St Pierre & Miquelon Football : An Archipelago’s Life with the Beautiful Game

St. Pierre & Miquelon football stands as a proud, if somewhat isolated outpost of the French overseas football landscape, lying in an archipelago off the North American Atlantic coast.

 

Consisting of a relatively small isolated population, lying 25km from Canada’s Newfoundland coast, St. Pierre & Miquelon has remained as an overseas department of France, retaining characteristics such as culture and an accents similar to those on the mainland of the Metropolitan European mainland. This also applies to the sports taking place on the island, including athletics, combat sports, rugby, hockey and of course football. This being an important and well participated part of community life on these islands. Despite the small population and limited resources, football has managed to survive and even thrive on the islands with plans to expand the islands football activities into the future.

 

Domestic Game ♦ International Football ♦ Football Development

 

History of St. Pierre & Miquelon

The reasons for the islands continued place as part of the French Republic came after an eventful and occasionally turbulent history in St.Pierre & Miquelon. Evidence of pre-historic activity exists on the archipelago, though they were uninhabited by the time of European exploration in the 16th century. From the beginning, and for much of it’s existence the islands were primarily used as a fishing area for European vessels, mainly for British and French sailors.

 

By the latter part of the 17th century, permanent settlements began to be established with Jean Talon writing in 1670 that the islands housed “13 fishermen and 4 settled people”. Following the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the islands were ceded to British rule, though were returned to France with the Treaty of Paris in 1763 in exchange British fishing rights in the area. Following the turmoil in the aftermath of the French Revolution, Acadian settlers fled the islands before Britain transferred the remaining approximately 950 resident to Halifax, Canada for two years. This left the islands once again uninhabited until 1816 when the islands began to be settled permanently from fishermen, primarily from Brittany, Normandy and the Basque Country.

 

Settlement was focused on the island of St.Pierre due to the landscape creating a natural harbor for docking vessels, despite Miquelon having a better climate and better arable land. Waters around the islands remained treacherous, earning the islands the moniker of “Cemetery of Shipwrecks”. A local legend suggests that the 12km isthmus which connects the larger islands of Miquelon and Langlade was created from deposits collecting around past shipwrecks between the islands.

Smaller St.Pierre & larger Miquelon

However, the remote location and limited sea stocks left the local economy to struggle apart from boom period in the 1920’s following the enactment of prohibition in the United Stated. St.Pierre & Miquelon acted as part of a route for alcohol smugglers to import alcohol into the US. Al Capone, the well known protagonist in this was know to have spent time staying at the “Hotel Robert” on St.Pierre during this time.

 

This period would last until 1933 with the U.S. repeal of prohibition, though the islands would not be spared from drama with the the outbreak of WWII, with St.Pierre & Miquelon serving as a North American front for events in Europe. Following the German invasion of France, the islands came under control of the German allied axis Vichy Regime. However supporter of De Gaulle’s Free France movement staged a successful and peaceful coup on Christmas Eve 1941, being an initial success for the allied forces. Tragedy would also strike when the Free France corvette “Mimosa” carrying mostly men fro St.Pierre sank escorting allied convoys on 9th June 1942 with 65 loses.

St.Pierre in 1887

 

Following this into modern times, St.Pierre & Miquelon has began to prosper, diversifying from being islands of fishing into services, tourism and other areas. However, despite the proximity to France’s former territories in North America, St.Pierre & Miquelon have retained a metropolitan French identity, from culture, accents and sports, with football standing as a focal point of community activities on the Islands.

 

Domestic St. Pierre & Miquelon Football

Despite a limited population, St. Pierre & Miquelon has sustained three main football clubs on the archipelago. Two are based on the main island of St.Pierre, AS Saint-Pierraise (ASSP) founded on 11/08/1903 & AS Ilienne Amateur (ASIA) founded in 1953. There is also one on Miquelon, AS Miquelonnaise (ASM) being established in 1949 with founding club president Gaetan Detcheverry. At present ASIA stands as the largest club, with some 260 players on their books across the age grades. Behind them,  ASSP comes in with approximately half the numbers, with around 130, whilst ASM, on the less densely populated Miquelon have around 60 registered players.

 

ASSP were the forerunners of football on the islands, occasionally playing to touring vessels for  games. An early occasion of this was on July 5, 1921 when ASSP lost 7-1 to the crew of the visiting English frigate “Valerian”at parc à Nicolas, in a magnificent display by the English visitors. They would also play the first Winter time football on February 3, 1958, when a selection from the crews of two visiting warships “La Bourdonnais” and “Agenais” played ASSP. Described as a splendid game, ASSP won out 3-2. In 1977, former Chief Medical Officer of Saint-Pierre Hospital Lieutenant Colonel Lapeyre, brought a military team from Nantes on a three game tour, earning a win, a draw and a loss.

ASSP 1932 Team
ASSOCIATION SPORTIVE SAINT PIERRAISE 1932
1-MAURICE FORGEARD
2-MARCEL GIRARDIN
3-EUGENE BECHET
4-CHARLES DURUTY
5-PAUL POULAIN
6-GABRIEL JACACHURY
7-JEAN DEMINIAC
8-SIMON BOUVIER
9-GUSTAVE LAFITTE
10-MARTIN CARRICART
11- ¿…?
12-PIERRE LACROIX
13- ¿…?
14-MARC MORAZE
15-ALBERT BRIAND

 

The Bataillon de Joinville army sports team had three game tours of the islands winning all three games, both in 1972 and 1988 against A.S.S.P (4-1) & (4-0), against A.S.I.A (3-2) & (5-0) and A.S.M (3-0) & (9-0). The 1972 team featured players such as Jean-Christophe Thouvenel, later playing for Bordeux and France winning the league, cup and Olympic football gold with France in 1984

 

Occasions like the visit of FFF National Technical director Joseph Mercier for a month and a half on June 13, 1973, Mr. Desrémaux, Regional Football Advisor  for Normandy in 1976 also helped in the development of the game on the archipelago. Perhaps the most high profile was referee Michel Vautrot in for two weeks 1987, to help with a joint St.Pierre/Canada tournament on the islands, but also paid by the FFF to assist with a referee training course. Vautrot brought great experience as the top French official, refereeing the 1983 Intercontinental Cup Final, 1982 and 1990 World Cup’s include Semi Finals, the 1988 Euro’s final and the 1986 European Cup final. From this, Vautrot was named gendarme d’honneur by the company of St.Pierre & Miquelon.

 

Typically football is played during a summer season, to allow games be played outside of school schedules. This provides an added benefit to the quality of playing surfaces,as due to limited funding, artificial grass pitches are unavailable, and with a limited staff to maintain the playing pitches, the summer season better suits the upkeep of the available natural pitches. The French State offers assistance in this regard, providing funds for two maintenance contractors to work on the pitches.

 

ASIA can boast three pitches in St.Pierre with the club being based at the Louis Quedinet Sports Complex, with their main ground being the John Giradin stadium (Field of Honour) with a capacity of 1400 spectators. Giradin was part of the founding of the club in the 1950’s helping to open the stadium in 1958, a stadium which now bears his name. Also, John Giradin’s granddaughter would serve as the French National Assembly for St. Pierre & Miquelon and is now the Minister of Overseas Territories in the French Government. Louis Quedinet himself was inducted into the Newfoundland & Labrador football hall of fame in 2013.

 

There is also the Léon Mahé stadium which is a 9 a side pitch for junior players and a 5 a side pitch for toddlers. Léon Mahé was renowned for he his hard work in the development of children’s football, thus the ground now bears his name.Also, off shore on the small island of Ile aux Marins, ASIA has a guesthouse established by volunteers which features 20 beds and a playing field as summer quarters for young players to stay together, bond as in a more relaxed environment than the main island.

 

ASSP have one ground located in the centre of town, the Stade Léonce Claireaux located on Rue Georges Daguerre with a capacity of 500. This had previously been the site of the island’s cemetery, but became vacant in 1872, being too small for purpose, with the land later being leased to A.S.S.P from 1926. Both clubs on St.Pierre continue to improve facilities with A.S.I.A undertaking great work improvements to the posts and stands for spectators at the South end of the ground. A.S.S.P have also improved storage facilities at the ground to add to an already pleasant stadium.

ASSP Stade

 

Also located further south along the shoreline on Boulevard Port en Bessin, is the Sport and Cultural Centre. This ground features a surrounding Olympic track, however the pitch is not used by any of the football clubs on the island, instead being rented as a rugby playing pitch. Indoors there is a sports hall which is used for winter futsal among the islands teams. On Miquelon, ASM play at the Stade de l’Avenir on Route du Stade, with a capacity for approximately 200. It features a main playing field, and a smaller second field divided into two smaller pitches for youth football. These pitches are also served by a small clubhouse.

 

For competition on the islands, the main prize is the St.Pierre & Miquelon Championship, featuring the three senior teams, ASIA, ASSP and ASM. These teams all play a total of 16 games during the Summer season, with each side playing both opponents 8 times, 4 home and 4 away. The season itself is divided into 4 ‘mini-leagues’, so there is a constant competitive element throughout the season. At the end of the season, the leader in the overall league table is declare the winner of the championship.

 

For the 2017 season, the sponsored segments of the season were named the Coupe “Rotary Club”, “CAS EDF”, “Taxi Tan” and Coupe “Agricole Eco”. Further to this, the teams place in 1st and 2nd in the table play in a further game, at the home venue of the Championship winner, to contest the Archipelago cup, the grand final of the season. In this 2017 edition, the honours went to ASIA who complete the 14th league and cup double in the clubs history, winning the final 4-0 against St.Pierre rivals ASSP (Full Match here)
2017 Final ASSP 0-4 ASIA
 

 

Outside the local competition, team from St.Pierre & Miquelon often compete in Canadian competitions in Newfoundland. With the main senior competitions being restricted to Canadian teams (so they can represent the province at national level), St.Pierre & Miquelon teams have for a long time been permitted to compete in ‘B’, 2nd division or intermediate championships, where they have occasionally found success. In 1977, the A.S.I.A pupils team won the Newfoundland Cup for their age bracket, beating a St.Johns team 6-2. In 1978 two senior teams from the archipelago met in the adult intermediate final with A.S.I.A beating A.S.S.P 6-4 after extra time. 1979 A.S.M saw find success in this tournament beating Springdale in the final, being carried by Miquelon locals on their return home in celebration, winning the title again in 2012, beating Grand Bank GeeBees 3-1 in the final. A.S.I.A would also win the short lived “Premier’s Cup” in Newfoundland in 1984 before that tournament ceased.

 

As in many countries, women’s football had a later development on the islands. The first official women’s match took place on 07/04/1977 in a 2-2 draw between A.S.S.P and A.S.I.A at the Stade Léonce Claireaux in a 2-2 draw. The first foreign women’s team to visit was the Canadian team Grand-Bank from Newfoundland on 09/04/1977 to face A.S.S.P with A.S.S.P winning out 3-0 at the Stade Léonce Claireaux. Currently perhaps due to a North American influence on the French islands,  25% of players on the islands are female, higher than the European the average. This is also helped by the specific work done by clubs and coaches on the islands, which has seen recognition by the FFF, with A.S.I.A given the label “École Féminine de Football” in 2013, in particular for pre-teen female football development and again a Women’s Silver Football award in 2017 of the continued work and progress in this area.

 

 

St.Pierre & Miquelon National Team and International Representation.

Outside the domestic game, St.Pierre & Miquelon has also fielded a national team to compete in the 2010 and 2012 editions of the Coupe de l’Outre-Mer, a competition for teams representing France’s overseas territories, back with €900,000 funding from the FFF. However in these tournaments, work commitments forced many regular players to miss out, leaving St.Pierre & Miquelon to send a squad of student players who would be available for the tournament.

2012 St.Pierre & Miquelon Squad

2012 Coupe de l’otre Mer -St.Pierre & Miquelon Squad
 
Goalkeepers:
Olivier Morel (c) (ASM) 
Simon Hebditch (ASSP)
 
Defenders:
Rémi Audouze (ASIA)
Jean-Baptiste Borotra (ASSP)
Ivan Dos Santos (ASM)
Mathiaud Kevin (ASM)
Gary Urdanabia (ASIA)
 
Midfielders:
Xavier Delamaire (ASIA)
Maxime Gautier (ASIA)
Matthieu Demontreux (ASSP)
Nicolas Lemaine (ASM)
Aymeric Tillard (ASIA)
Tristan Girardin (ASSP)
 
Forwards:
Mickaël Lucas (ASM)
Olivier Blanchet (ASIA)
William Revert (ASIA)
Martin Disnard (ASIA)
 
> Coach:
Yannick Lafont

 

Although both campaigns featured very heavy defeats in all games against much more experienced, well funded and profession teams, there were occasional bright points. These included getting on the score sheet against French Guiana and New Caledonia, a team that reached the final of the OFC Nations cup, comfortably beating 2010 World Cup participants New Zealand along the way. Speaking about their tournament exploits to World Soccer, head coach Yannick Lafont said.

