbling up again which is a blessing for the game and to the benefit of the spectators. Because wing play makes football more enjoyable - and more promising. There were times when it was believed it was pure luxury to deal with wingers.

    The decision was made in the center anyway and didn't our most succesful club practise the "wingless" game? It took a long time to reflect on that and change opinions. At the front of this movement is Pierre Littbarski. His withdrawal to the midfield was paying off insofar as people grasped that this was not the right move for his talents in the same way as one grasped that being captain of his team was not matching his nature. But now again he is tricking his opponents, thank god! A blessed player has found hisself again and his way of playing. He blossoms again, shows an abundance of ideas, conjures, shoots and scores. For Köln and also for the national team, like recently against Malta, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Mexico - as long as his power engine is not empty. His goal against Werder Bremen was the talk of the town. A sorry looking player has again become a leading player!


    July 1986

    World Class


    Harald Schumacher [Goalkeeper]

    Back to world class: after his impressive display during the World Cup in Mexico no doubts remained among our writers that Harald Schumacher had ascended his throne again. Despite his mistake which led to the 1-0 to Argentina in the World Cup final. Strengths of nerves under stress, qualities of a leader and intelligent play as a goalkeeper distinguish the 32-year old keeper of Köln. If he had his way, with his incomparable ambition, it would remain that way for years to come.

    Karlheinz Förster [Defender]

    It has long been a good tradition that defense was one of the strengths of German football. But, of all times, right ahead of the World Cup in Mexico our national team reveal defensive weaknesses. The constant change in the libero position was as characteristic for this as were the problems with the so-called 'man markers' (a year ago we accounted for the progress in modern football by merging the positions of the full back and the stopper). Even a man like Karlheinz Förster, almost a decade a staple as a marker, was not as reliable anymore as we were used to. The strains of his career had left traces, physical resilience and mental crispness had suffered which led to an obvious form crisis. Thus already in the last ranking Förster was toppled by Munich's 'late bloomer' Norbert Eder als Germany's no. 1 defender. In the test games before the World Cup Förster's starting place became in doubt. Some critics promptly exaggerated and demanded from 'Teamchef' Beckenbauer to drop Förster completely. In Mexico Karlheinz Förster has taught all his critics better. Hardly anyone did prepare as painstakingly for the great aim as he did and of all things an offer from France restored his cracked self-esteem. Directly before the take-off to Mexico Olympique Marseille made Förster a 'dream offer', remedy for his ill-treated soul. In Mexico Karlheinz Förster again became the scare of the opposing strikers and came up trumps like in the old days. Nobody surpassed him in terms of physical duels during the World Cup, in terms of relentlessness and team discipline. The 'kicker' too voted him in the 'All-Star Tea' of the '86 World Cup and of course he has regained his position as our no. 1 defender as well as re-entering the 'world class' category. Still, Förster wants to resign his duties in the national team after his move to France. Franz Beckenbauer would be well-advised to fight for this world class defender, who would not even be 30 years old in 1988 for the Euros!

    Lothar Matthäus [Offensive Midfielder]

    He is among the winners of the World Cup, his strong performances in Mexico are the reason why we categorized him as 'world class': Lothar Matthäus. The harsh critique that was unleashed on him after his fatal bad pass in the game against Uruguay didn't harm his confidence. By showing an admirable morale, irrepressible will and his great fighting spirit, Matthäus managed to cancel out that blunder. Against Morocco he delivered the German team with his 'golden goal' shortly before the 90th minute, in the final he almost left no room for the ingenious Maradona to unfold. And that despite a broken hand! Lothar Matthäus like we have known him for years: strongwilled, great acceleration, hard-running and competitive. A man who does not think himself above defensive work and at the same time finds enough time to dedicate to the offense. Additionally he is also a goal-threat: ten goals scored in the last Bundesliga season prove it.

    Also because of his offensive prowess did we categorize the 25-year old in the category of 'offensive midfielders'. We could've just as well classified him as a defensive midfielder. Another thing that speaks for him. Lothar Matthäus - a player that finally managed the international breakthrough in Mexico. A pillar in the team that has to be built by Franz Beckenbauer for the future. A trump card for Franz Beckenbauer.

    Soren Lerby [Foreign Player]

    Two players in the category 'world class', this should actually be reason to point with pride to the strength of the Bundesliga. If, yes if it wasn't the category of 'foreign players'! While these players can enhance the prestige of the Bundesliga they cannot enhance the prestige of German football as a whole. And if, yes if our no. 1 wouldn't say goodbye after this season! Sören Lerby will have to prove his calibre next season under the critical observation of our French colleagues. The chapter 'Bundesliga' is over for him. The last chapter in his three year stay in the Bundesliga certainly ranks among Lerby's finest and most beautiful moments as a footballer. The blond midfield conductor was a significant influence in the high-flying of his team Bayern in the last weeks of the Bundesliga. Always when things weren't going well it was Lerby that would pull up the sleeves to sound the attack. Not least thanks to him Bayern could celebrated winning the precious 'double'. Lerby did expect a little bit more to achieve during the World Cup though, where he did not play as good as usual. But the good overall picture could not be marred by his Mexico performances. Compared to our ranking of December last year he climbed from no. 3 to no. 1.

    Jean-Marie Pfaff [Foreign Player]

    Closely following Lerby is his teammate Jean-Marie Pfaff, who climbed two places from international class to world class. For Pfaff similar attributes can be observed as for Lerby. Always dedicated, always ready to give his all. In the first half of the season he was set back by injuries, he even lost his starting place for Bayern and had to dread being left out from the Belgium squad going to Mexico. But with his iron-will, he worked on his comeback and convinced all his premature critics. In contrast to Lerby, Pfaff had reasons to celebrate a triumphant World Cup, for who would have predicted Belgium to advance to the semi finals? Pfaff has been instrumental in the triumph of his national team and of his club.
     
