The third instalment of our unlikely European series focusses on Germany at the turn of the 80s.
BY GLENN BILLINGHAM
Bum-Kun Cha. Jurgen Pahl. Friedel Rausch.
One is a South Korean footballer who made his name as a player in the Bundesliga and went on to coach his home nation at a World Cup. One is a German goalkeeper who defected from East to West, was banned by FIFA, and retired to manage a restaurant in Paraguay. And one is a defender turned manager whose only claim to fame prior to 1980 was being bitten on the backside by a police dog in a Bundesliga match. So, what do these three gentlemen have in common? They all played pivotal roles in the story of what is surely the standard bearer of flash-in-the-pan, European cup competition success; Eintracht Frankfurt and their 1979/80 UEFA Cup campaign.
It was never on the cards for Eintracht Frankfurt. There were no superstar signings and no club legend returning to take over the managerial reins. A glittering youth development programme wasn’t coming fruition and the club has never been classed as a ‘sleeping giant’ ready to re-awake with a trophy anytime soon. There was little in the way of momentum building towards success and there definitely wasn’t an easy route smoothed over to the final. There was, however, a small squad of modest talent, built around a couple of veterans and a few interesting characters.
As the western world bid farewell to flares and warmly welcomed Lycra and neon, Eintracht Frankfurt were a respectable Bundesliga outfit; consistently average and sometimes flirting with minor success. The treasures of entry level silverware were enjoyed, but they never got to second base. The clubs solitary league championship came back in 1959, yet the mid-seventies did herald two German Cup victories. Furthermore, the late sixties gave the club a very modest taste of glory in Europe. The Coppa delle Alpi is far from the pinnacle of elite continental competition, but along with an Intertoto Cup win, gave the men from Frankfurt two European trophies in two years and a gentle reintroduction to playing in Italy, France, Switzerland and Austria. Of course, those modest victories weren’t the only European pedigree the Super Eagles had going into that 1979/80 campaign.
That lone and distant 1959 German title bought the reward of entrance into what was only the fifth edition of the European Cup, which was won by Real Madrid in each of its previous four editions. Frankfurt, making their first (and only appearance to date) in the competition, performed admirably throughout that 1959/60 campaign. The undoubted highlight: smashing Glasgow Rangers 12-4 over two legs in the semi-final to book an unexpected spot in the showpiece final to be played at Hampden Park. Somewhat inevitably, the opposition were to be Real Madrid. After winning an el clasico semi-final 6-2 on aggregate, Los Blancos stormed into the final. An attack including Di Stefano and Puskas was always going to bring goals, and the inexperienced Germans were eventually defeated 7-3 in front of a 127,621 crowd. Ironically, the game only went ahead after the German FA insisted upon a written apology from Ferenc Puskas. This following the Hungarian’s accusation that some West German players had taken drugs in 1954.
Somewhat surprisingly, the 1959/60 European Cup also included Wolverhampton Wonderers, who lost 9-2 on aggregate against Barcelona in the quarter-final.
Fast forward to September 19th 1979, and Pittodrie was the unlikely scene of Eintracht Frankfurt’s return to Europe. Aberdeen, with an impressive spine of Alex McLeish, Gordon Strachan and Steve Archibald, and equally impressive young manager by the name of Alex Ferguson, were the opposition. The season would finish with Aberdeen crowned Scottish champions, a first ‘non-Glasgow winner’ in fifteen years. Thankfully for Frankfurt, the Dons were somewhat slow starters that year and the German club triumphed in the first round with a narrow 2-1 aggregate win. Bum Kun Cha scored in the 1-1 draw in Scotland and the experienced Bernd Holzenbein struck to secure a 1-0 win in Frankfurt.
Friedel Rausch had made a solid start to his first full season in charge. Four wins from six games in the Bundesliga and the aggregate win over Aberdeen. Appointed in January 1979, Rausch represented quite the gamble. Still shy of his fortieth birthday, and with just one season of first team management under his belt with FC Schalke 04, he had no previous association with the club and was considered my many a controversial choice. In fact, most German football fans only knew the name ‘Friedel Rausch’ following a somewhat unsavoury moment in a Schalke 04 vs. Borussia Dortmund derby in 1969. A typically feisty affair, Rausch was first victim of a horrific challenge, and as the resulting pitch invasion and riot ensued, he was then the victim of a deep bite on the backside from an overly enthusiastic police dog. With no substitutes allowed, Rausch received a bandage and a tetanus shot at half-time and played on. Apparently, the scar remains today, as does Rausch’s calm sense of humour in retelling the tale.
Rausch’s efforts to win over some of his doubters as Frankfurt’s manager in 1979 weren’t helped by the circumstances of his appointment. The previous coach, Otto Knefler, was forced to finish his project earlier than fans, players, club and manager would have liked. He sustained serious injuries in a car accident on the way home from a German Cup match and was forced to retire from the game in September 1978.