“We do not complain, we cannot bring quality, but we can bring good sportsmanship”

 

The suspension of the Coupe de l’Outre-Mer after the 2012 edition due to cost has left St. Pierre and Miquelon somewhat disconnected from the rest of the French footballing community and the wider international footballing world. However there are now initiatives to begin entering the champion club in the Coupe de France, which would again provide a wider outlet for the St. Pierre & Miquelon footballing community to have a reach beyond their corner of North America.

 

In the past there have been occasional exhibition games against other visiting football teams. During the 1970’s two high profile Scottish teams visited St.Pierre. A combined A.S.I.A – A.S.S.P team faced Ayr United at the Stade John Giradin on 04/07/1975, with the superior professional visitors winning out 14-0 in an excellent display. 1978 would see Queen’s Park of Glasgow also visit as part of a Canadian tour, this time with A.S.M players joining at the Stade John Giradin on 21/07/1978 to make it a complete combined archipelago team. In what was a more competitive game the home side still found themselves with a losing scoreline of 4-0. Tragically two Scottish players, Bernie Donnelly and David Ballantyne would die in a car accident just days later on this Canadian tour following this game.

 

On the opposite end of the experience scale, the most high profile game to take place in St. Pierre & Miquelon occurred in 1997, when a Variety Club de France side featuring Michel Platini visited the islands. Though Platini proved to be a little aloof, avoiding visiting the young people on the islands. However, it was a great occasion for the footballing community on the islands, despite a 5-4 loss in the game for the St.Pierre & Miquelon selection.
Match Stats & Lineups

Final Score – Variétés Club de France 5-4 St.Pierre & Miquelon
Venue – Stade John Girardin  Referee – Joël Quiniou  Attendance – 1,400
 
Lineups
Variétés Club de France St.Pierre & Miquelon
Xavier Perez Stéphane Audebaud
Thierry Blanchon    ⊕30 Gino Bonnieul
Bruno Blachon Jean-Noël DeLizarraga
Robert Buigues Denis Gauthier
Jean-François Domergue Desdouets Goénaël
Daniel Toti Gildas Morel
Bruno Germain Arrossaména Paul
Jean-Michel Larqué Franck Lebars
Gérard Bernardet Gaël Detcheverry
Michel Platini    ⊕19, 36, 71, 78 Stanislas Beck
Jean-Pierre Orts Xavier Dodeman
Jean-Paul Guemise Claude Michel
Patrick Valente Denis Rebmann
Victor Zvunka Arnaud Urdanabia
Eric Faisant Philippe Dodeman    ⊕75, 85
Lionel Tejedor Yannick Kello
Paco Rubio Jean-Pierre Plaa    ⊕23
Charly Thetard Miguel Tesnière
René Hamard  
Jacques Vendroux  VCF Own Goal ⊕19
   
Unused VCF Players

Michel Ennesser Serge Piovan
Eric Rolland Thierry Roland
Patrick Iriart Emmanuel Fraudin
Michel Brohan Gérard Morin
Daniel Vertelary Jean-Claude Derouet
Michel Bretagne Jean-Claude Colas
Joël Quiniou Jean-François Falcou
Pierre Ville  

St.Pierre&Miquelon v VCF


Footballing Development

For the underage football teams on the island, there is an opportunity to travel to Newfoundland in Canada to play in youth competitions. This typically happens crossing the 25km to their near Newfoundland neighbours, but occasionally games against teams from far parts of Newfoundland such as Stephenville are possible. Youth teams have also traveled further inland in Canada to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, but a lack of funding make such trips difficult and infrequent. The investment in facilities for youth football along with participation in these competitions has enabled recognition.

 

In 2016 ASIA organised a rally for 250 school aged players as part of a competition organised by the FFF, which resulted in 12 children and 3 adults being rewarded with a trip to see the Euros in Paris. Also ASIA was also awarded a “Youth Excellence” award by the FFF. This follows in a fine tradition on the islands coming from the likes of Clément Vallée, who worked for 60 years as a caulker at the St.Pierre port, but also made life long contributions to hockey, while both playing and refereeing football on the islands too. For this he was awarded the French National Order of Merit and Sports medal for his contributions.

 

These awards have helped bring further notice from the FFF to the efforts of the people on the islands. In the summer of 2017, 2 young ASIA club girls, Léa Sbeghen Lamiraud and Eloïse Michelins were selected from a group of 60 across the country to be invited from St.Pierre to join a scouting camp at the FFF centre of excellence in Clairefontaine in France further evidence of the developing level of skills and recognition of this by the FFF.

 

Much promise is being held for 15 year old Tommy Skinner who in 2017 left the islands to go to mainland France, in Loches to pursue dreams of becoming a professional footballer. He was selected among nine candidates to apply for a sports position from St.Pierre & Miquelon (Though most were for hockey). Now as part of school there is 4 hours playing time with his school while also training several times a week, with matches at the weekends, a much more sophisticate setup than can be expected in St.Pierre. The experience of Tommy shine a light on the difference between these to distant and distinct parts of modern France.

“Here, the landscape is different, people are different. Life is different… There, we all know each other. We say hello. Here, in the street, we do not look at each other.”

 

In contrast, while players move from St.Pierre & Miquelon to seek further opportunities on mainland France, through football, but also for education or to experience the metropolitan life, the reverse can be true for coaches. Though the FFF does not fun additional coaches, clubs on the the archipelago, many are recruited on a temporary basis to help the development of St.Pierre & Miquelon. One such coach, Mattieu Guillain from the Indre Football District on the mainland made the North Atlantic move to spend four months on the islands, working mainly with developmental versions of the game, such a the female teams and futsal. Speaking of his experience, it resemble that of many who spend time working with the game in St. Pierre & Miquelon.

“It was a pleasant four months, I wanted to travel and discover other football…There is a real fervor around football there!”

 

Looking to the Future

Though there is a strong vibrant footballing community on the archipelago, limitations due to climate, location and funding among other issues continue to remain a barrier to progress on the islands, despite the proud tradition of football and the amazing hard work of players and volunteers involved with the game. Visits like that of FFF president Noël Le Graët in 2015, give hope of federation support, unsure if any will materialise. Speaking at the 2012 Coupe de l’Outre-Mer, midfielder Stanislas Beck spoke of the ambitions for football development on the islands.
Noël Le Graët Visits

“… our progress depends essentially on the creation of good structures such as covered terrain. With this type of facility, we could raise the level in the archipelago and compete with other oversees teams. Without these infrastructures, we can not improve local football by bringing in coaches or Regional Technical Advisers on the archipelago. Indeed, it is impossible for them to work, at least in the medium term”

 

The occasional funding received is complimented by the community role these clubs play, offering club memberships, lotteries, community events which can help with fund basic running costs, but leave no room for a great expansion of infrastructure. However what is clearly evident is that the game on these islands is mostly fueled by the dedication of participants and passion for the game. It is this which has provided the great tradition of the game in St.Pierre & Miquelon and ensures it’s continuation as a integral presence in life in St.Pierre & Miquelon.

 

 

 


Great credit to Ludivine Quédinet for her tremendous help with this article, with out whom it would not have been possible to write. Also to Jeff Babstock for help with Newfoundland details.

It’s possible in translation that errors or omissions have occurred in this article, so if any errors are notice, please write and they can be corrected, with due credit given, of course.

Toute aide pour corriger les erreurs dans cet article est appréciée

 




Top 5 : Faroe Islands International Football Victories

Football in the Faroe Islands has a long history, which in recent years has produced a competitive national side which can be held as an example to other smaller nations throughout the world. From surprise, upset victories to more recent excellent competitive performances, the Faroe Islands have left a significant mark on the international footballing landscape. Here we pick 5 of the best Faroe Islands international football victories.

 

1: 🇫🇴 Faroe Islands vs 🇬🇷 Greece

2016 ECQ – (A) Res.  0-1) / (H) Res. 2-1

The most famous and impressive set of results in the relatively short history of competitive fixtures for Faroe Islands international football undoubtedly came against Greece during Euro 2016 qualification.. An historic win in Greece was followed by an as impressive victory in the return fixture on home soil. These two victories stand as landmark results in Faroes football history.


 

2: 🇫🇴 Faroe Islands vs 🇦🇹 Austria

1992 ECQ – (H) Res. 1-0


The result that launched Faroe Islands football into the international consciousness, was a 1-0 win against Austria in 1990, with Torkil Nielsen responsible for the famous goal. The match was played at ‘home’ in Landskrona, Sweden with no grass pitch available in the Faroes at the time. The Faroese amateurs toppling their Austrian pro counterparts for a maiden competitive victory triggered wild celebrations at home and set Faroe Islands international football on it’s way.

 

 

3: 🇬🇮 Gibraltar vs 🇫🇴 Faroe Islands

2014 Friendly – (A) Res. 1-4


Though only a friend match, it carries two significant historical notes. Firstly, the Faroe’s victory will stand as Gibraltar’s first official defeat in international football. Though, perhaps more importantly to the Faroese, the 4-1 winning results stands as a record win for the Faroe Islands national team, therefore matching a 3-0 victory against San Marino in 1995. Though winning away on the Mediterranean, with a record 4 goals thus making this result extra special.



 

4: 🇫🇴 Faroe Islands vs 🇦🇽 Åland Islands

1989 Island Games Final Match (H) Res. 7-1


In 1989, the Faroe Islands picked up their first piece of international footballing silverware, the 1989 Islands Games Football Trophy. The games, hosted by the Faroe Islands, were the first to feature a football tournament. The home team pleased it’s fans winning the tournament with a very impressive 7-1 victory over fellow Scandinavian opposition in the Åland Islands, in a high spot before joining UEFA in 1990. Bergur Magnussen’s 6 goal tally secured his place as tournaments top scorer, with the Faroe’s retaining the trophy in 1991


 

5: 🇱🇻 Latvia vs 🇫🇴 Faroe Islands

2018 WCQ (A) Res. 0-2


Finally, the most recent victory (at time of writing, 2017), was as accomplished as any on this list so far. Though others can be seen as upset results or triumph over ‘lesser’ teams, this 2016 victory over Latvia showed what a competitive side the Faroe Islands now are. Goals either side of half time in this excellent display show how far Faore’s football has come, 30 years since FIFA admission. With a history of fine results and a fine crop of talented players in this generation capable of results, such as against Latvia, Faroe Islands football has truly come of age.

 

 

Honourable Mentions

Though these are just a pick of many great results in Faroe Islands football history, there are many others worth of consideration.

In the final Nordic Championship the Faroes earned a 0-0 draw against a rookie Sweden side featuring the international debut of Zlatan Ibrahimavic, being kept scoreless on this occasion.

The entire 2004 Euros qualifying campaign feature many “almost” moments. leading late in Torshavn to Scotland before a late equaliser for a 2-2 result. Germany had two scares, being 0-0 in Torshavn until two goals in the final minute to break Faroese hearts. In the return fixture, Germany won 2-1, though not before the Faroe’s hit the post late in game, narrowly missing on a famous result. Finally losing 2-1 to Iceland in Reykjavik after a 90′ minute Iceland goal, though the campaign showed much promise.

Finally, the Faroes have success with all Baltic states, holding wins over Estonia, Lithuania and the aforementioned Latvia, along with Canada, Kazakhstan, and European rivals Iceland, Luxembourg, San Marino, Malta, Gibraltar and Liechtenstein.