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  9. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Munich
    December 1988

    World Class


    Rune Bratseth [Libero]

    Bremen made up for the loss of Gunnar Sauer brilliantly with Rune Bratseth taking over that role after Sauer's initial replacement Michael Kutzop was also injured. The Norwegian, who is already in a class of his own as marker, showcased impressively that he also knows how to interpet the role of libero in a brilliant way. The 1,93 meters tall defender, who Otto Rehhagel bought two years ago for 300,000 Marks from the Norwegian champion Rosenborg Trondheim, convinces with his versatility. In defense, he is almost insurmountable due to his pace, heading prowess and overview and as a libero, he also makes use of his freedom to roam forward stupendously. Bratseth's constantly above average performances, especially in the European Cup, tipped the balance to rate him as 'world class'. The brave 'Viking' would certainly play an outstanding role in any other European league, too. It also speaks for the deeply religious Bratseth that he does not intend to move southwards ("I feel well in Bremen, money is not everything").

    Jürgen Kohler [Defender]

    18 months ago the Bundesliga bosses laughed at the Köln management for paying 2 million Marks for Jürgen Kohler, a defender. Today it is certain: Jürgen Kohler, the 23-year old defender from Lambsheim, is the undisputed number one defender, which today are mostly called man-markers. Today it is Kohler who is laughing the most, because in our new Rangliste, Kohler has moved one step up into the highest category of 'world class'. By now everyone has recognized what a man of Kohler's class is made of, not only in Köln.

    No forward in the Bundesliga could get past him and also in the European Cup and in the national team Kohler was an insurmountable obstacle for the opponent. Jürgen Kohler, a man beyond reproach. "Kohler remains the King" was our headline in the summer Rangliste. That summer, his opponent Marco van Basten was ahead of him in decisive moments in the Euro semi final against the Netherlands, which spoiled his ascent to the highest category. After this season Köln will be left without its best defender, since it is almost 99.9 % safe that Kohler will transfer to Bayern München next summer. Even the expected transfer fee of over 3 million Marks will be of no solace for Köln, because today one knows how valuable a player like Kohler really is.

    Thomas Hässler [Offensive Midfielder]

    The last players we ranked as 'world class' in the category of offensive midfielders were Paul Breitner and Felix Magath, which was five years ago [note: this is false as the last player was actually Lothar Matthäus in the summer of 1986]. At that time, the two were at the peak of their powers. Currently we see something developing in the Bundesliga which reminds us of the beginnings of the Beckenbauer/Netzer/Overath era. The young guns have taken over the scepter. This is as baffling as it is encouraging. None of the other six positional categories is as strong as the offensive midfielders, both in terms of quantity and quality. Once 'world class', six times 'international class', five times 'broad circle' and fourteen times players were considered. The midfield pivot is the best piece! .... Without any doubt is the highest position reserved for the Berliner in Köln, Thomas Hässler. Last summer only Lothar Matthäus was ranked ahead of him, who is now playing for Inter in Italy. Already that summer Hässler was ahead of his many other competitors like Olaf Thon, Hans Dorfner or Pierre Littbarski. Thus already last season he had managed the breakthrough. This last half year he thoroughly confirmed his class. Praise from all sides: be it managers, pundits, teammates and players - the chap is being carried by a broad foundation of approval and trust. He is an artist and fighter at the same, he can pull off anything and he knows how to enforce it. And he is also not someone who needs 'workers' around him.

    Jürgen Klinsmann [Forward]

    It reads like an anachronism: all of football Germany moans about the lack of goals and attacking spirit yet we rank a forward as 'world class'! Paradoxical? No, maybe at first sight. After a long and thorough discussion we decided that Klinsmann had to be ranked as 'world class'. The reasons are manifold, "Klinsi" made the most of a position which is arguably the hardest to play in. He regularly scored and assisted goals. Additionally he decided games on the international stage, like recently in the UEFA Cup against Zagreb and Groningen. He is being hunted by all great clubs in Europe, he distinguishes himself with his consistency, endurance and commitment. All this were reasons to rank him as 'world class'.


    July 1989

    World Class


    Jürgen Kohler [Defender]

    Do you know the difference between Jürgen Kohler and Guido Buchwald? Hardly a question that would divide the many football fans. But after the fateful 87th minute of our national team's game in Rotterdam against the Netherlands many fans arguably commented suspectfully: "this wouldn't have happened with Kohler on the pitch."

    It was the equalizer by Marco van Basten. Ronald Koeman, Holland's enormously hard-shooting libero had aimed at the German goal from 18 meters. Hard, but not precise. Van Basten was standing at the right spot, touched the ball quick-wittedly, technically perfect and decflected it decisively. Buchwald the onlooker, Illgner unable to parry. And millions of fans in front of the tv set bickered about the fate that Kohler had to leave the pitch in the middle of the second half. And indeed the ex-Köln player almost gave van Basten no room to breathe while he was on the pitch. Whereas Buchwald, who took over Kohler's task, did no go on about his task in that fateful minute in a comparably aggressive manner. Of course that one weak moment is not the be-all and end-all regarding Buchwald's performance.

    Particularly since we will never know whether we would have managed to keep that 1-0 scoreline with Kohler on the pitch until the final whistle.

    Nevertheless our staff ties itself down that especially the Holland game showed that there is a difference between our two best 'man markers'. Kohler neutralized the arguably greatest forward in the world, Buchwald didn't. 'World class' - Jürgen Kohler is the only player we ranked this high. For the second time in a row. Buchwald stayed where we already ranked him last December: 'international class'. Buchwald was not able to topple Kohler from his throne.

    Still, the 23-year old discovery of Klaus Schlappner will look back at the last half year with mixed feelings. Only ten days after his injury in Rotterdam Kohler was already playing again - too early. Substituted after 17 minutes in Bremen. Afterwards he worked on his comeback feverishly. On May 25th he wanted to climb the pinnacle of the Bundesliga when Köln faced Bayern München in a showdown. When it looked as if he didn't manage to become fit again in time, Kohler, the incarnation of performing his duty, was suddenly posed dubious questions whether he didn't want to face his future employer in such a crucial game. For the model professional who was only used to positive headlines, this was like a brutal knock-out directly to the nose. Of course Kohler did not wimp out of that game. Merciless towards his own health, he faced the challenged and played against Bayern - again too early, lost. But at least he had managed to wipe out the negative assumptions of the tabloids. The tabloids thankfully did not doubt that Kohler in normal form does not allow any forward to pass him. If the 'man of world class' (Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes) has any weaknesses at all, then it is his offensive game. But: destroying and working magic - which player is capable of that anyway?
     
