Retirement. Football is merciless – knowing only today and almost never remembering yesterday. By 1988 Klaus Fichtel was some long forgotten past… Yet, he was not long forgotten past, but something more, best summarized with one simple sentence: the central-defender was born 1944, debuted in 1965-66 and retired after the 1987-88 season at the age of 44!
Born in Castrup-Rauxel, Province of Westphalia, he debuted for Schalke 04 in 1965-66 – it was interesting debut: on one hand, Fichtel was rather old debutante – 21-years old, not 17 or 18. He was just acquired by Schalke 04 from his original club Arminia (Ickern). On the other hand, his debut was more than impressive – he played in every game of the season: 34. And there was no stopping after that.
More: his talent was not just local – debuting in the season after which West Germany played at the final of 1966 World Cup, he debuted for the national team in 1967 and played a total of 23 games for it, scoring 1 goal (against Scotland in 1969). However, Fichtel played for West Germany only 4 years, 1967-71. Such was his fate…
His peak with the national team was 1970, playing at the World Cup in Mexico.
Everything looked just fine next to Helmut Schon.
Fichtel (dribbling here between Uruguyans) was solid regular – 5 matches at the finals – and one of the memorable stars of impressive team.
26-years old, Klaus Fichtel was seen as one of the modern players, changing the game – a defender capable of attacking. Young enough to shine for many years – but… his very age was his undoing. At first Fichtel was seen as natural replacement of Karl-Heinz Schnellinger and Willy Schulz, competing only with Wolfgang Weber and Bernd Patzke. But Beckenbauer moved back to play a libero and the duo Beckenbauer – Schwarzenbeck made it virtually impossible for any other player to appear in the national team. Unfortunately for Fichtel, he had mighty competition in his own generation and considered now and then by Schon, he never played for the national team after 1971. With irreplaceable regulars, Schon – especially after 1974 – was looking for younger substitutes. When Beckenbauer retired from the national team Fichtel was already over 30 too, not a natural replacement. By 1978 he was almost forgotten by the football world – he had no part of the the great success of West Germany in 1972 and 1974 and playing for Schalke 04 contributed somewhat negatively: his club’s involvement in the infamous bribing scandal in 1971 put a bit of a stigma even on players not involved like Klaus Fichtel. Ironically, this was the time of his greatest success as a club player – he won the West German Cup in 1972 with Schalke 04. His only trophy… But the wonderful squad was destroyed by the bribing scandal in the same time, so… no return to the national team and no more trophies.
In 1980 Klaus Fichtel moved from Schalke 04 to Werder (Bremen), which meant going to play in Second Division… True, just a single season – in which Fichtel played in every match, 42 games – but there was little glory to taste second-level football. Such a league did not exist when Fichtel debuted, so, to a point, he distinguished himself by playing in both professional leagues of West Germany. Two more season with Werder followed – again in the Bundesliga – and the veteran, now 40 years old, moved back to Schalke 04 in 1984.

Klaus FICHTEL, Deutschland, Fussball, FC Schalke 04, ganze Figur, zeigend, deutend, HF

He was no longer a regular starter, but played to the end – 11 games in his last season. When he stepped down, Fichtel had a total of 552 games in the Bundesliga and 14 goals. 42 games in the 2. Bundesliga. 23 games for the national team. Bronze medals from the 1970 World Cup. Could have been more successful – and more famous, therefore – if he was born a few years earlier, or a few years later. He was regarded as a sweeper in the time of the libero – another handicap… His loyalty to Schalke 04, where he played almost 20 years, also worked against him: the bribing scandal and the following decline of the team, put the player as well on the back burner. If there was no Beckenbauer, if Fichtel played for Bayern of Borussia Moenchengladbach… such whining is pointless at the end. Fichtel was great player with fantastic longevity – consider that in the late 1960s and up the 1990 the common wisdom was that a player turning 30 is on his last legs. Playing top league football and in West Germany at that at 44 was almost beyond imagination. After 23 years of professional football Klaus Fichtel finally called it quits.