Complete list of Competitive Faroe Islands Victories

 

 12/9/90  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands  1-0  🇦🇹 Austria
 25/5/95  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands  3-0  🇸🇲 San Marino
 11/10/95  🇸🇲 San Marino  1-3  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands
 30/4/97  🇲🇹 Malta  1-2  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands
 8/6/97  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands  2-1  🇲🇹 Malta
 24/3/01  🇱🇺 Luxembourg  0-2  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands
 1/9/01  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands  1-0  🇱🇺 Luxembourg
 9/9/09  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands  2-1  🇱🇹 Lithuania
 7/6/11  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands  2-0  🇪🇪 Estonia
 14/11/14  🇬🇷 Greece  0-1  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands
 13/6/15  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands  2-1  🇬🇷 Greece
 7/10/16  🇱🇻 Latvia  0-2  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands

🇫🇴 Best Faroe Islands Win

 
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Western Sahara Football – A Sahrawi Sporting Identity

Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Southern Provinces, Sahara Occidental or simply Western Sahara. Even defining what name to give to this region presents just the first of the many hurdles to overcome before one can begin to understand the complicated state of Western Saharan football.

 

Expressing Sahrawi Football Identity ♦ Current Tensions ♦ Moving Forward

 

Football in Western Sahara

On the face of it, football in Western Sahara can seem to be quite a straight forward affair. Jeunesse Massira play in Laayoune (ES:El Aaiún; FR: Laâyoune), the largest city in Western Sahara. They play in the Moroccan football system, spending most of their time in the top flight even reaching four cup semi-finals, most recently in 2005. It’s importance to Moroccan football is seen by the cities hosting of the 2016 Moroccan Cup final in the city’s “Stade Sheikh Mohamed Laghdaf” stadium.

 


This narrative would be disputed by those supporting the POLISARIO, (Frente Popular de Liberación de Saguía el Hamra y o de Oro), who’s aim is the self-determination of Western Sahara and to break from their perceived occupation by Morocco, previously through armed struggle but since a 1991 ceasefire has put focus on diplomacy and among other things sporting representation through the likes of football. Their narrative would suggest that Morocco’s occupation is illegitimate and that football is being used as one of many tools to legitimize Moroccan control in the area.

Stade Cheikh Laghdaf

 

This can been seen in the origins of the Jeunesse Massira team itself. It was originally founded in 1977 in the central Moroccan city of Benslimane, centered between Rabat and Casablanca near Morocco’s coastline. The team was originally named “Auxilliary Forces of Benslimane” reflecting the connection to the Royal Armed Moroccan Forces who established the team, much like the connections seen in Eastern European teams of the time and RAF Rabat, whom provided the inspiration for establishing a similar team in Benslimane. Football has been strong in Spanish Morocco with Atlético Tetuán appearing in the Spanish 1951/52 La Liga campaign, recording a 4-1 home win against namesakes Athletico Madrid and a 3-3 draw with Real Madrid.

 


In 1995, the decision was made for this team to move it’s base from Benslimane to Laayoune in Western Sahara. Morocco had been in dispute over the territory with Mauritania following Spain’s ceding of control in 1975, with the latter removing it’s claims in 1979 following conflict with the POLISARIO. Morocco had strong control in the region surrounding Laayoune until 1982 before advances, in the form of a series of sand berm constructions, particularly in 1984 and 1985 gave Morocco significant control in the wider region. A referendum planned to take place in 1992 following a ceasefire never materialized and so the majority of the region continued under de facto Moroccan control allowing for the establishment of a football team in Laayoune.

Sahrawi fortification

 

This could be used to reflect the growing Moroccon control in the region as reflected in the change in the teams name to “Jeunesse Massira” with Massira being the name given to the “Green March” where up to 300,000 unarmed Moroccans marched across the border to occupy areas of Western Sahara vacated by the Spanish. The teams somewhat artificial existence is shown by an absence of local crowds at games, with support made up from mostly from the friends and family of security forces in the region. The moving of a Moroccan team into Western Sahara could be seen as a metaphor from the movement of Moroccan people across the border in 1975.

Expressing Sahrawi Football Identity

However, while Moroccan influence was expanding into Western Sahara, and into Western Saharan football, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) were seeking to take their own foothold into the footballing world. Many teams have represented the Sahrawi people throughout the years, with the first games being recognized by the Sahrawi Football Federation as having taken place in 1984 against Algerian league sides. The difficulties with political instability along with an almost total lack of resources made organizing fixtures a challenge for the Sahrawi Football Federation.

 

Western Sahara lineup vs. Esperanto

 

The prospects of development for Sahrawi football were given a boost when in 2003, Western Sahara was accepted as a member to the NF-Board, an organisation set up to help organised football for regions unaffiliated to FIFA. Though unable to attend any of the early tournaments organised by the NF Board due primarily a lack of funding, in 2012 they received financial help from the Kurdish organizers of the 2012 Viva World Cup allowing the team to travel to Erbil.

 

From this a transition occurred from the previous “Western Sahara XI” sides, a selection which had lost to a Galicia selection 2-1 in 2011, into a fully fledged Sahrawi National Football Team (nicknamed The “Dromederies”) to compete as Western Sahara into the future. The then Sahrawi Minister of Youth and Sport, Mohamed Moulud Mohaed Fadel officially announced the establishment on the 25th of March 2012. Following official backing and logistical support from Kurdistan, Western Sahara could finally compete on the international stage at a time when other sporting en-devours were being made in the region such as the introduction of the “Sahara Marathon”.

 

The Viva World Cup would prove to be a relative success for the debuting Western Sahara team. A decision was made to send players from the Tindouf camps rather than those based in Europe, and following trials a team of 20 was given five days to train before making the journey to Kurdistan. Though losing their group games to hosts Kurdistan (6-0) and Occitania (6-2), a main cause being explained that players were slipping due to not being used to playing on grass. The placement round games would see improvement with wins against Darfur (5-1 : Their first in competitive football) and also against Raetia (3-0) before losing a more competitive rematch against Occitania to finish in 6th place overall in their maiden tournament. However, with disorganization within the NF Board halting any further tournaments being organised to date, Western Sahara made the switch to CONIFA to be it’s home for the foreseeable future.

 

There is precedent for football outside of FIFA to be one approach used by nations who have gone on to successfully receive international recognition which has boosted their case for self determination. A similar approach was seen in North Africa by Algeria, who used a touring ‘national’ side to represent Algeria (Then part of France). This was to help to legitimize the Algerian statehood movement known as the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) team representing the Algerian resistance movement, also known informally as the “eleven for independence” in English.

 

On the eve of the 1958 World Cup, Algerian native players left Switzerland for Tunisia to join up with the FLN side including Mustapha Zitouni and Rashid Makhloufi, a league winner in 1957 with St.Etienne and with four French caps to his name. This team continued to tour until Algerian independence before it was succeeded by an official Algerian National team. In more recent times, teams such as Palestine and most notably Kosovo have expressed their national self determination through receiving international recognition through their football team, if not through total political recognition.

Current Tensions

Prior to this VIVA World Cup tournament, tragedy was to occur in the Moroccan controlled Western part of the region in the port city of Dakhla. SCC Mohammédia from Mohammédia, a port city just north of Casablanca, visited to face Mouloudia Dakhla recording a 3-0 victory. However reported tension and stone throwing as fans left the ground escalated as supporters left the stadium into riotous conditions. It was reported that “criminals” took advantage of the disorder to engage in attacks with knives, escalating to the point of five reported deaths, three civilians run over and two police officers with some 30 others wounded.

 

Similar tensions erupted south east of Laayoune earlier that year stemming from the originally peaceful Gdeim Izik protest camp which aimed to seek better treatment for Sahrawi people, though some also took the opportunity to call for Sahrawi independence. The African Union condemned the violence, saying “Forcible measures taken by Moroccan authorities to dismantle the camp and disband the protesters have regrettably resulted in the loss of lives and the destruction of property”, violence which spread throughout the region.

 

Morocco has also shown specific opposition to Western Sahara on a footballing front. Prior to the 2012 VIVA World Cup, Morocco attempted to contact Qatar Airways to have the team’s scheduled flights from Doha to Erbil suspended, though the Western Saharan team still arrived on schedule in Kurdistan. Morocco have also hosted two celebration exhibition matches in Laayoune in commemoration of the Green March for the 40th anniversary in 2015 and once again for the 41st in 2016, featuring on both occasions Argentine legend Diego Maradona. Others to feature in these games include former players of the year Rivaldo and George Weah in front of crowds of 30,000 people. This, tied to the city’s hosting of the Moroccan Cup final can be seen as how Morocco can also use football to boost recognition for their claims to this area.

 

Such actions are not limited to high profile football events. In 2016 at the u-20 L’Alcúdia hosted it’s annual International Football Tournament (also known as COTIF) near Valencia, a tournament which has showcased the likes of Raúl, Isco and Abel Hernandez in past editions, though it was here where tensions again showed. At the opening ceremony the introduction of the Moroccan team was greeted by whistles from the 10/11 year olds from a Western Sahara team competing in a concurrent children’s tournament. From this, the Moroccan team initially refused to attend the official reception from the mayor of L’Alcúdia, though this was later changed to a full withdrawal from the u-20 tournament, suggesting that they would not play if the Children’s team from Western Sahara was allowed to compete. COTIF president Eliseu Gomez stated that “nothing was done with bad will, the claim that they can not be together in an official place, it is the first time in 33 years that a team withdraws during the competition”. It shows the tensions of this conflict are far reaching.

 

Despite relinquishing ‘de facto’ control in the area in the 1970’s, Spain continues to play an active role in supporting the people of Western Sahara. Many Sahrawi moved to Spain in search of a new life, now being dispersed through the country. This has created a separate Sahrawi community based in Europe which helps to support those away from Western Sahara. However due to difficulties in communicating with and travelling between those based in the refugee camps in Algeria, this has created two separate Sahrawi organisations, though unity is the ultimate goal. At present the footballing unity is found but the winner of the RASD cup in Spain playing against the champion from the camps, in a champion of champions final.

 

Moving Forward


Things are never easy when it comes to football for Western Sahara. In 2015 The Western Sahara team was invited to play a friendly game against an “Esperanto Selection” during the 100th annual Esperanto congress in Lille, France, the first game to be played by an Esperanto side under fielded by the Esperanto FA. The first half went extremely well for Western Sahara, racing to a 4-0 lead. However at half time, the Esperanto players returned to their dressing rooms to find find their possessions had been stolen. Dealing with this, they did not return for the second half and the match had to be abandoned. Following this in June 2017, Western Sahara played there first fixture for almost two years against a refugee select team in Tindouf, playing out a 3-3 draw with Mohamed Boglaida (2) and Hamid Mohammed on the scoresheet.

Western Sahara v Esparanto

With the official establishment of a Western Saharan team in 2012 after a long legacy of football in the region, the challenges into the future remain in the logistics of organising players and fixtures for this team to grow and thrive as representation for Western Sahara, it’s people and it’s footballing community. With occasional friendlies for the national team, and the RASD cup providing an outlet for those away from their homeland, football remains a passion for Western Saharan people. The political conflicts in the region may take time to solve, and though there can be sometimes crossover into sport, the hope is that in this case football can rise above all and bring people together in a peaceful way, simply for the love of the game.

 


Credit to those at RASDSport for help in the research of this article and to @ditikisahara  for very helpful contributions also.

 

Note:All efforts have been made to ensure accuracy in this article, though with potential errors, particularly in translation errors. However if an error is notice, please contact and any error will be happily corrected.




Top 5 : Andy Selva’s Top San Marino Goals

Andy Selva stands as possibly the most widely recognised player to wear the San Marino colours in international fixtures across the footballing world. His time playing for his country over a 20 year career leaves him as San Marino’s record goal scorer, scoring not only important goals, but also many spectacular strikes to light up San Marino’s fixtures during this time.  Here we highlight five of his very best strikes.

 

Goal 1:🇸🇲 Andy Selva vs 🇸🇰 Slovakia 2008 (’10 WCQ)

Starting at number one on the list and possibly ranking number one as the greatest individual goal in the relatively short history of San Marino football on the international stage. This goal in a losing 3-1 effort in a 2008 World Cup qualifier at home to Slovakia shows Selva’s full range of skills. Great movement to find space, takes the defender one-on-one before beautifully curling the ball into the far corner, a simply wonderful goal.

 

 

Goal 2:🇸🇲 Andy Selva vs 🇧🇦 Bosnia 2005 (’06 WCQ)


The first free kick to feature on this list, a list that could equally stand as a tribute to Andy Selva’s ability from the dead ball, it highlights Selva’s quality as a ball striker. Here from some 30 yards out, Selva produces a powerful strike with minimal back lift that flashes over the Bosnian wall, before flying past the keeper into the corner of the net. A free kick that many would be proud to produce and a stand out among Selva’s many fine efforts.