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  10. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
  11. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Munich
    Yes but it was at the very end of that thread and I didn't want to reactivate it for the new commentary of the 1960s (which was not part of that thread).
     
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  12. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    OK. It was fresh in the memory because I checked the claim I saw in a book about Netzer being retrospectively rated 'world class' for the whole 1970 year (as soon as he got to play internationally with club & country).
     
  13. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Munich
    #13 Gregoriak, Jun 23, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017
    July 1990

    World Class

    Guido Buchwald [Defensive Midfielder]

    The man who walks as if he had an artificial hip not only convinced Beckenbauer, his opponents and the fans in the stands - he also convinced the Kicker staff, who put him at no. 1 in this category, decorated with the label 'world class'. In this respect one Diego Maradona does not have to grieve that much, because "the divine" made not mark against Guido - now nicknamed "Diegito".

    Buchwald on the throne - ahead of Andreas Brehme and Lothar Matthäus - who would have thought? But only nuances separate these three players. After all the grade 'world class' speaks for itself. How valuable the often misjudged Buchwald has become for his club Stuttgart by now shows the fact that managing director Dieter Hoeness taxes Buchwald's transfer value at 10 million DM. Before the World Cup in Italy experts would have called Stuttgart crazy to demand such a fee for Buchwald. AC Parma is interested in securing the services of Buchwald, but if they will pay that fee is uncertain.

    That a defensive midfielder sees such a rise in value is almost a sensation, for normally they work in the shadow of the playmaker. Still, ever more often it is exactly these kind of players that decide a game. What would the German national team be today if they had no Buchwald, Brehme and Matthäus?

    Andreas Brehme [Defensive Midfielder]

    Essentially it is the allround players that can apply their strengths most versatiley. What once was a Manfred Kaltz today is Andreas Brehme. Although Brehme forces the play on the left side, but the parallels can hardly be overlooked - with both also being safe penalty takers. What separates Brehme from a player like Kaltz is his ability to assert his class also in man-to-man battle, mastering the defensive part of the game. That role is tailor-made for him and he also plays that part excellently for Inter. Reason enough to label him 'world class'.

    Lothar Matthäus [Defensive Midfielder]

    Similar is Lothar Matthäus who does not consider himself too good to work around his own penalty box. One could say that his job starts in the defense before he displays his dynamism, steamrolling the enemy with his great acceleration, before that enemy even recognizes Matthäus' offensive intention. Not only to his manager Trapattoni is he a player of 'world class', also to the Kicker staff.

    What the Pundit says - Hans-Peter Briegel

    The World Cup victory was towering over all other things thus I agree with Kicker's assessment. I also agree to rate Buchwald as no. 1 player in this category because he was the player of the 'world class' trio whose performances were most consistent in all seven games. Andreas Brehme had two average performances and Matthäus began the tournament very strong but then started to fade. Buchwald has deserved the crown, there is no doubt about that to me.

    Jürgen Kohler [Defender]

    On May 12 he celebrated the German championship with Bayern München, for the first time in his career. The highest domestic title a player can reach. On July 8 he became World Champion for the first time in his career. The highest title any player can achieve. Today, July 23, we bestow upon him the grade of "world class". The highest decoration that a player can achieve in our ranking. And what does Jürgen Kohler himself say? "I still have to learn a lot". He is serious about that. Jokingly he adds: "normally I would have to finish my career right now. Because I can't achieve anything anymore." But possibly there's still more to achieve. Kohler does not have to think too long to name his next aim: "Now I want to win the European Cup". The final against Argentina was only two weeks ago. "The final whistle was the greatest moment in my hitherto football life". What happened afterwards he still has not really grasped. "It will surely take a while before we can grasp what we have achieved." It is all like a beautiful dream. It is like floating, like trance. Everywhere handshakes, slaps on the back and compliments. "Now everyone knows me" Kohler says. In the past, people were whispering "isn't that Kohler" when he was taking a walk, today total strangers greet him openly. .

    ..... twice Kohler faced a problematic phase during last season, once he ruptured his ligament and then while training for the national team weeks before the World Cup he suffered a rupture of a muscle fiber. "I was shattered" the iron-hard fighter admits. But he never thought about giving up. ..... after his injury he trained like he was obsessed and it paid off. Jürgen Kohler - one man, one will, one way to the World Cup trophy, to 'world class'. The new national team coach Berti Vogts worked hard with Kohler. Took care of his physical regeneration. His wife Esther took care of his emotional balance. "She helped me a lot in those desperate times" Kohler states. "I could talk with her about other things than football".

    And then came the day which he had targetted: the second round game against the Netherlands. "Unlucky fellow" Kohler talks of luck that of all teams he had to face the Netherlands. The Netherlands, that is first of all Gullit and van Basten. And where van Basten is, Kohler is not far. That same thought must have been Beckenbauer's as he pitted Kohler against van Basten. A duel with tradition, an evergreen. The chorus ever more often being "Kohler is the victor".

    Kohler eliminated the Dutch wonder forward and afterwards the CSFR goalgetter Tomas Skuhravy (having scored 5 goals hitherto), then finally Gary Lineker and in the final game the Argentine Dezotti. Kohler has no special memory of any of these top forwards. "I don't fear any forward in the world", "I am again full of energy and lively like back in Köln. That's why I can afford to be self-confident again." But still, he says, there are things that he could do better. "Both in offense and defense. I must get more calm and steady". This says Jürgen Kohler, who is esteemed as the country's best man-marker which is not the least reason why Kicker rates him 'world class'.