European Player Of The Year

European Player of the Year. 24 players got points, but as usual the best players came from the most successful teams – Holland and USSR this year, the finalists of the European championship, and the winner got the laurels: three Dutchmen were on top. Frank Rijkaard ended 3rd with 45 points, Ruud Gullit – 2nd with 88 points, and Marco van Basten on top with 129 points.
There was hardly any doubt about the mighty trio, playing for Milan – their names were on everybody’s lips, they were the best players in Europe and it was really difficult to say who was best of the three. They were instrumental for Dutch victory of the European championship.
Very often at least two of the great stars were present in the same picture, such was the rapport between them.
Shining on the pitch together, receiving awards together.
Paul Breitner certainly was happy to present awards rather than playing against van Basten & friends.
The spectacular winning goal van Basten scored at the European final perhaps tipped the scale in his favour at the end.
But it was splendid season for him and it was not just the great goal at the final.
The elegant, technical and deadly striker deserved to be voted first in Europe – this was the first such award for Marco van Basten and not the last.

Golden Shoe

The Golden Shoe. No scandal this season and new winner:
Tanju Colak (Galatasaray) scored 39 goals and won, followed by John Eriksen (Servette and Denmark) with 36 goals and Victor Pitrurca (Steaua and Romania) with 34.
Colak was already impressive name in Turkey, where he scored 123 goals in 157 games for Samsunspor. For that Galatasaray bought him and he became the top scorer of Europe in his first season with red-yellow jersey.
As many great scorers, 25-years old Tanju Colak delighted the crowds with spectacular goals. Well deserved award.


Luxembourg. Ranked last in Europe – 33rd. If Malta was enlarging their top league, Luxembourg was reducing the top league from 12 to 10 teams the next season. Thus, 3 teams were relegated and only one promoted. On the top – single and familiar dominance.
CS Petange won the Second Division championship and the single promotion this year. It was a return to top flight.
US Rumelange was the outsider in the top league – last with 10 points. Three teams ended with 16 points and goal-difference decided their fate: Aris (Bonnevoie) took 11th place and Alliance (Dudelange) – 10th. They were relegated along with US Rumelange. Swift (Hesperange) survived on 9th place.
At the top Avenir (Beggen) played well as usual, but not well enough to compete for the title – they finished 3rd with 28 points. Spora (Luxembourg) and Jeunesse (Esch) fought bitterly for the title. Jeunesse bested Spora by a single point and won the title with 34 points from 15 wins, 4 draws, and 3 losses. 53-20 goal-difference.
Avenir attempted to get a trophy, reaching the Cup final, where they met Jeunesse. Again, Jeunesse prevailed: 1-0.
Thus, Jeunesse triumphed with a double – it was their 6th. Their total record increased to 21 titles and 9 Cups.


Malta. Ranked 32nd. The smallest European league was increasing – going from 8 to 9 teams the next year, so one team was relegated and 2 promoted from Second Division. On the field – impressive dominance of a club not exactly known for great success.
Rabat Ajax and Naxxar Lions earned promotion from Second Division.
Mosta finished last in the top league with 9 points and was relegated. They lost a battle of 4 teams – Birkirkara ended 7th with 10 points and survived because of the league increase. Floriana was 6th also with 10 points, but with better goal-difference than Birkirkara. Hibernians finished 5th with 11 points.
Weak season for Valletta – 4th with 13 points.
Zurrieq got bronze medals with 18 points and Sliema Wanderers – silver with 19 points.
Hamrun Spartans repeated their success of the previous season: they won the title again with 22 points from 9 wins, 4 tiles and single loss. 21-5 goal-difference.
But they also won the Cup again, beating Floriana 4-2 at the final.
A second consecutive double – rare achievement of any club, making their record 6 titles and 2 Cups. Excellent!