 

 

Goal 3:🇸🇲 Andy Selva vs Wales 2007 (’08 ECQ)


This wonderful dead ball strike came in a relatively competitive Euro 08 qualifying campaign for San Marino. They had a narrow 1-0 loss to Cyprus, and a heart breaking 2-1 loss to an Irish 90th minute winner, though again looked competitive at home to Wales. This well struck free kick pulled the score back to 2-1 and though the score remained at this leaving San Marino without a point, this strike remains the highlight of that game.


 

 

Goal 4:🇸🇲 Andy Selva vs 🇧🇪 Belgium 2001 (’02 WCQ)


In February 2001, San Marino travelled to Bruxelles to face a Belgium side fresh from co-hosting the previous Summer’s Euro 2000 championships. Though it features in the one true one-sided result on this list, Andy Selvas 25 yard strike from a free kick, right into the top corner of the Belgian net left Selva with one of his finest international strikes and left the home Belgian crowd to applaud this fantastic effort.


 

 

Goal 5:🇸🇲 Andy Selva vs 🇱🇮 Liechtenstein 2004


No list can be complete without including this strike. Coming during a 2004 friendly, this goal from Andy Selva helped to record a 1-0 victory against Liechtenstein, a result which currently stands as their only victory in official international football to date. Again showing his proficiency from free kicks, this near 35 yard strike once again finds its way into the corner, past the keeper to create a piece of San Marino football history.


 

 


Complete list of Andy Selva International Goals

1: ECQ (Group 6) 10/14/98 (H) 🇸🇲 San Marino 1:4 Austria 🇦🇹
2: WCQ (Group 6) 02/28/01 (A) 🇧🇪 Belgium 10:1 San Marino🇸🇲
3: WCQ (Group 6) 06/06/01 (H) 🇸🇲 San Marino 1:4 Belgium 🇧🇪

4: Int. Friendly 04/28/04 (H) 🇸🇲 San Marino 1:0 Liechtenstein 🇱🇮

5: WCQ (Group 7) 03/30/05 (H) 🇸🇲 San Marino 1:2 Belgium 🇧🇪
6: WCQ (Group 7) 06/04/05 (H) 🇸🇲 San Marino 1:3 Bosnia&Herz. 🇧🇦

7: ECQ (Group D) 10/17/07 (H) 🇸🇲 San Marino 1:2 Wales 

8: WCQ (Group C) 10/11/08 (H) 🇸🇲San Marino 1:3 Slovakia 🇸🇰


🇸🇲Favourite Selva Goal

 
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Top 5 : Football Video games with smaller teams

Football games have become incredibly mainstream in recent years, often adonred with a cover feature the top footballing stars of the day. However, what about lower ranked football teams representation in computer games. Here we look at a sample of just five to get your obscure football gaming fix.

 

1: Sensible World of Soccer – (Amiga, PC, *XBOX Live : 1994)

 

Sensible World of Soccer was an ambitious evolution from the 90’s Amiga classic top down game Sensible Soccer. The massive expansion to the playable database means that if St Vincent & The Grenadines vs. Soloman Islands in 1996 takes your fancy, here is your chance to experience it!

A key feature of this game is the wonderful career mode which allows up to 20 seasons of engaging gameplay, including your chance to take for favourite club side from perhaps Estonia to continental glory! The gameplay itself is a benchmark for the genre and is a perfect place to start for a quick minnows football fix!


 

2: Actua Soccer 3 – (PC, PS1 : 1998)

 

Gremlin interactive were at the forefront on the move to 3D football sims in the mid 1990’s with their release of the Actua Soccer series. Though the gameplay was latterly usurped by EA Sports FIFA and Konami’s ISS Pro Evolution Soccer titles, the graphics hold up well for a mid 90’s title.

Much like Sensible Soccer’s evolution, the Actua Soccer 3 featured a massive expansion to the playable teams covering all English league clubs along with some non-league and Ladies sides. Added to this was a massive global selection of sides from all confederations, so if you want to face you low ranked European team against a Thai or New Zealand opponent, here you can.

 

3: Fifa 98 – (PSX, N64, SEGA etc. : 1997 (JP:1998)

 

Perhaps the most fondly remembered football game of this era, FIFA 98 set the template for what most football sims have become today. With great graphics for the time, fluid gameplay and even the fondly remembered indoor football feature, FIFA 98 is a game of almost total positives.

Of note to fans of football away from the giants of the game is that being a World Cup year game, it features a comprehensive “Road to World Cup” mode to include those teams involved in the qualifying stages, so you can take your low ranked teams from any confederation and begin the journey to World Cup qualification, and who knows, maybe with the main prize too.

 

4: FIFA World Cup 2014 – (PS3, XBOX 360 : 2014)

 

Following the trend set by FIFA 98 of comprehensive World Cup year games comes FIFA World Cup 2014. It features all 203 teams who participated in World Cup qualifying for the player to choose from. The only absentees are Bhutan, Brunei, Guam, Mauritania, Mauritius and South Sudan who did not enter qualification.

Being the most recent World Cup edition, this is the most recent football sim to feature on this list and as such comes with all the trappings players have come to expect from a modern football game. Excellent graphics, responsive gameplay, online gaming, so if you want a modern platform to try some of the lesser national sides in the world, this is the game for it

 

5: Football Manager 2017 – (PC, Mac, Linux : 2016)

 

A list of football video games without a reference to the world of football management sims would simply feel incomplete. As such, the latest incarnation of the global phenomenon Football Manager series is added to provide the most comprehensive and up to date team listings and player database for any lover of all levels of global football to delve into.

The game itself boats 2,500 world teams with over 500,000 players to choose from. Version improvements include improved AI,  magic spray from referees, sport scientists, data analysts and even topical Brexit scenarios for the 2017 edition. There is no more comprehensive game available today!

 


 

Honorable mentions –

This list does not necessarily reflect the best football simulations, but rather those with a wide selection of teams to choose from so that lesser sides are represented. As such games like Pro Evolution Soccer would certainly have featured with more comprehensive team listings.

Also this does not reflect traditional games like Subbuteo where one team could be Forfar Athletic, Malmo and San Marino all at once!

There are also unofficial mods that have been worked on such as this unreleased non-fifa mobile sim edited by those involved with Fernando De Noronha football, so there maybe more out there to discover 

 

 

If you have any thoughts on this list, feel free to comment or suggest games that you think would make a great addition to this list.

 




Corinthians FIFA Club World Cup 2012

Corinthians FIFA Club World Cup 2012 : Where are they now?

The last non-European winners of the FIFA Club World Cup were Corinthians of Brazil and despite the best efforts of Kashima Antlers against Real Madrid in the 2016 edition, they remain the only non European winners of the previous decade which begs the question, where are those players now?

 


After receiving a bye to the Semi-Finals of the 2012 edition, Corinthians beat Egypt’s Al Ahly 1-0 in a closely contest semi-final, with a 30th minute Paolo Guerrero goal being the difference maker. In the final they met Chelsea who had a relatively more comfortable contest in a 3-1 victory against Monterrey. In the final Guerrero was again to be the difference maker, reaching hero status among the Corinthians faithful and stunning Chelsea to claim their second Club World Cup title. Here we look at the people involved in that historic result.

2012 Club World Cup Final Highlights

 

Corinthians Team:

Coach – 🇧🇷Adenor Leonardo Bacchi “Tite”

Tite was appointed head coach of the Brazil national team in June 2016 following a decorated career in club management in Brazil. Success would come in two spells for Tite, winning the Copa Sudamericana in 2008 with Internacional, making a brief stop in the U.A.E before taking charge of Corinthians, bringing success to the club. Following failure to repeat the success in 2013, Tite took a year away from the game to focus on tactical study, before returning to Corinthians in 2015, once again winning the league title, before taking the Brazil national team job in 2016.

🇵🇪Paolo Guerrero (CF)

Goal scoring hero of Corinthians success, Guerrero had much top level European experience, being a youth product of Bayern Munich and being part of the first team squad for 2 years, followed by a six year stint with Hamburg scoring 37 goals in 134 appearances. He moved to Corinthians in 2012 with Club World Cup success added by a Recopa-Sul Americana win the following year. After failed contract negotiations, Guerrero moved to Flamengo in the Summer of 2015 where he continues to play, along with appearances for the Peruvian national team for whom since debut in 2004, he has 28 goals in 78 appearances.

🇧🇷Paulinho (CM)


Possibly the biggest star to emerge from the victorious side, Paulinho currently plays in China for Guangzhou Evergrande following a €15 million transfer from Tottenham Hotspur in the Summer of 2015. Following early European experience with FC Vilnius and ŁKS Łódź, a return to Brazil re-ignited Paulinho’s career. Moving to Corinthians in 2010, his accomplished play and success on the global stage attracted the attention of the Brazilian national side, and also Tottenham Hotspur who signed him for a fee of €20 million. Despite occasional fine performances, he failed to establish himself as a first team regular and in 2015 moved to China. However his international career was highlighted by winning the Bronze Ball award at the 2013 Confederations Cup behind Neymar and Andrés Iniesta, as Brazil went on to win on home soil.

Paulinho Brazil

Paulinho With Brazil


🇧🇷Danilo (AM)

Often described as one of the greatest Brazilians to never appear for the National side, Danilo was a relative veteran at 33 for Corinthians success. His technical exploits earned him the nickname ‘ZiDanilo’ due to comparisons with the style of play of Zinedine Zidane. Beginning his career at Goiás, he move to play for Sao Paolo with tremendous success, winning the league, Libertadores and Club World Cup trophies with the side. From there he earned a move to Japan with Kashima Antlers, winning three consecutive J-League titles before moving back to Brazil with Corintians were he still plays today.

🇧🇷Jorge Henrique (LW)

A player noted for his impressive dibbling and ball control skills, though often a frustrating player also. This caused a succession of loan moves early in his career before a move to Botafogo in 2007 gave him a platform to display his talents, with his fine form resulting in a move to Corinthians in 2009. However with moves to Internacional in 2013 and Vasco de Gama in 2015, the now 34 year old is showing signs of slowing, though still remains a dynamic threat on the ball.

🇶🇦Emerson (RW)

Now at the end of his career, Emerson has had a remarkably well traveled career with stops in Japan, U.A.E, France and Qatar for whom he was nationalized has has three caps to his name. He has been successful in his travels being player of the year in Japan in 2003, top scorer in 2004 and also player of the year in Qatar in 2006, along with cup success in Japan and the U.A.E. However he had a remarkable run of success in Brazil with three consecutive league titles with three different clubs, Flamengo (2009), Fluminese (2010) and Corinthians in 2011 capped with Club World Cup success in 2012. Making a brief switch to Botofogo in 2014, he returned to Corinthians in 2015 before finally switching back to Flamengo.

🇧🇷Ralf (CM)

Ralf is another player from this list currently plying his trade in China, on the books at Beijing Guoan. Moving between smaller Brazilian clubs early in his career a move to Barueri, and helping them to their first season in Serie A caught the attention of Corinthians, signing him in 2010 for a 5 year stint at the club. His success with Corinthians (including being in the league team of the year in 2011) allowed him to earn 8 caps for Brazil under Manolo Menezes. Following another league success with Corinthians in 2015, Ralf decided to make the switch and play his football in China for the foreseeable future.

🇧🇷Fábio Santos (LB)

Though being a Sao Paolo player from 2003-2008, his early career was dotted with many loan moves including to Japan with Kashima Antlers (2006) and to Europe with Monaco in 2008. Finally earning more regular football with Grêmio following a 2009 move, he was picked up by Corinthians in 2011 as cover for Roberto Carlos. However with his subsequent move to Russia, Fábio Santos became a key first team player playing 116 times for Corinthians between 2011-2015. Despite a promising move to Mexico with Cruz Azul in 2015, a lack of game time in his second season there saw him return to Brazil with current club Atlético Mineiro. Another to benefit from Corinthians success, Fábio Santos earned three Brazil caps in 2012, whilst after a four year gap, recent good form has seen him recalled to the national team for the world cup qualifier against Peru in November 2016 under his former Corinthians coach “Tite”.