    What the Pundit says - Karlheinz Förster

    I agree with the ranking that Kicker has compiled. Jürgen Kohler is Germany's no. 1 man-marker. But the label of 'world class' to me seems one level too high. To be world class one must show outstanding performances over 6 months and then the same in the World Cup. Jürgen Kohler met that standard in the World Cup - when he played. But not for Bayern München - mostly because of his injuries. But the World Cup tournament and the World Cup trophy catapulted players into a higher level. If Germany had been eliminated in the semi final against England all would have looked different.

    Rudi Völler [Forward]

    'Rudi 90' is the best and simultaneously most successful Völler that ever was. 14 goals in Serie A for Roma in 1989-90 is the best that the tricky, sly, quick, always toiling, never-say-die forward has reaped since he transferred to Italy three years ago. And the moment when he lifted the FIFA World Cup trophy into the night of "his" city Rome will forever be the most successful one in his career. Also because Völler had to wait patiently for 12 hard professional years, now being 30, for that greatest moment, finally beating the trauma of being a goalgetter without trophies. "Once World champion, always World champion - those who won the World Cup in 1954 are still known by everyone today". Rudi Völler feels compensation for his struggle to win trophies for so many years. Before his dream came true he once again had to feel heaven and hell. His drop in performance level during the World Cup, mostly caused by the controversial sent-off against the Netherlands made the Kicker staff lead some debates whether "world class" was the fitting attribute for Völler in our ranking.

    "World class" was his entrance into the tournament with three goals in the first two games. Rudi's performance dropped once Rijkaard kicked and spat and the resulting red card and his pause against CSFR. "Those days were terrible to me. But in hindsight the World Cup trophy consoles me more than enough". Typical for Völler's class and engagement: he got over the early injury in the semi final against England and the missed chances in the final vs. Agentina. He fought and struggled untiringly. Not by chance was it Völler who fought out the all-deciding penalty in the duel against Sensini. With his exemplary attitude and performance on the pitch, his still "normal" way of dealing with friends, fans and opponents and with his promise to play on for Germany at least until Euro 1992 Völler justifiably deserved the label "world class".

    What the Pundit says - Bernd Hölzenbein

    To categorize Rudi Völler as "world class" is absolutely correct. He not only proved this during the World Cup impressively but also over the course of the season. When Völler is being celebrated with chants of "Rudi Rudi" in Italian stadia this does not only show his popularity but the respect for his performances. He can decide games all by himself, can move something in attack, has a nose for goals, his aerial game is strong, sometimes too egoistic but that's what all goalgetters must be to some extent. Who fulfills all these criteria can be world class as a forward.
     
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  14. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Munich
    December 1990

    Introduction

    World Class

    Assessing the performances of our foreign-based players is even harder than assessing the Bundesliga players. Therefore in the past "Kicker" only in exceptional cases assessed players not playing in Germany: after World Cups or European championships we also assessed those German players that were under contract abroad. The circumstances however have changed by now. The World and most of all Europe is getting ever closer in the age of total communication. Hence Germans abroad can now be observed by our reporters almost as intensely as their Bundesliga colleagues. We want to account for this by publishing for the first time a ranking of our "legionaries".

    What makes this undertaking harder than our other categories is the different level of performance in different leagues. .... hence ahead of this ranking we have to assess the strength of the leagues. The absolute number one is currently Italy. Following in the same level are the Bundesliga, England and Spain, then followed by Belgium, France and Scotland. In the fourth level finally Austria, Switzerland and Turkey. ..... after the performances of the last 6 months no Bundesliga player could be classified as 'world class'.

    By contrast, three players engaged in Italy have reached that level: Lothar Matthäus, Thomas Hässler and Rudi Völler. This triumphant trio leads those seven German world champions that now earn their money in the "dorado" of international football. Lothar Matthäus has won almost everything in 1990 and he continued his fancy flight after the World Cup. The same is true for Rudi Völler who is the darling of the Roman tifosi and has established himself as one of the best and deadliest strikers in the world's best league. Despite all cries of the naysayers Italy-newcomer Thomas Hässler has managed the breakthrough to the top for Juventus after some difficulties in the beginning. The critics in Italy attest that there's no better player in the right midfield at the moment. Andreas Brehme however was not able to keep his level after the World Cup. Additionally, an injury set him back in November.
     
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  15. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Munich
    July 1991

    ..... six months ago we labelled three foreign-based players as 'world class' but one of them could not keep that standard. It's Thomas Hässler. The Juventus crisis pulled him down, he lost the lightness of his style and now attempts a new start at Roma. Lothar Matthäus and Rudi Völler however cemented their status as 'world class' players. Matthäus now is even considered as the mega star of world football. What a fantastic rise for the man who started out as a franconian rascal and who in his years at Bayern faced severe criticism of being very small in crucial games. The captain of the world champions offered many highlights the past six months. Two especially remarkable ones: Matthäus led Inter to the UEFA Cup trophy, the first international silverware of the famous club in 20 years. As midfielder he was a stern competitor to the most famous goalgetters in world football and finished as the second best goalscorer this season. Further proof of his dynamism, self-assertion and efficiency - a blend that makes Matthäus so very valuable. Despite the praise we must not conceal that his performances for the national team in the last few months did not meet this high standard.

    Rudi Völler is becoming more and more the evergreen among international top goalgetters. Meanwhile he's 31 - an age where usually one withdraws more and more to those regions where the battle is less hostile. Yet Völler still battles with the most adamant defenders and still he is outwitting many of them. Völler too had his best moments in the UEFA cup this last half-year. He scored ten goals in this competition at the end however Roma lost to Inter in the UEFA cup finals. Roma did win the Italian Cup though - this being Völler's very first trophy with a club team.
     
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  16. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Munich
    #16 Gregoriak, Jun 28, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017
    December 1991

    Karlheinz Riedle [German abroad - Forward]

    ... so far none of our Italy-based players has managed to become top scorer in Serie A. But now there's one about to do just that. It's a striker that didn't manage that trick in Germany, which is remarkable because it is known that scoring goals in Italy is harder than in the Bundesliga. That man is Karlheinz Riedle, goalgetter of Lazio who managed a giant leap into the exclusive level 'world class' during the last 6 months. The Italian sports writers have declared Riedle "Lord of the clouds". Luis Suarez Miramontes, former world class player and until recently Spanish national team coach uttered his respect by saying: "I think Riedle is currently the best header of the ball. At least I do not know a better one".