As late summer gave way for a chilly autumn, Friedel Rausch didn’t have too many doubters left. Eintracht Frankfurt were a heady third in the Bundesliga and went into the UEFA Cup second round on the back of a 3-2 victory against Bayern Munich. However, the first leg in Romania against Dinamo Bucharest very nearly meant the end of the road. A 2-0 defeat, and something of a mountain to climb in the second leg. In front of an expectant Waldstadion crowd, Frankfurt needed extra-time and an inspired Bum-Kun Cha to overcome Dinamo Bucharest 3-0 on the night. The Korean, somewhat aptly nicknamed ‘Chaaa Boom’ after the ferocity of his shooting power, finally managed to break the deadlock in the seventy-fourth minute. Rausch and his charges were forced to wait till the ninety-first minute for the goal which took the game to extra-time, a strike by the experienced 1974 world Cup Winner, Bernd Holzenbein. Bernd Nickel scored the decisive third goal to claim victory in extra time and set-up a third-round tie against Feyenoord Rotterdam.
By the time the third round came around, Eintracht Frankfurt had managed to sustain third place in the Bundesliga and thoroughly enjoyed their home advantage in the first leg. Bernd Nickel, Bernd Holzenbein, Helmut Muller, and Bun Kun Cha all scored in a resounding 4-1 victory over Feyenoord. A scoreline which rendered the return leg a non-event.
Bum-Kun Cha was another outsider in his debut season at the Waldstadion, also winning hearts and praise with his performances. The South Korean had been spotted by Friedel Rausch at the Bangkok Asian Games and became the first Korean to play in Europe, signing for SV Darmstadt in 1978. After just one game for Darmstadt, and a period of military service in South Korea, Rausch bought Cha to Frankfurt shortly after his appointment. And following a goalscoring debut, and three in the following four weeks, Cha was an instant hero. Valued for his attitude and application as much as his goals, Alex Ferguson called him “unstoppable” after his sides defeat in the first round.
Nearly three months had passed since the 4-2 aggregate victory over Feyenoord, yet Eintracht Frankfurt still found themselves relatively comfortable in the top five of the Bundesliga. Not a lot appeared to have changed in Europe, either. A home draw for the quarter final first leg and a resounding 4-1 victory. This time though against little known opposition from Czechoslovakia, Zbrojovka Brno. As with the third round, the second leg consisted of a narrow defeat which was a mere consolation. Brno winning 3-2 with two of their goals coming in the final moments. This gave an aggregate score of 6-4, which somewhat flattered Brno.
As winter turned to spring, and the Bundesliga and UEFA Cup season entered their business stages, Eintracht Frankfurt gave the impression they might just wobble. Firstly, they’d lost the influential Jurgen Grabowski to injury for the remainder of the season. In a league match against Borussia Monchengladbach, played in between the quarter-final legs, Grabowski was on the wrong end of a rather crude challenge by a 19-year-old Lothar Matthaus. Inconsistency and misfortune was also creeping in between the sticks. Injury and form loss to first choice goalkeeper, Klaus Funk, paved the way for the charismatic Jurgen Pahl to stake his claim as number one. Maintaining form domestically and in Europe was proving a struggle, as the boys from Frankfurt slipped to seventh in the league table. Hamburg topped the table, closely followed by Bayern Munich, VfB Stuttgart, FC Koln and Kaiserslautern, which meant there were four of the top five teams balancing domestic and European fixtures.
All in all, there were seven teams from West Germany in European Competition in 1979/80. Hamburg, powered partly by the perm of Kevin Keegan, went all the way to the European Cup final where they were humbled by Nottingham Forest. Fortuna Dusseldorf entered the now defunct Cup Winners Cup and were the only team to be knocked out in the early rounds. While the European Cup was the elite competition for league champions, and the Cup Winners Cup was solely for each nation’s cup winners, the UEFA Cup was seen by most at the time as the true indicator of a national league’s pedigree. If that was indeed true, the Bundesliga was top. All four semi-finalists in the 1979/80 UEFA Cup were West-German; VfB Stuttgart would play Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayern Munich would play Eintracht Frankfurt. Kaiserslautern were the fifth German team in the competition and were defeated by Bayern in the quarter-finals.
The semi-final first leg was played on 9th April 1980, days after Eintracht Frankfurt were humiliated at home by bottom placed Hertha BSC and days before they suffered a 1-0 reverse at the hands of another relegation favourite, MSV Duisburg. The first leg against Bayern didn’t go too well either, a 2-0 defeat in Munich, and not much hope for recovering in the second leg. Following the match, and behind the scenes, Friedel Rausch shook hands on an agreement to extend his contract, regardless of how the season panned out.
In the one Bundesliga match played between the semi-final legs, Frankfurt managed to record another heavy defeat, this time 3-5 at home to Kaiserslautern, which did much work to cement lowered expectations. Not used to the momentum of success, the Waldstadion crowd were expecting nothing but a graceful exit in the second leg.