🇧🇷Paulo André (CB)

Paulo Andre 2012

Paulo Andre (2012)

Currently on loan at Atlético Paranaense from Cruzeiro, Paulo André was yet another to make a move to China following success with Corinthians in 2014, moving to Shanghai Shenhua. However he had precious experience abroad, moving from Atlético Paranaense to French side Le Mans in 2006. However he spent the last of these years on loan with Corinthians, impressing to earn a permanent move back to Brazil to enjoy first team football. He was included in the league’s 2011 team of the year, alongside club-mate Paulinho, Neymar and Ronaldinho. Following a relatively unsuccessful time in China, he is now back playing in Brazil.

🇧🇷Chicão(CB)

A player who was with Corinthians throughout their return to glory, he signed in 2008, helping them return to the Brazilian top flight. A move to Flamengo added a second Brazilian Cup to his trophy collection. Following a brief move to the Indian Super League with the Dehli Dynamos in 2015, Chicão decided to retire from the game, feeling that he was no longer physically able to play at the required level. However he harbors hopes of returning to Corinthians, perhaps in a coaching role with the club where he had his greatest success.

🇧🇷Alessandro (RB) (c)

Veteran of the 2012 winning team, Alessandro began his career with Flamengo, winning a Brazilian Cup in 2001. He attracted the attention of clubs in Europe, including Dynamo Kiev who signed him in 2003 for an ill fated move. Struggling to adapt and break into the first team, her returned to Brazil for loan spells with Cruzeiro and Grêmio. Finally being transferred to Santos in 2007, he then switched to Corinthians where he would stay until the end of his career in 2013.

🇧🇷Cássio (GK)

Goalkeeper in the final, Cássio had moved to Europe as a twenty-two year old in 2007 to sign for PSV Eindhoven, though would only play mostly in the reserve, save for three first team appearances. He moved to Corinthians in 2012 and proved pivotal in their Club World Cup success, being named player of the tournament ahead of Chelsea player and compatriot David Luiz. He has remained at Corinthians, adding a 2015 league title to the success of 2012/2013.

 

Though the success of this side was a landmark achievement for Brazilian, South American and generally non-European football, fears grow for the gulf between teams in intercontinental competition as this gap in quality seems to. the efforts of Kashima Antlers give teams around the world hope moving into the future, whilst all can point to the success of the 2012 Corinthians side as proof of what can be achieved, as their legacy lives on for all to follow.

 




Burkina Faso Pitch Logo

Burkina Faso Football – 2013 & Beyond : Throwback Tuesday

The 2013 Africa cup of nations was a competition full of the predictable and surprises in equal measures. Egypt, champions in 2006, 2008 and 2010, failed to qualify once again, losing to the Central African Republic in qualifiers. Cote d’Ivoire with the star lineup featuring Didier Drogba and the Touré brothers continued to flatter to deceive, for the time being at least. While Nigeria represented the heavyweights well in their strong showing en route to the final, this was a tournament where outsiders captured the imagination of the viewing public.

 


The small island nation of Cape Verde shocked by coming undefeated through their group, advancing with South Africa, but ahead of Angola and former champions in Morocco. Though their run was to be ended in the next round, another outsider, Burkina Faso, was to advance much further. Burkina Faso impressed by topping their Group C table, undefeated, advancing ahead of Nigeria in top spot, whilst also eliminating defending champions Zambia in the process.

Mbombela Stadium Arena

Mbombela Stadium (ZA)


A battle of the outsiders ensued in the quarter finals as Togo and Emmanuel Adebayor provided the opposition for Burkina Faso. On a difficult, heavily sanded pitch, the tight game went to extra time where it was decided after 115 minutes from a corner set-piece as Jonathan Pitroipa’s header ricocheted down off the crossbar just over the line to provide the decisive goal in the contest. Speaking after the game, The BBC reported Burkina Faso’s coach Paul Put’s joy and optimism at the result. –

“It’s a dream come true. We were just happy to get to the last eight – that’s a result for Burkina Faso… “But I told my players we have a chance to go even further and qualify for the semis and I’m so happy they did it.”

 

The dream semi-final tie was reached as Burkina Faso met Ghana, still riding the wave of their excellent showing in the 2010 World Cup, though looking to return to the final in Johannesburg to avenge their Soccer City elimination from Uruguay at that tournament. Burkina Faso though, had no thoughts of letting their dream run end just yet…

 

In a tight game many, such as the BBC questioned some dubious refereeing decisions from official Slim Jedidi. Burkina Faso had to overcome a controversially awarded Ghana penalty, whilst being denied several appeals of their own. They also had a goal disallowed from Nakoulma and hero from the quarter-final Pitroipa controversially sent off. Once again on tricky sandy pitch conditions, Ghana struggled to get their fluid passing game going, whilst Burkina Faso, having become accustomed to the pitch in their previous games were always in contention.  

 

However, as both sides ran down the clock through extra tie, penalties were needed. In a tense shootout, the Burkinabe were best able to hold their nerve with Daouda Diakité making the crucial to send Burkina Faso to the final and fans into delirium! Burkina Faso captain Charles Kabore was happy to let the controversial incidents of the game and embrace the joy of his teams success.

The referee is human, all humans make mistakes, but he happened to make too many tonight.”… “But we’re not going to dwell on that. We’ve qualified.”

 

The dream of victory however would not be realized as earlier group rivals Nigeria came back to defeat them 1-0 in the final, with the Burkina Faso players starting to show fatigue from back to back 120+ minute games. Despite the defeat, this tournament was Burkina Faso’s finest moment and with key players such as player of the tournament Jonathan Pitroipa and captain Charles Kaboré still in their prime, the side still retains quality.

 

Though the remaining qualifying fixtures are not due to be played until a 2 month period from August 2017, they will be fixture to be marked in the calendar and not to be missed Burkina Faso look to create a little more footballing history for the team from West Africa.




Norbert Meier Photo

Norbert Meier : Coach Profile

Following a decorated playing career, playing under mentor Otto Rehhagel at Weder Bremen, the transition from playing to coaching seem inevitable for Norbert Meier.

Meier enjoyed great success as a player in the 1980’s as a fixture of great Werder Bremen sides under the guidance of Otto Rehhagel. Come the beginning of the 90’s, Meier was to retire from playing professional football to also try his hand at coaching. Having hung up his boots, Meier set about perusing a career in management which would at times be filled with drama and excitement through all manner of levels in German football.

First Bundesliga Experience?Move to DuisburgLater-Bielefeld/Darmstadt

 

Transition to Coaching

Meier first made the transition having finished his playing career at Borussia Möchengladbach in 1993, he took up a position coaching in the ‘Gladbach youth setup. Cutting his teeth in coaching with the Borussia Möchengladbach youth (A-Jugend,u-19) side from the 92/93 season onwards, Meier continued to show his leadership skills off the pitch that he had previously shown on it. Speaking of the transition from playing to coaching, Meier would later say. “It was certainly clear at some point that I would like to stay in football, as I had too many beautiful moments in my playing days. So over time I tried to complete my coaching badges”

He was to spend four years coaching the u-19 side, and though his first role in coaching, he immediately adapted to the transition from playing to coaching well. In his first season he hit the ground running by leading his ‘Gladbach side to third in the table. To prove this was not a one season fluke, in the 1993/94 season he improved ‘Gladbach’s position one better to second place in the league, seven points back but only missing out to a Bayer Uerdingen side who would make it to the semi-finals of the national championship. Though 1994/95 season would see ‘Gladbach slip to third in the table, the gap to again champions Uerdingen was cut to only two points.

Meier also increased the sides goal tally year on year as ‘Gladbach would finish the season as comfortably top scorers in the league with 90 goals as the side adopted an energetic attacking style in the mould of what Meier himself showed in his playing career. His time with the u-19 side culminated in winning their Niederrhein league in the 1995/96 season by 14 points from Uerdingen, conceding a mere 11 goals in the campaign, half the total of the next best defense in the league which qualified them for the national finals. However here they were to lose to western rivals Borussia Dortmund, with a 1-1 draw in the second leg not enough to overturn a 2-1 first leg home defeat, to bow out of the competition at the quarter final stage.

This relative success earned Meier a promotion to take charge of Borussia Möchengladbach II, the u-23 reserve side of the Bundesliga outfit. His first season in charge brought immediate success, winning the 1996/97 5th tier Verbandsliga Niederrhein in impressive fashion by finishing five points clear at the top, while also scoring the most goals and having the second best defense in the league. By this time Meier was beginning to recognise the physical demands on coaching that he thought he’d left behind in his playing days. “As a player it is mainly physical activity, but as a coach you are also flat following a day on the training ground, I am moving around all the time out there”. Aside from his physical attributes, it was now his coaching ability that was beginning to show real promise.

This was ‘Gladbach-II’s first promotion and league title success since winning the 1979/80 6th tier Landesliga Niederrhein (group 2), some 17 years earlier. Their league victory success was backed up by adding victory in the regional Niederrhein Cup with a 5-4 victory on penalties over Rot-Weiß Oberhausen. This cup victory had the added bonus of qualifying the side for the following season’s German cup.

Not content with merely establishing their presence at the 4th tier Oberliga level, Meier set about making ‘Gladbach II as competitive as possible by playing pragmatic but effective football. This tactic would pay dividends as Meier’s side finished in an exceptional fourth place in the table, their first season at the Oberliga level. Meier also made his coaching debut in the DFB Pokal giving Bundesliga side Stuttgart a real scare before succumbing to a respectable 1-0 defeat.

Though the sides scoring rate remained respectable throughout the season, their impressive form was built on the back of a solid well organized defense, one that only conceded 23 goals throughout the league season which was only bettered by champions Leverkusen II and was seven better than any other side in the league. This newfound measured approach to a playing style for his sides marked a sharp contrast to the style in which Meier had himself played in his heyday with Werder Bremen where he was known as a dynamic and spectacular dribbler and all round eye catching offensive presence.

However Meier would have to miss a large part of the reserve side’s campaign as he was called up for more important duty by the club. With the Borussia Möchengladbach senior side struggling in the Bundesliga, Hannes Bongartz was removed as head coach leaving a vacancy that Norbert Meier was asked to fill with ‘Gladbach in a precarious position, being kept out of the relegation zone only by goal difference.

First Bundesliga Experience


His first experience in charge of a Bundesliga club was a relative struggle for the not yet 40 year old coach. In his 11 games in charge he recorded just two wins before being moved aside for Friedel Rausch to take over with ‘Gladbach three points from safety to conclude the record shortest reign of a ‘Gladbach coach in the Bundesliga. However they would eventually avoid relegation on goal difference from Karlsruhe come seasons end, somewhat helped by Meier’s final win in charge, a 5-2 win away to Karlsruhe.

Meier returned to take charge of the of the reserve side for the 1998/99 season in what would be a relatively turbulent season compared to the stability that the side experienced in the previous season. Despite coming out of the blocks quickly, rising as high as second in the early going, ‘Gladbach experienced a serious slump in form which left them briefly teetering on the edge of the relegation zone before a turnaround sparked by back to back mid season high scoring 4-0 and 5-0 wins over SuS 09 Dinslaken and Fortuna Düsseldorf ‘II’ respectively to help eventually finish a comfortable seventh.

The 1999/00 season would mark the high point of where Meier would take his ‘Gladbach II side. They narrowly missed out on another cup success with a great run to the final of the Niederrhein Pokal, before losing a closely fought 1-0 loss after extra time to Wuppertaler SV. They would also have an impressive league campaign, ultimately finishing third behind the champions, the aforementioned Wuppertaler, and just two points away from Preußen Köln in second.

The standout result of that league campaign was a remarkable 11-0 win at home to Germania Teveren with Andriy Voronin scoring five. Voronin, who would come to be the top scorer in the Bundesliga in 2002/03, was a player who Meier had favored since taking charge of the reserve side such that he gave Voronin his first team Bundesliga games when Meier was briefly in charge of the senior side. However Voronin was to leave for Mainz at the end of the 1999/00 season as the side’s top scorer.

Without Voronin’s goals ‘Gladbach struggled for form, though the pattern of the season bared similarities to previous seasons. Starting with an opening day win, a slump in form occurred which they began to recover from by mid season to eventually finish in comfortable mid-table eighth place. With the side having slipped into a familiar pattern of league finishes, Meier was to depart at the end of the season to pastures new. His final victory as ‘Gladbach II coach came on the penultimate game of the season in a 6-0 victory at home to TSC Euskirchen. His final game as coach was to be a 2-1 loss away to Bayer Leverkusen II, ironic as it was Leverkusen where Meier would find himself for the following season to join their youth coaching setup.