    Berti Vogts also used superlatives to appreciate the rise of Kalle Riedle: "To me he is the man of the year. How he pressured himself last summer and then managed his breakthrough due to his own presssure has impressed me a lot." In a Kicker interview the 26-year-old Lazio striker had stated: "I am fed up of being a bench warmer in the national team. I have asked Vogts to give me a chance to play several games from start and he promised me to do so. If I fail to secure a regular starting place then I will quit the national team and concentrate fully on Lazio."

    The key moment for Riedle was the 1-0 win at Wembley against England where he scored the game winner with one of his inimitable headers: "From then on I was sure that I will make it." In the most expensive, most thrilling and best league in the world Riedle proves week after week that heading prowess does not depend on size but all the more on timing and guts. "The lord of the clouds" however is firmly planted on the ground despite all the hymns in his favor: "I need crosses, crosses and crosses to be succesful. Now I finally am feeded with crosses, especially because of my friend Thomas Doll."

    Thomas Doll [German abroad - Midfielder]


    Riedle's world class indeed is inextricably linked to the name Thomas Doll. Not only did he benefit from Doll's assists. It might also not be a coincidence that Andreas Thom became top scorer alongside Thomas Doll when playing for Dynamo Berlin in East Germany but failed to do the same when playing for Leverkusen without Doll's companionship. Or take Jan Furtok, he too became a top goalgetter playing alongside Doll but since Doll left Hamburg Furtok is mediocre again.

    Actually Doll was only no. 5 of the East German players that joined West German clubs, after Thom, Sammer, Steinmann and Kirsten. But already in Hamburg Doll emerged as a great success. Lazio's offer was like winning the lottery for Doll. With the combat power of a northerner and the lightness of a southerner he now delights the Tifosi. In the national team, Doll today is the only former East German player with a starting place (as withdrawn striker).

    Jürgen Kohler [German abroad - Man-marker]


    Karlheinz Riedle and Thomas Doll both for the first time appear in the category of 'world class'. Unlike Jürgen Kohler, our third 'world class' player in this ranking. He's long established as one of the finest man-markers yet the downfall of Bayern also impaired his nimbus.

    All the more astonishing that Juventus signed him for a very high sum this summer. Yet in the league of defensive artists, "destroyer" Kohler felt comfortable right from the start. At the end of the first half of the season Kohler even managed the best grade of all players on average. Yet the Juventus stopper did not only impress with his defensive qualities but also with unknown offensive virtues. Two goals scored in the championship was even more than what Völler and Klinsmann managed. For Rudi Völler only in January his 8 months long goalless streak ended, naturally he had to be relegated from 'world class' despite still playing convincingly for the national team.

    Lothar Matthäus also had to be relegated to 'international class'. This downgrading might be the most surprising to many readers. After all he was once again voted "world footballer" and finished second in the "Ballon d'Or". These polls however looked at the complete year 1991 while our ranking only covers the second half of the year. Playing for Inter, we had to concede a noticeable decline in his performances in that period.

    What the Pundit says - Franz Beckenbauer

    I think it is right to classify Kohler, Doll and Riedle as 'world class'. I am not surprised that Kohler has done so well in Italy. At Juve he again plays what he is best at - marking an opponent directly. Before he joined Bayern he already was the world's best stopper. The time in Munich, where he had to play zonally, unsettled him. The outstanding classification of Doll and Riedle is also justified in my opinion. Both achieved the biggest step forward during the last 6 months and progressed superbly together at Lazio.

    Where I differ from Kicker's opinion is regarding Rudi Völler and Lothar Matthäus. Both of them to me are still 'world class'. For example I still place Völler ahead of Riedle. Granted, Völler failed to score a single goal for Roma in 6 months. But one has to know that he is the sole striker in his team Roma and usually has to battle three defenders. Still he assisted many goals and also in the national team proved his undiminished dangerousness.

    Matthäus, too, is still a man of world class. His misfortune is simply that he's playing for a team (Inter) where everything has turned upside down. Even a man like Matthäus cannot change that on his own.
     
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  17. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Munich
    #17 Gregoriak, Jun 28, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017
    July 1992

    Thomas Hässler [Offensive Midfielder]

    He made the headlines during the Euro in Sweden: Thomas Hässler, the little man of Roma, showed outstanding performances. He is the only German who we label as 'world class' in our current ranking. Thomas Hässler 1992 - that is a football world star with precise conceptions, clear shapes and distinct reasoning. One who does not allow anyone to push him around, like two years ago at Juventus. One who holds his own ground on and off the pitch: "Today I play the role that suits me best" he says with an eye towards Juventus where he was dumped. Luckily, as he knows today. To mature he needed what he found at Roma: "the absolute affection of the fans, the total backing has contributed a lot to my performances". 'World class' among offensive midfielders, the last time Hässler achieved this was in 1989. Back then his outstanding performances for Köln on the right wing were honored by Kicker. Today the same classification has more value. He plays centrally in the best sense of the word: where Hässler is, the center of the game lies. This can be at the back, at the front, left or right.

    "I benefit from my industriousness" says Hässler, who as pupil once was second best over 5000 meters running among Berlin pupils. An industriousness which is the foundation of his style of play: "I couldn't just stand at the center circle, spreading balls from there. I must constantly roam around the pitch". That he makes so few mistakes while roaming the pitch completes his recipe for success. Nobody can trap the ball at the highest pace like he does, nobody anticipates a play like he can. Forgotten is the lean period he had while playing for Juventus which was solely caused by a lack of fitness: "I must be completely healthy to reach my highest level. I wasn't back then" says Hässler who only got back on track after a knee surgery. He does not want to forget that time: "I learned a lot during those days".

