Werder Bremen, special place for players and fans, a history in great green colours

Werder Bremen haven’t been competing in Europe for a while, but still to be counted in the Bundesliga, despite a troublesome season in the relegation zone of the table. They have won the title four times in the past, going back to 2004 for the last big triumph.

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Their last big triumph was winning the German cup in 2009, and hopefully they can manage to get to climb away from danger also this season to stay up were they almost always have been among the best teams.

This club has nursed forward a number of great players and also managers with the legendary Otto Rehagel probably being the one best remembered. He masterminded his team over 14 years to win the Bundesliga twice, 1988 and 1993, winning the Cup in 1991 and 1994, and also wining the European Cup winner Cup in 1992.

This was astonishing and players such as Rune Bratseth, Rudi Voller and Karl Heinz Riedle all seen in the green jersey. Two fantastic forwards and one of Europe’s best defenders at the time.

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We have seen players as Kevin De Bruyne and Mesut Ozil building their careers stepping up from a life at Werder Bremen to the World stage of football. One of the famous from the past was Horst-Dieter Hottges. Hottgess was a hard tackling full back and nicknamed “Eisenfuss”.

Swedish international Marcus Rosenberg spent his best years in football while at Werder Bremen, and his presence was huge, scoring 40 goals in 123 league appearances. Brazilian Ailton is also one with a fond memories, spending six seasons at the club from 1998 to 2004.

One player that you might have missed as a Bundesliga player is Dave Watson, the former England international defender who moved to Werder Bremen, but after just two league appearances decided to return to England. He left Manchester City in the summer of 1979 and was signed back by Southampton in October that same year. Sadly he is today among those suffering from dimentia and said to be related heading of the ball.

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New Zealand international Wynton Rufer is another player that experienced a great career with Werder after getting his career back on track signing for Norwich at an earlier stage without making any impact. After his canary problems he managed to get his football life back on track in Switzerland and from there moving on to Werder Bremen were he scored 59 goals in 174 league appearances from 1989 to 1995.

Former Chelsea forward and Peru international Claudio Pizzaro might be the most iconic one of them all, representing Werder Bremen in four different spells. He is still with Werder at the age of 41, coming back in 2018, continuing playing at the highest level. He joined this German club for the first time back in 1999. He has also been with Bayern Munich twice and might be among the greatest Bundesliga player of all time. He had a short and difficult spell at Stamford Bridge spending two years in England from 2007 to 2009, only playing 21 league games in which he scored twice.

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Today former Everton and Ajax midfielder Davy Klassen might be among the most important as the Bundesliga existence is under treath. Not to forget former Arsenal captain Per Martesacker who was signed from Werder Bremen.

 

Gzira, spooky and feared, the meditorian ghost story of a football ground

When you see a story from the stadium Gzira, of the island of Malta, it’s usually that England game in 1971, when they just escaped a disaster winning 1-0 against a group of carpenters, plummers and a buss driver, a real amateur team.

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Martin Peters scored England’s goal and it was the first time one of the home nations played a game against their former “colony” and with 30 000 spectators and people shouting and touting whenever the Maltese had the ball it became a noisy afternoon for Sir Alf and his men.

One story to recognize is of course the one of Colin Harvey who just played once for England, yes it was against Malta in 1971, and he had his only cap experience on the sandy concrete turf, which is the trademark of this stadium.

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But other national teams had to play Malta at their home ground and it was seldom an easy affair with a fear to make a tackle or go to the ground, and seeing the ball behaving in a totally different way than you are used to on grass.

Norway had their only game played their in 1961, 10 years before the England experience, were held to a 1-1 draw and really came away from the experience with some type of credit, but it was no place they looked up on with joy.

Sweden played Malta in the qualifications for the 1974 World Cup and managed a 2-0 win at Gzira, with goals from Ove Kindvall and Bo Larsson. Denmark went down there in 1962 and won their clash 3-1.

None of the Scandinavian nations or England went down to play Malta at Gzira again with the stadium closing in 1981. The most amazing result and still a talking point today was the 0-0 draw against West Germany back in 1979.

Those internationals might have been the great events, but we also know from the past that a number of the greatest club teams in Europe has also their experiences from Gzira. Manchester United and Inter are two clubs who have battled it out at the stadium with “spooky” experiences.

Manchester United were held to 0-0 against Hibernians back in 1968, and 10 years laster, another club Floriana kept Inter to 1-1 late into a game with only star striker Allesandro Altobelli keeping his head cool as scoring twice towards the end to save the Italians from a disaster.

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The last time a football game was arranged at this stadium is as far back as November 1981, but still the “ghost” is around and the stadium walls seen in a “jungle” of threes, grass and seeds.

The ground is still remembered for their goalposts cemented into the ground and in those white and black stripes. Good to see that Malta finally decided to build a new stadium with a natural grass turf, but the fear and spooky atmosphere is gone and just memories are left from those astonishing battles against massive opponents.

 

Will Bruno Fernandes be as important for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as Eric Cantona was for Sir Alex Ferguson

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s rollercoaster ride can have come to an end with the signing of Bruno Fernandes. A brilliant footballer, equipped to be part of the modern era of Manchester United. A key signing, a player missing from the line-up in the past and hopefully the signing that will see a new bright future at Old Trafford.

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You can say what you want about Paul Scholes, Peter Schmeichel, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs and of course they were all important during the time of Sir Alex, but the player to “break the duck” was by far Eric Cantona.

His presence at Manchester United and his surprise move from Leeds United made magic at Old Trafford. The French excellence scored some very important goals that made him a winner of two league trophies in two seasons with two different clubs.

Eric Cantona looked as if he didn’t fear anything and his confidence was at a level that made opponents scared and looking out for him, giving less importance to others who also could enter on to the stage and getting up there among the stars.

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The way Bruno Fernandes has started his Manchester United career is so fantastic to see and his game today against Watford makes everyone believe he can take the pressure of other players and really make them shine.

The fact that this club now is without Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba, has sent players like Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez out the door, and makes space for the young phenomena Mason Greenwood is very interesting to watch.

Bruno Fernandes, still only 25, has been around for a while and tasted the life of football at different levels and not always been “fantastic”. He played in Serie A for clubs such as Udinese and Sampdoria and then to join Sporting Lisbon might have been a step to the side or down if you like, but the way he has turned his fortunes around and played in the last 2,5 seasons makes him a player that can really become a magic signing.

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If you look at Eric Cantona, that was 26 when he joined Man Utd from Leeds, and his life in football had been all in France playing short term for clubs such as Auxerre, Marseille, and signed from Nimes when joining Leeds. Not really the straight forward road to become a league winner in England.

But again as Fernandes, still with a footballing future in front of him and a past with a number of experiences that of course had given him not a straight forward career to the top, but a hard battle to win in the end and see the trophies lifted and filled in the club cabinets.

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We believe that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with this signing has brought in a player that had the desire to join this club, because he has said he was a fan and would have been in trouble if he had turned down a move to his boyhood favorites.

Would be lovely to see if this is the “key” to a rise for Manchester United as they belong among the best teams and should be up there and compete with the Liverpool’s and Man City’s.

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