Having been with Borussia Möchengladbach since joining the club as a player at the beginning of 1990, Meier had spent over eleven years at the club as both a player and coach of the u-19, reserve and senior sides. As such it was quite a change of scenery for Meier when he accepted an offer to take over as coach of the Bayer Leverkusen B-Jugend (u-17) side for the 2001/02 B-Jugend Regionalliga West season. In this first season Meier was able to rely on his previous experience in youth coaching to bring good performances from his new side, beginning with a 3-0 opening day victory against FC Koln (u-17).

Meier was able to produce consistent good results from his side throughout the season to finally finish a satisfactory fourth in the league. As was becoming Meier’s trademark, the solid defensive setup employed by Meier would leave his side with a total of 27 goals conceded, a number bettered only by league champions Schalke 04 (u-17). This was helped in no small part to the presence in the side of future German National goalkeeper René Adler, who was learning his trade in the Leverkusen youth ranks along with Fabian Hergesell who would later play under Meier at Fortuna Düsseldorf.

Building on this promising start, the 2002/03 season promised to be even better as Meier’s side topped the table in the early weeks of the season before briefly returning to the top after game-week nine. The side entered the Christmas break in a very competitive second place in the table; however this was when Meier was to leave the club having been tempted by an offer to return to senior management as an opportunity at MSV Duisburg became available.  Without Meier, the Leverkusen u-17 side ultimately finished second in the league to qualify for the national finals, where after beating Hannover they were defeated by eventual champions Hertha Berlin in the semi-finals, with a side still very much in the mould of Meier.

Move to Duisburg


Taking the role of coach at Duisburg was to be Meier’s big break in the world of professional management. Meier had missed the opportunity to coach against Duisburg during his brief stint in the Bundesliga in 1998 as he was released just two weeks before the due fixture. That season Duisburg, in contrast to Meier’s Möchengladbach side were riding high as they finished eighth in the league, finished runners up in the cup and had qualified for European football.

However since then, they had endured a disastrous Bundesliga campaign in 1999/2000 where they finished 16 points away from safety to see them relegated to the 2.Bundesliga. The situation saw Duisburg use seven full time and interim coaches in a three year time frame between early 2000 and early 2003 in an attempt to stop the slide and win back promotion to the Bundesliga. This presented a challenging set of circumstances and requirements to take on when were presented as the new coach in January 2003.

Meier’s first half season at Duisburg was a period of becoming familiar with the club and assessing what was needed for the club to return back to the top flight. Meier took over with the club settled in mid-table in a situation that the club would find themselves in come seasons end, ultimately finishing 8th following a run of inconsistent results.

In his first off season Meier immediately set about a making a raft of changes to build what he believed would be a side that could challenge for promotion. However in his first full season, his Duisburg only saw minor improvement at Duisburg gained a mere two extra points which was enough for a move to seventh in the league, the main positive being an improvement to a positive goal difference of +6 by.

There was a breakthrough in following season where a major improvement saw Duisburg win promotion back to the Bundesliga, impressively finishing in second place. Their return to the Bundesliga would be short lived as would Meier’s future at the club. Duisburg struggled to make the leap in standard to the Bundesliga, though it would be on incident in particular that would spell the end for Meier with his time in charge.

During a crucial bottom of the table clash with FC Koln, Meier became involved in an altercation with Koln player Albert Streit. Both stood head to head on the touchline when, after Meier made contact with a minor head butt, both players suddenly fell to the ground. For his actions Meier left Duisburg on December 8th and was subsequently banned on December 15th for three months by the German FA.

Some in the league felt the punishment was too harsh and came to defend Meier including FC Bayern coach Felix Magath who spoke highly of Meier’s character. “I do not know whether any sanction will be truly proportionate. We need a new scale. Norbert Meier is a nice guy, he does not deserve this. In the aftermath Duisburg would finish the season bottom of the table while Meier would look to pastures new, this time with a new perspective on his career and on winning. “That was with no ifs and buts, the darkest hour of my football experience. But I’ve learned a lot from it, I still want to win, but not at any price”.

Despite the controversy around the incident, Meier has since been able to look back at it with a sense of his typical dry humour saying that if he was invited to ride on a float at the local carnival, he would “dress up as a soldier with a bloody bandage around his head”. This positive response has held him in good stead as his career progressed. Upon signing later for Düsseldorf, Wolf Werner remarked that Meier “arrived with good vitality, carrying the taint of Duisburg well” This is the mark of a man committed to not making one incident mark his career but rather his successes in the game.

Meier was unable to secure a position at a new club in time for the start of the 2006/07 season. However he would not have to wait too long after as by week seven of the season, Dynamo Dresden’s coach Peter Pacult was tempted away to coach his hometown club Rapid Vienna. Pacult had joined the club midway through the previous season in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to keep Dresden in the 2.Bundesliga. Pacult made an impressive start to the season with his seven games in charge however the chance to return to Vienna to coach was too tempting to turn down which opened the door for Meier to take the reins at the club.

Although Meier’s tenure at Dresden would ultimately be disappointing, it had started on a positive note which promised much for his future at the club. In his first game in charge as coach, Dresden won 2-1 at home to Magdeburg with a Vorbeck brace to put the Saxony side top of the Regionalliga Nord table. However,  their impressive start to the season would not continue as results began to become more inconsistent, in particular a run either side of the winter break of one win from six games which dented their promotion challenge.

Dresden entered December sitting a single point away from top spot in the table. However following their relatively baron period, only highlighted by a win against Meier’s former ‘Gladbach II side, Dresden would sit in seventh place by the end of February, now just a single point ahead of 12th place in a closely contested season. Despite showing positive signs in the early running, seventh place would be a serious disappointment to Dynamo Dresden who had high hopes of an immediate return to the 2.Bundesliga.

This missed opportunity was given added pressure as the DFB announced for the following season the creation of a new national 3.Liga for the 2008/09 season, thus a poor season would result in Dresden becoming a fourth tier side. The promotion system for the season saw the top two sides rise to the 2.Bundesliga with places 3-10 entering the new 3.Liga.

However a poor start to the season which saw Dresden win just once in their opening five games left the Saxony side playing catch-up. A brief revival in the early running saw Dresden move as high as seventh. However, this was still below the level of progress that Dynamo had hoped for such that on week ten of the season, Meier was released by the club following a 2-1 defeat to Kickers Emden which left Dresden in 11th, outside the crucial 3.Liga places.

Though his time at Dresden can be considered the low point in Meier’s career, it would serve as the catalyst as the beginning of the most successful period of his coaching career. At the midway point in the season, Fortuna Düsseldorf sacked their coach, the former East German international Uwe Weidemann who while keeping the side in the top three places in the league had lost the confidence of the club director following a run of two wins from eight.

Success at Dusseldorf

Meier immediately settled into a more successful run of form with Düsseldorf, just missing out on promotion to the 2.Bundesliga on the final day of the season, ultimately finishing in third place. Despite not achieving promotion, Düsseldorf entered the inaugural 2008/09 3.Liga season among the favorites for promotion. This was expectation that they duly delivered on as they narrowly managed to secure a second place finish which would return the club to the 2.Bundesliga. The deciding game came against the Werder Bremen II side, which made the occasion very special for Meier.

“The promotion against Bremen II with everything attached to them was an absolute highlight of my career. I have experienced with Werder and ‘Gladbach much but this was something special, a unique experience that I will always remember”.

This was not to be his only great success with the club.

This promotion was achieved mainly through an end of season run which saw Meier’s side lose just one of their final eleven games to narrowly clinch second spot. This first win of this run came away to Bayern München II with a last minute winner which kept Düsseldorf within three points of the automatic promotion places. The successful promotion and the good run of form shown allowed Meier to have a rare relaxed off season before the start of their return to the 2.Bundesliga. “My wife and I spent two weeks in Spain. For the first time in years, I have managed to read a 585 page book from cover to cover”. However club business was still a priority. “There was constant contact. I was not always on the phone but spoke on agreed upon times”. Aside from reading, Meier also enjoys listening to music with favorite groups ranging from Supertramp to local Hamburg duo The Disco Boys.

Their first season back in the 2.Bundesliga almost brought back to back promotions as Düsseldorf just missed out on a place in the top flight by finishing in fourth place, a remarkable achievement in their first season back in the second tier. All the more remarkable was their home form as they finished the season as the only club in the three professional league to go undefeated at home throughout the entire season. This exemplified a new, more pragmatic approach that Meier was taking to the game. “We are certainly not playing nonstop attacking football because we don’t necessarily have to win every game. The team is to fight for every ball and give it their best”. This was exemplified by a defensive record that was only bettered by league champions FC Kaiserslautern.

Despite seeming to have acquitted them to playing at a higher league quite well, the following 2010/11 season would provide a harsh dose of reality for Meier and his squad. Despite harboring aspirations of again challenging for promotion, these hopes were quickly dashed as the league season began. Düsseldorf proceeded to lose their first six games of the season to leave them bottom of the table with no points, some thirteen away from the promotion places though Meier’s attention had shifted to avoiding a relegation battle.

Meier was able to rally his troops to finish in what eventually turned out to be a highly satisfying seventh place finish, which although fell well short of preseason expectations was enough to secure the boards backing of their coach. This came on the back of Meier displaying his ability to come through adversity which included not winning a game until a hard fought 3-2 away win at Osnabruck in October, this in itself came on the back of six losses. Düsseldorf would go from here to only lose six games between November and the end of the season, the high point being a league best 6-0 home win to FSV Frankfurt at the end of January.

This stark turnaround in form would provide the catalyst for success at Düsseldorf as in the 2011/2012 season they won promotion via the playoffs to make a return to the Bundesliga for the first time since the 1996/97 season, having dropped as low as the forth tier Oberliga in the intervening years. This was also to be Meier’s third spell coaching in the Bundesliga following his brief tenure at Möchengladbach and his first since his eventful short spell in the league with Duisburg in 2005.

The season would prove to be a cliffhanger as Düsseldorf would finish the season ahead of St. Pauli in third place despite being level on points, but with goal difference coming into the equation to leave Düsseldorf in the promotion playoff spot. The final day of the season was fraught with tension as Düsseldorf met Meier’s old side Duisburg knowing a win would guarantee promotion, a loss would hand the advantage to St.Pauli while a draw would leave goal difference to decide the final placings.

Despite St.Pauli winning 5-0, Düsseldorf’s 2-2 with Duisburg was enough to see them clinch the promotion playoff spot, setting up an emotional tie against Hertha Berlin coached by Meier’s former coach at Werder Bremen, Otto Rehhagel. Although the two did not always see eye to eye in Bremen, Meier notes a similarity between Rehhagel who described himself as a ‘democratic dictator ‘while Meier see himself as more of a ‘diplomatic dictator’.

Having played under Rehhagel for many years, the style of play had left a mark on Meier. However Meier is aware of the different demands on a modern coach that he now faces.”Communication is important. The days when you can just slap are over. The guys need constructive support. The point is to identify ways that lead to improvement”. It is not just the performance on the pitch that Meier is concerned about, but also the mentality of his players. “The troops must be convinced of me and that I can return their faith. Of course good order and discipline on and off the pitch must be there Just because you earn the recognition of others, you still have to manage things like social behavior off the pitch”. However you cannot work on all fronts”.  However Meier did once quip to the media that he makes sure to sing a lullaby to each of his players to help the rest before a game.

In the battle of master versus student, the stage was set for one of the most intensely charged atmospheres as Meier’s Düsseldorf travelled to the capital to face the city’s top side Hertha Berlin in the first game of what would become one of the most controversial two legged affairs in recent seasons.  The first leg was edged by Meier’s Düsseldorf side 2-1 in a very closely contested affair, though there was a small crowd disturbance with regards to flairs being set off in a small section of the Düsseldorf Crowd.

Crowd disturbances would go on to dominate discussions about the second leg result. Düsseldorf took a two goal lead on aggregate after 59 minutes which prompted a barrage of flares to be thrown onto the pitch. This heralded Meier’s third term as a coach in the Bundesliga though he felt that some of the shine was taken off the achievement by the aftermath of the play-off games. “Getting promoted usually causes a euphoria which lasts for several days and one has to experience this euphoria to understand the implications of getting promoted. All that was lost at the end of the season, it really was a pity especially if you consider all those years that Fortuna has spent outside the Bundesliga in recent years”

However following the euphoria of promotion in the previous season, the 2012/13 season would end in disappointment. Meier was clear on his goals about what was to be achieved on the sides return to the Bundesliga. When quizzed if avoiding relegation was his only target for the season, Meier responded “There is nothing else to it. It is all about how success is defined. Success is something entirely different to us than Borussia Dortmund or Bayern München”. Ultimately this is how his season would be judged by club directors. In an attempt to help boost the quality of squad, Meier made 16 new signings which he defended by saying “Every player must be an absolute appropriate replacement.”