    Mostly that it's best to rely on yourself and your loved ones. False friends have no chance with "Icke" anymore. .... Hässler wants to take responsibility for his family and on the pitch. Hässler has since long become a character. Best player of the European championship, world class in offensive midfield, perhaps soon "Footballer of the Year" in Germany and Europe? "I couldn't believe that" he states spontaneously. Perhaps he should get used to it. Players like him have become a rarity, players that simply enjoy being on the pitch and who do not care for stardom, who lack any airs and graces. Thomas Hässler 1992 - a footballer that is ranked far above all others.

    What the Pundit says - Hansi Müller

    Thomas Hässler world class - there's no doubt about that. Irrespective of the European championship, where he was the player of the tournament, is he exactly the type of player that lures people into the stadia. When "Icke" starts one of his solos people start clicking their tongues. Players like him have become a rarity. I rank Hässler in the form of the Euros clearly ahead of Laudrup, Doll, Littbarski, Sternkopf, Scholl and Bein, all of them spectator magnets by themselves in one way or another. By contrast Sammer, Effenberg and also Michael Rummenigge are players that are less flashy but still very effective. In my mind Stefan Effenberg is overrated, not least because he still has not won a single trophy. .....

    Stéphane Chapuisat [Forward]

    Everyone celebrates him. His teammates, the fans, the city of Dortmund is at his feet. The Swissman thrills the Bundesliga. As clinical finisher and selfless assister. A specialist for quick goals. A footballer of grade A. Despite all the hymns: "Chappi" has stayed grounded on the floor. .... he has gotten used to all the hymns in the meantime but still one has the impression that he is feeling unwell when he gets praised. .... he is not only the best forward in the Bundesliga but also the best-loved player by the fans. He managed to push forward into the category of "world class" with his goals, his dribblings, his tricks, his assists, his showpieces. Chapuisat, the 23 year old, soared to being the Bundesliga's top star during last season. Already in our winter ranking we labelled the man who so easily sidesteps his opponents as 'international class'. After Chapuisat managed to keep his level, even bettering it at times, there was no other option for our staff than to rank him as 'world class'. The Ex-Uerdingen player asserted himself in every area. He has become untouchable due to his supreme performances but he also gained the appreciation of his teammates who at first were not too favourable of him. He was eyed sceptically at the start but he managed to impress everyone - with his qualities as a footballer but also with his pleasant and sociable ways.

    "The team has to thank him" says captain Michael Zorc. "Without him we would not have played a role in the championship." .... visibly impressed by the way Chapuisat beat young international Christian Wörns in the 3-1 victory against Leverkusen. "Without him", Michael Rummenigge says, "we probably would have gained 10 points less". One can't say any clearer than these two players how important Chapuisat is for Dortmund. And the forward was especially important because of the many crucial goals he scored. 25 times Dortmund scored the lead, 11 times it was Chapuisat who scored it. "Mister 1-0" - a fitting nickname for the young and still increasable Dortmund player. He scored 20 times altogether - only two goals short of winning the top scorer trophy. That top scorer crown however was irrelevant to him. Far more important was the success of the team. By assisting 10 goals he contributed like no one else also in that field. Without question Dortmund will try to keep the Bundesliga's outstanding player. ......

    What the Pundit says - Gerd Müller

    No question, Stéphane Chapuisat is a very good man. But I think it is wrong to rank him so far ahead of all other forwards in the ranking. One must consider that Dortmund's play is tailor-made for Chapuisat and that Dortmund on the whole played convincingly. To me, Fritz Walter and Anthony Yeboah are in no way inferior to him. To the contrary: I would say that Fritz Walter is even a little bit stronger. He will score his goals also next season while we have to wait how well Chapuisat's and Yeboah's teams will do before we can say the same for them.
     
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  18. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Munich
    #18 Gregoriak, Jun 29, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2017
    December 1992

    Andreas Köpke [Goalkeeper]

    He is the backbone of Nürnberg and his hour came in the national team after the European championship: Andy Köpke is in 'world class' form! .... we graded Nürnberg's Andreas Köpke and Frankfurt's Uli Stein as 'world class' - in this order. Surely our readers will continue to debate the goalkeeper situation, the placement of Bodo Illgner will be debated. In summer he was already only ranked at no. 4 (behind Immel, Stein and Köpke) but was still 'international class'. In the bygone half-year the Köln keeper had some bad luck because the Köln defense lost two important players in Giske and Götz. The Köln defense was porous like Swiss cheese. Consequence: An unsettled Bodo Illgner, both domestic and internationally. ..... as a consequence Berti Vogts granted Andy Köpke the opportunity to start in three games in a row. Until the game against Brazil Illgner was out of the team, certainly no recommendation for our ranking! Nürnberg goalie Köpke reached the summit in our goalkeeper ranking for the third time. He, who never was called up to play in any DFB youth team, is a model of consistency. "I actually do not remember having made a grave mistake during the last 2, 3 years" Köpke himself says about his consistency. ....

    Uli Stein [Goalkeeper]

    Along Köpke goalkeeper oldie Uli Stein is graded as 'world class' by Kicker. His experience is priceless, he guesses which way a ball will come towards his goal. In the past Stein often stood in his own way due to his inconsiderate statements and tantrums. Meanwhile at the age of 38 (!) he still does not shy away from confrontations yet he can channel his anger so that his performances benefit from it.

    What the Pundit says - Harald Schumacher

    I am a little surprised to see that Kicker graded Köpke and Stein as 'world class'. In my days or the days of Sepp Maier Kicker was not so generous with that label. I'm not saying though that these two didn't deserve it. Andy Köpke is currently set off on a run and Uli Stein doubtlessly also belongs to this category. Both have the necessary diligence, fanatism and ability that is needed to get to the very top. However I always thought that a man of world class would have to prove himself in the world, in international tournaments.

    Rune Bratseth [Libero]

    The Libero position, a problem of German football ever since Beckenbauer retired from the national team. To us, the best libero right now plays in Bremen, is Norwegian and his name is Rune Bratseth. He played captivatingly for Norway which is still unbeaten in the World Cup qualifiers. .... Bratseth is a man of class who some already have eulogized as an extraterrestial being due to his abilities and his virtues. .... Rune Bratseth remains an exceptional phenomenon. He sets himself apart from the staid mediocrity of his colleagues. In every way. Especially when one focuses on his performances on the pitch. 'World class' for the second time since winter 1988. The patient one feels honoured: "A great honour to me" said Bratseth when he heard the news. "Thoroughly justified" said Bremen's managing director Willi Lemke. And coach Otto Rehhagel certainly won't raise any objections, too, after all he's never tired in decorating Bratseth with superlatives: Bratseth is the cleverest, the fairest, the fastest defender in the world, said Rehhagel.