Bruno Pezzey, the formidable Austrian defender, gave Frankfurt hope to cling on to in the shape of a 1-0 lead just thirty-one minutes into the second leg. An ever-present for Eintracht Frankfurt in Europe, Pezzey did the unthinkable and put his side 2-0 up on the night in the eighty-seventh minute. A shell-shocked Bayern crumbled in extra time, pulling one goal back, and conceding a further three. The Bavarian club may have been sitting pretty on top of the Bundesliga, but the 22nd April and the 5-1 victory belonged to Frankfurt.
A stretched squad, and a focus towards the club’s first European final in twenty years, saw Frankfurt’s domestic form inevitably slip after the semi-finals. Just two wins were recorded in the last ten matches of the season and along with the somewhat erratic form of second choice goalkeeper, Jurgen Pahl, caused an air of caution.
It is often said that goalkeepers have to be slightly mad. It is also often proved that in Germany this is an unwritten law. ‘Mad’, it should be noted, is a relative term, and should be used with careful attention, especially in footballing circles. Jurgen Pahl first made a name for himself as a confident goalkeeper for the East Germany under 21 team. Playing a match in 1976, Pahl and close friend (and later Eintracht Frankfurt teammate) Norbert Nachtweih, escaped the team hotel. Defecting to West Germany their aim, and a one year FIFA ban the result of their success. Pahl took pride in being different and maintained a keen interest in everything from sociology to politics, and property development to gambling. This goes someway to explaining his relatively paltry one hundred and fifty two club appearances over the course of his ten year stay in Frankfurt. In the spring and early summer of 1980, though, Pahl was a consistent presence.
The luxury of a showpiece end of season final wasn’t something afforded to teams in 1980. Instead, the final was a two-legged affair. Borussia Monchengladbach would host the first leg having beaten VfB Stuttgart in the other semi-final. Though the Borussia team were undoubtedly in decline from their successful mid-seventies, they still posed a threat. Added spice came in the form of bad blood, quite literally. The young Lothar Matthaus, responsible for ending the season (and career) of Grabowski earlier in the season, still hadn’t been forgiven. Revenge was sought. Incidentally, that sense of injustice was long-lasting in Frankfurt, as in 2001 when Lothar Matthaus applied for the vacant manager’s position, only fans protests regarding the Grabowski challenge stopped Lothar from being appointed as Head Coach of Eintracht Frankfurt.
Lothar Matthaus fuelled the fire with an instrumental performance in the first leg of the final on 7th May. Away from home, Frankfurt were leading 2-1 with fifteen minutes remaining, goals coming from Holzenbein and Krager. Matthaus had assisted Christian Kullik for Borussia’s first goal, and then himself equalised in the seventy-seventh minute. Kullik won the game for the home side with two minutes remaining. A 3-2 defeat, but two valuable away goals for Friedel Rausch and his charges.
Exactly two weeks later, on the 21st May, Frankfurt lined up for the second leg. As expected, it was a nail-biter. A cagey first half saw Eintracht Frankfurt as the better side, but wasteful in front of goal. Borussia Monchengladbach were the stronger team in the second half, yet half-chances on the counter attack was as good as it got. Enter a stroke of genius or a mad gamble by Friedel Rausch. With thirteen minutes remaining, and Frankfurt so near yet so far, Rausch sent on the rarely used substitute, Fred Schaub. Ordinarily, Schaub shouldn’t have been available for selection. Having been sent-off in a reserve match in April, the nineteen-year-old received an eight week ban. However, for the fourth time that season, Eintracht Frankfurt asked the DFB (the German FA) for the ban to be removed, and for the fourth time, they agreed. So, in-front of a packed Waldstadion, and with six minutes of the 1980 UEFA Cup Final remaining, the ball fell to Schaub on his weaker left-foot and he promptly smashed the ball into the net. The admirable Bum-Kun Cha was instrumental in the winning goal, slipping his marker to set-up Schaub. The final score 1-0 on the night, 3-3 on aggregate, and Eintracht Frankfurt won by away goals.
For Borussia Monchengladbach, the 1980 final spelled the end of an era. The form and the faces behind the most successful decade in the club’s history faded away. For Eintracht Frankfurt, sadly it wasn’t too dissimilar. Manager Friedel Rausch decided not to prolong his stay and departed just weeks later to manage Fenerbahce in Turkey. Young goalscoring hero, Fred Schaub, never quite lived up to expectations and left the club early the following season. Tragically, Schaub died aged forty-two in an autobahn accident. His son, Louis, is a promising part of Rapid Vienna’s current side who narrowly missed out on this year’s Champions League group stage. Bun-Kun Cha remained at Frankfurt till 1983 when he signed for Bayer Leverkusen. He managed to add another European title to his honours list and continued to win friends and admirers. Cha became the record goalscorer for the South Korea national team and coached his home country at the France 1998 World Cup. As for Jurgen Pahl, he stayed at Eintracht Frankfurt until 1987. A brief spell playing in Turkey followed and a move to Paraguay in 1995 followed that. Pahl remains in South America where he’s been a football coach, academy director, hotel manager and is currently a restauranteur.
As competition winners, Frankfurt did qualify for the 1980/81 UEFA Cup but were dumped out on away goals by FC Sochaux in the third round. Ten of the eleven players remained, but the success did not.