Düsseldorf made a promising start to the season, but would only be able to rack up nine points in the second half of the season, though Meier was acutely aware how difficult the return to the Bundesliga would be. “If you are playing for Düsseldorf then you are supported by not a few hundred, but thousands of fans. Every opponent will be full throttle against Düsseldorf which is a particular challenge. Just because we play in a great stadium, we are not given points. We have to work hard from them”

Entering the final day of the season Düsseldorf was clear of the relegation zone on goal difference. However a final day loss coupled for wins for relegation rivals Augsburg and a surprise win for Hoffenheim over Dortmund left Düsseldorf suffering direct relegation after just one season in the top flight. The relegation came in the face of problems in the dressing room as players spoke out against their coach with Nando Rafael saying “from Meier I have learned nothing” while Andrey Voronin added “Meier is not a Bundesliga coach”. Despite the disappointment of relegation on the first attempt, Meier always felt he had the support of the vast majority of his players and the Fortuna fans. “I had never heard ‘Meier Out’. What I did get was people saying ‘thank you’. Fortuna’s fans recognize what I feasible and what is not”.

Despite appearing to be preparing a plan for a preseason with the club, rumors began to circulate of a rift between Meier and the board of directors in Düsseldorf. Despite Meier’s popularity amongst fans and his apparent desire to continue on as coach, CEO Peter Frymuth announced a separation by mutual consent just one week following the relegation. This came as a surprise to many Düsseldorf supporters, who had set about organizing a ‘Fortuna says thanks’ t-shirt campaign. Meier himself is noted for his casual fashion choice on the sideline “Everyone should wear what the feel comfortable in, I prefer jeans, shirt, done! That said I know what suits me!”

However sporting director Wolf Werner did acknowledge the impact that Meier had on the club during his tenure there. “We have played with Norbert Meier a successful path from the third division to the Bundesliga. The sporting rise of Fortuna will therefore remain strongly associated with his name” Despite the sadness of leaving the club, Meier still was able to take the positives from it.

“I have dedicated myself to things for which I have never had so much time [though] I did not deliberately wait for a new club. There must always be something that interests me”

Later career – Bielefeld / Darmnstadt


Upon finishing his time in Düsseldorf, Meier took the opportunity to pass on coaching offers from as far away as Turkish Superliga side Besiktas, to take a break from coaching. Meier though could not keep himself away from the game from too long as he said “so slowly the fingers begin to itch again”, such that he took up an offer in February 2014 to take over the vacant position at relegation threatened 2.Bundesliga side Arminia Bielefeld. This was a great task that Meier was all too aware of. “Normally you have as a coach two months in the summer [to prepare], but we did not. We have three days until the first game with me”. Meier’s first game would be an emotional reunion in a meeting with Düsseldorf, though this would ultimately end in defeat. In the remaining two months of the season, Meier saw Arminia to the temporary safety of a relegation play-off place following a thrilling final day 3-2 win away to fellow relegation strugglers and Meier’s former side Dynamo Dresden.

This safety would prove to be only a brief respite as the rollercoaster would continue with a two legged relegation play-off with 3.Liga side SV Darmstadt. A 3-1 first leg away win was overturned in dramatic fashion in Bielefeld as Darmstadt leveled the tie with a reverse score line to make it 4-4 on aggregate and force extra time. Despite Bielefeld taking the lead in extra time, Darmstadt, long since looking the better side scored a stoppage time equalizer to lead on away goals. Bielefeld would muster one final attack, hitting the post in the process but it was to be not enough as Darmstadt were victorious leaving Meier to face his second successive relegation as Arminia fell to the 3.Liga for the 2014/15 season.

However in the off season Arminia showed faith in their new appointment by sticking with Meier for the following 3.Liga season. Despite somewhat of a relegation hangover in the early season which included a 5-1 loss at home to Hallescher FC, Meier has steadied the ship at Arminia with the side at the time of writing within sight of the top of the table. This resulted in a successful return to the 2.Bundesliga for Arminia where Meier steady progress continued as Arminia beat the drop to secure provide long awaited stability in the 2.Bundesliga for the club.

His achievements here were noticed but Bundesliga side and one time 2/3 liga relegation foe, Darmstadt SV. However after only three wins from fifteen games in the first half of the season, including a shock cup exit to 4th tier Astoria Walldorf of the Regionalliga Südwest, Meier left the club after only half a season in December 2016.

Looking to the future Meier looks set to continue to be involved in coaching for the foreseeable future, though while at Düsseldorf he did give a clue to his long term future in the game. “I can think of imagining much. However for me, my job on the sidelines is still great fun and I am 52 years old, the best coaching age, but maybe one day I’ll actually desire a change. Our Fortuna sporting director Wolf Werner I see as being a good role model”. Meier though is not one who lives too strongly with regrets of missed opportunities in the past. “One should always be satisfied with what you have achieved as there will always be those who achieve more”.

Throughout the career ups and downs which have taken him all over the country coaching, Meier is always firmly aware of his roots. “I lived over 22 years in the Rhineland but I am always happy to be confronted with my past. Recently I was listening to WDR because they had an old teammate from my previous club Voran Ohe. I could quickly remember that he was left footed, Of course, he was thrilled!” He is also fond of his regular visits back to the north of the country. “Home is something that never leaves you. We always spend every Christmas with my wife’s family in Geesthacht. Then we visit my parents. I also still have contact with my former teammates including Deiter Schlottmann”.

Meier also enjoys now a settled family having reunited after a brief separation with his long term wife of 31 years Sieglinde with the couple having moved back together in their home Viersen-Dülken midway between Düsseldorf and the Dutch border.  With Sieglinde, Meier has two children in a daughter, Laura and a son Florian. Meier can now also claim to be a grandfather. “I also have a grandchild that I can see growing and can notice something new every week. Such a thing is beautiful”. Having such a grounded life and approach to it is something which seems to have help Meier cope with the stresses of modern coaching.

Despite what has been a roller-coaster career in football so far, Meier remains a football romantic at heart.

“There are wonderful stories written in football. The drama of the events can never be guessed ahead”




Norbert Meier Photo

Norbert Meier : Player Profile

Norbert Meier is currently one of the most recognisable faces active in German
football today. This has come on the back of a successful playing career most notably as part
of the great Werder Bremen sides of the 1980’s. He has followed this up with a coaching career which has been filled a wide range of joy, disappointment and even occasional controversy. The drama that Meier has been a part of in recent years and decades has made him an important part of the fabric of German in recent times.

Meier was born on the 20th of September 1958 in Reinbek, a suburb to the east of Hamburg living in the Eichenbusch area of the town. Though born in Reinbek Meier simply claims to be from the region as a whole without any particular ties to one area, “Of course I am a native of Schleswig-Holstein, but in football I have always had more to do with Hamburg. Clearly Hamburg was my youth but I feel like a North German”. His football identity was certainly shaped by Hamburg and its big clubs. “As a teenager I was in the [HSV] Volksparkstadion and also at St. Pauli. Both clubs were always special”. However there can be no doubt as to how his hometown played a part in shaping his future to come.

It was in Reinbek that Meier made an early start to his football career by joining his local side TSV Reinbek’s youth setup at just six years of age. This is the same club which counts current German international Max Kruse among its former youth players. Meier would spend six years at the club from 1964 to 1970. It was during these formative years that Meier was influenced by club legend Jürgen Krienke who had just finished his playing career and had taken up a role as a youth director at the club. In 1970 Meier moved to play for the youth team of FC Voran Ohe though this was only for one year. In 1971 Meier again moved, this time for what would be the majority of his teenage years to Vfl Lohbrügge until 1975. It was at Lohbrügge that his developing promise and talent attracted the attention of scouts from St. Pauli where he finished his youth career.

 

 

Meier would spend two years in the youth ranks of St.Pauli. The first of these Meier would spend in the B-jugend u-17 side though he would progress from this after one season. In the second of these seasons, Meier was part of the St.Pauli A-jugend u-19 side which won the Hamburg championship. This success resulted in qualification for the national playoff series. In the round of sixteen, St.Pauli played SV Mehring with the first away leg ending in a 1-1 draw in front of 3,500 spectators. However this is far as they would progress as St.Pauli were eliminated 12-3 on aggregate by Schalke in the quarter finals.

 

Meier’s break into senior football came when he moved back to the suburbs to play for ASV Bergedorf, nicknamed ‘The Magpies’ in the summer of 1977 as an 18 year old. This not only meant a step up in quality but also an increase in expectation excitement as the club features a strong support base. “”There were always at least 1,000 spectators. I think every amateur club today would rub his hands if they had as many supporters as we did” remembers Meier.  Over the course of a three year stint at the club Meier continued to develop on the potential he had shown at youth level, particularly under the guidance of former Hamburg player Peter Rohrschneide who took charge of the side in 1979. Meier describes his time in a positive light saying, “Bergedorf 85 was a wonderful springboard” acknowledging how important the club was in his development.

 

In his first season at ASV Bergedorf in 1977/78 campaign, Meier would quickly experience success as the side won the 4th tier verbandsliga-Hamburg by a single point. However the side would miss out in the post season promotion round to remain at the 4th tier of German football. The side would just fall short in the following season, this time missing out on the title by one point to VFL Stade. The 1979/80 season would be Meier’s final season at Bergedorf and though successful, it would end in another near miss for the club. Bergedorf would finish second in the league two points behind Hummelsbüttler SV, a side who would win promotion in the post season promotion playoffs. It was in these playoffs that Meier would play his final competitive game for the club.

 

In the promotion playoffs, Bergedorf were put in Nord-Gruppe A (North group A), a four team group with TuS Celle, VfR Neumünster and Lüneburger SK. Lüneburger SK would enter the final game on seven points ahead of Bergedorf who sat on six, leaving it all to play for in the final game of the group to be played in Bergedorf. The Sander Tannen stadium in Bergedorf was packed to capacity, with over 10,000 spectators in attendance. It was a fiercely contested game which remained 0-0 until the final minute, upon which a dash of controversy was injected into the game.

 

In the 90th minute, Meier had control of the ball in the opposition box when he appeared to be fouled by a Lüneburger defender. The appeal was waved away by the referee, Hans-Joachim Osmers from Bremen to a chorus of frantic shouts from the home players and supporters. In the midst of the chaos, Lüneburg broke quickly to score a goal on a counter attack through Karsten Wagner to break Bergedorfer hearts in the final act of the game. After the final whistle, the referee was left bleeding during a small riot at the stadium.

 

It is even believed that even Meier’s father came to hit the referee with his umbrella during the mêlée, which the newspaper Bild described as ‘The Football of Bergedorf’. Referee Osmers would later be famous for awarding a ‘phantom’ goal to FC Bayern’s Thomas Helmer vs. Nurnberg in the Bundesliga in 1994 which cause that game to be replayed, though Bergedorf were to have no second chance on this occasion.  Despite the disappointment of missing promotion, Meier himself had been a highlight of the side throughout the season with a number of excellent displays.

 

These good performances led to some of Germany’s top clubs taking an interest in Meier, firstly with a week’s trial with Hamburg in 1980. Though Meier was not kept on afterwards, he is aware of the stage of his career he was in at that point. “There is no resentment on my part. Let’s not forget: The HSV was then a club that has set standards. I was never angry, this was a team that later won the European cup”. Speaking on why so many players from the local area did not eventually play for Hamburg like himself, Meier said “If you want to look positively, you can call it coincidence. Maybe clubs don’t look so closely on their own front door”.

 

Following this, further interest in Meier came from Rudi Assauer, the then general manager at Werder Bremen. Assauer gave Meier the opportunity of having a trial with Werder though things did not always go as Meier had wished. Meier remembers despite scoring two own goals in a training game “but I have also made three!”, as Meier was finding his feet at the higher level.

 

Bundesliga Debut

Despite the eventful trials it was Werder Bremen, then of the 2.Bundesliga Nord which signed Meier to his first professional contract in the summer of 1980. His debut came in a pre-season intertoto game against Lillestrom where he scored in a 2-1 win. In the league, Meier adapted to the step up to professional football scoring an impressive 16 goals in 39 appearances. This helped Werder return to the Bundesliga by winning the league, 3 points clear of Braunschweig in what was the final season of the regional 2.Bundesliga format.