    Rehhagel may sometimes be inclined to wax lyrically but in this case his praise is realistic. Rune Bratseth is a first class chief of defense who combines all virtues that this position demands: swiftness and positional play, vision and offensive prowess, technique and elegance, cleverness and routine. What distinguishes him the most however is that he's a personality. A general in the positive sense, a leader who oozes authority and charme at the same time.

    What the Pundit says - Franz Beckenbauer

    Rune Bratseth is a man of absolute class, he is proving this year after year for Werder Bremen and recently also for Norway. That Norway is leading a strong group that contains England and Poland with 7 points can be greatly credited to Bratseth. Nevertheless him being labelled 'world class' surprises me a little bit. Albeit the difference between international class and world class is not that great anymore.

    Stéphane Chapuisat [Forward]

    .... today Chapuisat is one of the big crowd drawers of the Bundesliga, today he is the best forward in our elite league - a man of world class. .... within 24 months after being signed by Felix Magath for Uerdingen Chapuisat managed to rise to the very top. After Dortmund got rid of its internal problems Chapuisat blossomed. He played a great part in Dortmund playing for the championship last season, scoring 20 goals along the way. Slight problems regarding his form at the start of this season have now been forgotten. He scored 9 goals in the first half of the season, he regained his marksmanship and power. Even more outstanding are his performances on the international stage. "He is a forward that can come out on top also in the European cup" his coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said 18 months ago when he signed Chapuisat from Uerdingen. A wise assertion, almost a prophetic one for Chapuisat really set himself apart on the international stage becoming a real big number there. He scored four vital goals that kept Dortmund in the UEFA Cup against Celtic and Zaragoza. Chapuisat has specialized scoring exactly when it is most necessary to score. .... Chapuisat is head and shoulders above the rest.

    What the Pundit says - Horst Hrubesch

    There's no question regarding the forwards who should be ranked at no. 1. Stéphane Chapuisat and Anthony Yeboah. The order is correct and Chapuisat deserves being labelled 'world class'. Currently the Dortmund player is the best striker. He also proved this impressively in the UEFA Cup.
     
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  19. poetgooner

    poetgooner Member+

    Arsenal
    Nov 20, 2014
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Hahahaha, its as if he could see into the future!
     
  20. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Munich
    #20 Gregoriak, Jun 30, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2017
    July 1993

    Andreas Köpke [Goalkeeper]

    Although the high-flying Andreas Köpke was dampened a little in recent weeks he proved to be impressively strong over the course of the past half-year. His calm, his reflexes, his reactions kept worn-out Nürnberg from crashing into the second division. "I don't know how many points he saved us but it must be plenty" his teammate Hans Dorfner admitted. Hamburg skipper Frank Rohde estimated more exactly: "Köpke saved Nürnberg 8 points". A speculation that is not verifiable. Anyway in Nürnberg they know what they have in Köpke. In March the goalkeeper of the national team signed a new 3-year-contract. His coach Willi Entenmann exhaled: "The thought alone of losing Köpke would have been abject." What daredevil Köpke can do he showed on March 24 in the away game against Scotland in Glasgow: "Köpke battened down the hatches" was the headline of Kicker's game report. His saves drove the Scots Ferguson, Robertson, Bowman etc. almost insane. With an outstanding performance, Köpke made sure that Riedle's goal was the game decider. This performance of Köpke was in the truest sense of the word "world class". But we must also address the dampers. For one the superfluous red card in the game in Wattenscheid and then the only unsatisfactory performance during the last 6 months, when he failed to save Dooley's header from 15 meters in the US-Cup in the game against the United States (4-3). Dampers for a man who intermediately had become the undisputed no. 1 goalkeeper of the national team. But now he has to step on the gas again to keep his competition off his back.

    What the Pundit says - Dieter Burdenski

    Attitude and character are fine and also his performances: Andi Köpke is justifiably listed at no. 1 in this ranking. The Nürnberger player is not that much better than in the years before but he is more and more entering the limelight because Bodo Illgner is going through a baisse. What I dislike however is the label "world class". That is a giant word. I believe only goalkeepers like Sepp Maier or Toni Schumacher in their respective primes had to be labelled 'world class'. Köpke was superb but just half a year no. 1 in the national team does not suffice.

    Rune Bratseth [Libero]

    Success with Norway's national team, the German championship with Werder Bremen - Rune Bratseth is riding the crest of a wave. The seasoned libero is the only outfield player that we labelled 'world class' in our ranking. .......the success of Norway in the World Cup qualifiers is downright sensational. In addition to that the German championship with Werder - small wonder that Bratseth's popularity in Norway has reached new heights. It was his success with Norway which proved to be decisive in categorizing Bratseth as 'world class' this time. .... That a libero like Bratseth with such a high performance level is still playing in the Bundesliga made him a downright attaction in light of the many offers from abroad. Bratseth's strongpoints are undisputed. His conduct in man-to-man duels is extra class just as his aerial game as well as his quickness (4.7 seconds for the first 40 meters). His technique is appealing despite his way of walking sometimes reminding one of a galloping moose. But ultimately it is not elegance but efficiency that is demanded on the pitch.

    It is his enormous understanding of the game that ultimately distinguishes him as a libero of world class. Bratseth is capable of reading a game like a conductor. This is also known by Egil Olsen, the Norwegian head coach, who - as a Norwegian - probably does not even know the word "libero" since Norway operates with a flat back four - traditionally with two center backs. Yet Bratseth calls the shots similar to Franco Baresi for AC Milan. For example when the pressing does not work as planned. "Then we immediately draw back to minimize the space for long passes", says Rune. Bratseth realizes dangerous developments in no time and functions as the instigator of a very mobile, flat defensive chain. This is the nucleus of the Norwegian success. Naturally in compiling our ranking we did not only focus on international performances. His performances in the Bundesliga were habitually commanding. Not without reason the Bremen defense conceded the least number of goals this season. .....

    What the Pundit says - Franz Beckenbauer

    Rune Bratseth world class? The Norwegian has earned this label since he has not lost any of his strengths and also won the German championship with Bremen and is shortly before leading Norway to the World Cup. While the decision of Kicker in this ranking in general is quite generous the decision regarding Bratseth is still correct.

    Jürgen Klinsmann [German abroad - Forward]

    When he transferred from Inter to Monaco last summer it looked like an expulsion from paradise because Bella Italia did not like the blond German anymore. When Klinsmann mused at the end of last season that he did not plan to struggle fighting in a World Cup at the age of 30 but that he would rather do windsurfing it looked as if the end of a great career was pretty close. But of all things he regained his old virtues in the tiny state Monaco. He regained his morale, combative spirit, his bite and self-confidence which led him to become one of the premier goalgetters in a league that since the European Cup win of Marseille belongs to the creme de la creme of continental football. Also in the national team Klinsmann has regained his former ambition. From a doubtful case to a solid pillar is his story in the national team. During the US Cup he completed his return to the group of world class strikers. Scoring four goals he became the top goalgetter and was also voted most valuable player.
     
  21. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Munich
    #21 Gregoriak, Jun 30, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2017
    December 1993

    Anthony Yeboah [Forward]


    His injury might decide the championship: Anthony Yeboah, the dream forward from Frankfurt. With him Frankfurt were leading the race, without him they struggle to even score goals. At the beginning stood a mighty statement: "I think Tony is capable of scoring 40 goals this season". This was stated by Frankfurt manager Klaus Toppmöller. Most players might have cringed hearing such a statement. Not so Anthony Yeboah. The 27 year old forward from Ghana thought: "Why not? In any case the high-esteem of my manager gives me extra self-confidence."

    40 goals in 34 Bundesliga games! Only one player so far has managed that. The great Gerd Müller in season 1971-72. Müller's record will survive this season, a season that in the early weeks made many think that Toppmöller's forecast might come true. The mayor of Frankfurt, Andreas von Schoeler, recently answered a question about the most important person in Frankfurt right now with "Anthony Yeboah". The readers of "Kicker" voted Yeboah as the most popular foreign player in the Bundesliga. In August and September the Ghanaian wrote the most thrilling chapters of the league. In the first 7 games he only once failed to score, scoring 3 times against Freiburg and Nürnberg and once each against Mönchengladbach, Bremen and Karlsruhe - Frankfurt raced ahead in the table. Yeboah adorned his goal festival in the Bundesliga with goals in the UEFA Cup and the German Cup thus competing successfully in three major competitions.

    Until that "black Friday", the 24th of September, when Yeboah had to leave the pitch in Dresden at half time with a ligament rupture and an injured meniscus in the left knee. After the surgery he still is not active again, four months later. He has to at least wait another full month before he may see action again, provided the healing process progresses optimally. What Yeboah means to his team could be seen pretty quickly. In 11 Bundesliga games after his injury the whole team only managed to score 9 goals which was the total Yeboah had scored on his own until September. Although the Ghanian has only been featured 11 competitive games this first half of the season, barely the minimum amount of games needed to be included in our ranking, there was no doubt in our staff that Yeboah deserves to be ranked "world class".

    What the Pundit says - Gerd Müller

    Well done, Kicker! The ranking of the forwards could have been done by myself, I have almost no objections! Anthony Yeboah has to be valued above all others, to me he is on the same level as the Croation Boksic of Lazio and a little bit above Inter's Dutchman Bergkamp. Yeboah is always dangerous, shoots left and right, is strong at heading and uses his physique optimally. Only his injury made the championship race interesting again. Bad luck for Eintracht because they won't win the championship without Yeboah. Bayern will win it because you simply have to win the championship with a team like Bayern's. And when Yeboah returns in February it will take a long time before he reaches his old level again.

    Andreas Möller [German abroad - Offensive Midfielder]

    ... where there are no objective measurements like a stopwatch or a tape measure a ranking always has to be subjective. .... it is still astonishing that Jürgen Klinsmann still is valued so highly by Berti Vogts despite his fall from grace during the last 6 months. According to the Kicker writers Klinsmann took a far deeper plunge than any other international: from 'world class' in summer to 'broad circle' in our current ranking - that is the sober balance sheet of his few good deeds. Almost parallel but in the opposite direction the steep rise of Andreas Möller. To us the "Italian" was the only German of 'world class' during the last half year - what a happy ending after years of constant up and downs. In the national team, Möller mostly benefitted from Matthäus' withdrawal to the libero position, exploiting his new liberties in midfield to the fullest.

    At Juventus, Möller earned the respect of top dog Roberto Baggio although Baggio still calls the tune there. But soon there will be a showdown between the two stars: the next international friendly on March 23 in Stuttgart will pit Germany against Italy and thus Möller against Baggio. And if everything runs smoothly in the World Cup we may see another showdown in the quarterfinal in New York between the two three-times World Champions. Many experts think Möller to be capable of becoming the superstar of the World Cup. At any case during the last half year the eternal talent with the image of a soft boy has finally matured into a stable personality, a matchwinner and even a heading specialist. 12 goals for Juventus and 6 goals for Germany prove more than a lot of words.
     
  22. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    Has kicker ever made a great players list or all-time list of any sort (not necessarily in order)? Preferably from 1980s and before, but 1990s also fine.

    Above texts do have occasional hints about the perception of foreign players.

    Searching through Guerin Sportivo, as good as is possible, is a difficult task.
     
  23. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Munich
    I have not encountered such so far. Something like that would likely be published in a special issue.
     
  24. PrimoCalcio

    PrimoCalcio Member

    Milan/Napoli
    Italy
    Oct 14, 2019
    Forgive me if it the answer is in this thread, but does Kicker offer evaluation criteria or a particular definition for "world class"?
     

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