 

His coach in this first season in Bremen was Kuno Klötzer who had just three years previously led Hamburg to the Uefa Cup Winners Cup. However Klötzer was forced to leave his position before the end of the season due to injuries sustained in a car accident, though he would coach again with Duisburg the following season. His replacement proved crucial in the development of both Werder and Meier as Otto Rehhagel, who was to become legendary at the club took over for the remaining games of the season following a previous brief stint in charge with Bremen in 1976.

 

It was all change for Meier in 1981/82 including a step up standard to the Bundesliga and a change in coach as Rehhagel took charge of his first full season at the club. The club and Meier defied expectations by achieving immediate success in the top flight as Werder finished 5th, a mere six points away from the title but good enough to qualify for the Uefa Cup. This was a campaign, which was highlighted by wins against FC Bayern München and eventual champion Hamburg.

 

This was also the season where Meier as part of three appearances for the Germany ‘B’ team, would first represent his country. His debut for the side came in September 1981 in a B International against Poland at Czestochowa, winning 1-0 in a game that would feature future teammates in the German senior side such as Lothar Matthaus. Later that month he would again play 90 minutes as Germany ‘B’ would win 1-0 away against the full senior side of Luxembourg in a venue he would have notable personal success later for the senior side. His final B team appearance came in mid February of the following year in a substitute appearance in a 1-0 win in Mannaheim against Portugal ‘B’. Having adapted well to the international setup, his next appearance in national team colours would be for the senior side later that year.

 

However there were occasional teething troubles during this season, most notably a record 9-2 league defeated for Werder coming against Eintracht Frankfurt. Meier had put Werder 1-0 in the game but the flood of goals that came against them proved to be a harsh but important lesson in the development of the team as a consistently competitive top-flight side. However on a personal level, Meier adapted quickly to this higher level of football by continuing his great form from the previous season by scoring 15 goals in his maiden Bundesliga campaign, equal 8th overall in the scoring charts.

 

In the following 82/83 league campaign, Bremen missed out on completing their stunning rise back to the top of German football as they missed out on the title on goal difference to that season’s European cup winner Hamburg. The highlight of this league campaign would be a club record victory in an 8-1 defeat of Kickers Offenbach.  It was another high scoring result in a 7-2 win against Sturm Graz in the pre-season intertoto cup, where Meier scored twice, helping Werder to win their division in the competition. This provided the launch pad for this season of great personal achievement for Meier.

 

Meier’s first major European game came in a Uefa Cup first round tie against East German side FC Vorwärts Frankfurt. Here he scored his first goal in a major European competition, opening the scoring away in the first leg of tie to ultimately help Werder advance on away goals. In the second round rout 8-2 of IK Brage of Sweden, Meier again opened the scoring in the first leg and also added two in the second away leg. This was however as far as this side would go in their first taste of European competition. They were eliminated 3-2 by Dundee United in the third round despite Meier again getting on the score sheet in the first leg to finish as Werder’s top scorer in Europe that season with five goals.

 

International Breakthrough

This impressive club form was good enough to earn Meier a call up to the full national side, with his debut coming with a start in a Friendly against England at Wembley in October of 1982 where Meier played 68 minutes in a 2-1 win. This was followed up by a first competitive appearance in March of 1983 away to Albania, again in a 2-1 victory helping West Germany qualify for Euro 84. In June 1983 Meier scored his only goals at international level, scoring two in a 4-2 win against Yugoslavia in a summer friendly. The game, played in Luxembourg as part of their federation’s 75th anniversary celebrations saw Meier hit two impressive left-footed strikes from outside the box, one each into each top corner, typical of Meier’s spectacular style to put his side 2-0 up.

 

Having reached the top level of football by making his international debut, a friendly in January 1983 would also reconnect Meier to his roots in the game. Meier would travel with his Werder Bremen side to play in a friendly game with his home town side and the side where he started in youth football, TSV Reinbek. Some 2,300 people crowded into Reinbek’s modest Paul Luckow station to watch the local minnows take on the Bundesliga side. Meier played a full 90 minutes and although not managing to get a sentimental goal himself, Werder would win out 2-0 over a very spirited display from Reinbek with goals from Rudi Völler and Wolfgang Sidka in the first half. This homecoming was an example of how far Meier had come in his still young career.

 

Meier had marked himself out as one of the top players in German football on the pitch, known for his energetic performances and as “one of those players for which you would pay the entrance fee”. Off the pitch Meier was beginning to enjoy the lifestyle of a footballer, perhaps on occasion too much so. A story emerged from this time, which rumored that Meier and club mate Jonny Otten had one night amounted a bill at a Gentleman’s club which they could not pay off, so they called their club manager Willi Lemke for help. Lemke agreed to pay the dept providing both players would sign a less costly contract extension that would save Werder money, with allegedly both players obliging.

 

In the league during the 1983/84 season Meier was again amongst the goals, scoring 14 times, though this effort could only help Werder to 5th in the Bundesliga table. The high point for Meier in his club form was a run to the semi-final of the West German cup where Meier scored in albeit losing effort after extra time to Borussia Mönchengladbach . Despite a modestly successful season at club level for Meier, 1984 marked the high point of his National team career. With Germany qualifying for Euro 84, Meier was called into the West German squad for the finals tournament in France.

 

Having been left out of the surprise 0-0 draw with Portugal, Meier was brought in for the second group game against Romania where he provide an assist to club mate Rudi Völler for the opening goal in a 2-1 win. In the final group game Meier was subbed off after an hour with a yellow card but with Germany looking the stronger side and temporarily sitting top of their group, needing only a draw to progress. However an 81st minute goal for Portugal in the other group game and a dramatic 90th minute headed goal for Spain put both Iberian countries though and sent West Germany home.

 

The following three seasons brought a serious of near misses rather than success for Meier. In the 1984/85 season Werder finished second in the Bundesliga, four points away from champions Bayern München. Meier could only manage half of his previous season’s goal tally with 7 goals, though this did include his only career hat-trick coming in game day three in a 6-2 win over Koln. In the 1985/86 season Werder again missed out on the league title, as in 82/83 by a matter of goal difference this time to FC Bayern.

 

For the national side, 1985 saw Meier make his final appearance for West Germany in his only World cup qualification match though this ended in a 1-0 defeat to Portugal, drawing to an end his International career. With Franz Beckenbauer taking charge of the national side, Meier missed out on the 1986 World cup as increasing limited game time at Bremen proved costly. Beckenbauer spoke of Meier at this time “Meier is in a super form, but he just plays too rare.” The 1986/87 season was a relatively unsuccessful season, as Werder finished 5th in the league, some 13 points away from repeat champions FC Bayern but this only proved to be the calm before the storm.

 

In the 1987/88 season Werder Bremen were Bundesliga champions. Norbert Meier had earned his first major success as a player to add to previous success in the 2.Bundesliga and Intertoto cup. Werder finished four points clear at the top of the table finally edging out FC Bayern to the title. This was the culmination of Werder’s climb back to the pinnacle of German football from when Meier had joined a then 2.Bundesliga Werder side seven years previously.

 

Aside from Meier, coach Otto Rehhagel remained from that 2.Bundesliga winning side along with fellow players Jonny Otten and Thomas Schaaf with Benno Möhlmann and goalkeeper Dieter Burdenski briefly featuring in the Bundesliga winning side. Meier was an important contributor as ever with his usual quality but also the side’s third top scorer behind the two main strikers, by notching up seven goals from midfield in the league. Though this title made up for the near misses in the past, according to Meier there was a sense in the squad that this side had the quality to have won more. “With the championship in 1988, the misses were forgotten. Although we already said now and then to each other: We could be two times German Champion now!”

 

Following this league success, Meier was only to have one more full season at Werder in 1988/89, which was a season that was to provide further landmarks in Meier’s career. The season began with Meier coming on as a half time substitute for his only DFB Supercup appearance to help in a 2-0 win against Eintracht Frankfurt, collecting what would be his final silverware as a player. It would also be his only campaign in the European Cup where he made four appearances. He provide two assists in the first round tie against Dynamo Berlin in a 5-0 win as Werder overturned a 3 goal first leg deficit. His final appearance in the competition came at the San Siro as Werder were eliminated 1-0 in the quarterfinals to Sacchi’s great AC Milan side who would eventually win that season’s competition.

 

Further domestic success eluded Meier as a third place league finish added to cup final defeat as Werder lost 4-1 to Borussia Dortmund. Meier had made two appearances in the Cup run to the final though Meier himself missed out on the final through injury and was forced to be an onlooker for the game. “When Werder was in the final, I had an Achilles tendon injury which needed surgery”. Though disappointed to miss out, holds no resentment in what would form part of Meier’s future attitude to the unpredictable nature of the cup saying “

“These games, in which you cannot make amends have their own special charm”. Meier was to not achieve cup success during his time as a player.

Meier would only play a limited role at Werder the following 1989/90 season until he made a mid-season transfer away from the club. Meier’s playing time had been gradually reducing in the previous seasons, ending with him only managing seven appearances from fourteen games in his final half season at the club. His final goal for the club came in a season high 6-1 win against Stuttgart bringing his final total to 82 goals for the club.

 

With this, Meier transferred away from the club during the winter break to Borussia Mönchengladbach leaving Werder in a significantly better position that the 2.Bundesliga side he had joined almost a decade earlier. “I was [leaving] but I also paved the way for a glorious time for the Werder team.”, showing that Meier still had the club close to his heart upon leaving.  He also was respectful of the small influence from Rehhagel that Meier would later use in his coaching career, comparing it to like a father and son relationship raising children

“There are things you take over and things that you do consciously different”

In contrast to Bremen’s successes, that season ‘Gladbach was a team in turmoil. Having finished the previous season in sixth position, the found themselves in a relegation battle.  The club went with decisive action in November of that season and made a coaching change, bringing in Gerd Vom Bruch to lead the side. It would be Vom Bruch who would sign Meier on a free transfer into the side who were struggling, despite it including future stars such as Stefan Effenberg and Oliver Bierhoff.

 

Meier arrived with ’Gladbach sitting bottom of the Bundesliga table though only two points away from safety. His debut appearance for his new club was to be one of mixed emotions as ‘Gladbach ran out 4-0 winners over his former side Werder, providing the assist for the second goal in the process. The result lifted his new side clear of the automatic relegation places. With the side battling right to the end of the season, ‘Gladbach would eventually finish a single point and one place clear of the relegation places, preserving their Bundesliga status.

 

The league form improved greatly in 1990/91 for ‘Gladbach as they finished in the top half of the table in a comfortable ninth place. This was despite a shock exit from the first round of the DFB Cup to third tier Oberliga Nordrhein side FC Remscheid, though this was a side which contained players such as Carsten Pröpper who would later feature in the Bundesliga. Meier would play 24 times this season in which he would score twice, the only goals of his ‘Gladbach career. The second of these and what would be the final goal of his career came in May as an equalizer in a 1-1 draw with KFC Uerdingen.

 

The 1991/92 season would be Meier’s final season as a player, ending an eleven year career as a profession. He played thirteen times in this final season, solely in the first half of the season with only one 90th minute appearance in that time. He also made one cup appearance, that in a 2-0 quarterfinal win over Stuttgarter Kickers as part of their journey to the final against Hannover which they would narrowly lose on penalties though Meier would miss out. “I was not there as I was only a standby professional”.

 

Upon retiring from playing, Meier not only had is successes at Bremen, he also set a league record of being substituted 111 times from games, currently equaled by Mehmet Scholl and Ulf Kirsten. This mainly occurred at Werder where he would earn the nickname “Home-Meier” as Meier would often be sacrificed by Rehhagel in away games for tactical reasons. Meier himself would later joke that being substituted so often makes his scoring record all the more impressive.

 

However, leaving the playing side of the game would be far from the end of Meier’s involvement in German football. Having bedded into the setup at Borussia Möchengladbach, Meier would assume a role at coaching underage sides at the club. This would prove to be the springboard for a long and often dramatic career as a coach, highlighted by two spells in the Bundesliga with Duisburg and Fortuna Dusseldorf where Meier, once a great player and student under Rehhagel , was to become a respected coach in his own right.
Credit to Klaus from ‘f-archiv.de’ and Tim from Bergedorf85 blog ‘85live.blogspot.com’ for their help researching this piece.