Iceland – ranked 31st. One more country using 3 points for a win rule. But not much about this championship – one team dominated it. The top two leagues had 10 teams each. Two teams relegated and two – promoted.
Second Division.
Fylkir – 2nd with 33 points and promoted.
FH – champions with 44 points from 14 wins, 2 draws and 2 losses. 47-20 goal-difference. Promoted, of course.
First Division. At the end of the table – outsiders without any bite.
Volsingur – last with 9 points.
Leiftur – 9th also with 9 points. Ahead of Volsingur on better goal-difference, but this was purely academic – both outsiders went down.
IA Akranes had solid season as usual and finished 3rd with 32 points.
Valur finished 2nd with 41 points.
Fram (Reykjavik) dominated this season and easily won the title with 49 points from 16 wins, 1 tie and single lost match. Excellent goal-difference too: 38-8. Thus, Fram increased its record to 17 titles.
The Cup final opposed Valur and IBK Keflavik. Valur prevailed 1-0.
IBK Keflavik had poor season – they finished 8th in the championship – so the Cup was their good chance and they tried hard, but lost.
Valur (Reykjavik), although well behind city rivals Fram, still ended the year with a trophy – they won their 5th Cup. Not bad at all.


Eire. Ranked 30th. Dramatic battle between 3 teams for the title.
Second Division – 10 teams, 2 promoted. Three former top league teams were stronger than the rest, but two of them were not not up to the task of return among the best.
Cobh Ramblers were the pleasant surprise – they finished 2nd with 38 points and were promoted. A new name to play in the First Division.
Athlone Town won the championship with 39 points: 19 wins, 1 draw, 7 losses, 42-22. They prevailed over Cobh Ramblers, but the most important was the promotion back to top league.
First Division – 2 teams were hopeless outsiders, so no drama at the bottom, but the race for the title was dramatic. The formula of the 12-team league was every team playing 3 times against the others to the tune of 33 championship rounds.
Sligo Rovers ended last with 13 points.
Bray Wanderers was going down as well – 11th with 18 points.
Derry City had rather weak season – 8th with 31 points.
Bohemians, St. Patrick’s Athletic and Dundalk fought for the title and at the end 1 point was the decisive difference. Bohemians was disappointed – 3rd with 45 points.
St. Patrick’s Athletic managed to finish above Bohemians, thanks to 2 goals better goal-difference. But they also finished with 45 points and lost the title. Still, it was not all that bad – they clinched the Irish UEFA Cup spot.
Dundalk clinched the title with 46 points: 19 wins, 8 draws, 6 losses, 54-32.
It was not all for the champions – they reached the Cup final too, where Derry City opposed them. The final was controversial.
The Northern Ireland-based finalist gave the final distinct foreign flavour – Derry City had only 1 player from Eire, but had also players from France, England, Scotland and South Africa (Owen Da Gama above hailed from South Africa). In the bitter weather, they were seemingly the better team, but the referee… gave questionable penalty to Dundalk and put a blind eye to two Derry City penalty claims. Dundalk scored what was given and the end was 1-0 for them.
Dundalk got the Cup.
Derry City had reason to think they were wronged and most likely they were, but after a weak season they were still going to play a bit of European football in the Cup Winners Cup as losing finalists. They were also a good example of the vast changes in the European football in the 1980s – now even lowly leagues used foreign players.

Dundalk with a double, but both trophies were won in dramatic manner. Certainly not a domineering squad – rather sturdy fighters. The boys increased the club record to 7 titles and 8 Cups. They won the second double for Dundalk, after waiting a decade for such triumph (the first double Dundalk won in 1978-79).

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland. Ranked 29th. A perfect season for Glentoran, but not an easy one. They battled hard with Linfield in the championship. In it, 4 teams were much stronger than the rest of the league and one – Distlillery – was hopelessly weak, finishing last with 11 points.
Ballymena United finished 7th with 36 points.
Larne finished 5th with 40 points.

Newry Town – 4th with 50 points.
Coleraine – 3rd with 52 points.
Linfield and Glentoran were entangled in battle of their own for the title – Linfield lost it and took 2nd place with 60 points.
Glentoran clinched the title with 62 points from 19 wins, 5 draws and 2 losses. 48-15 goal-difference.
But they also reached the Cup final, where Glenavon opposed them – in perfect from, Glentoran scored the only goal and won the Cup 1-0.
A double for Glentoran, which was only the second double in their history and they had to way more than half of a century for it, winning their first double in the long gone 1920-21 season. It was also their 18th title and 14th Cup.


Norway. Ranked 28th. It was a bit strange, for Norway had some good players in the 1980s – certainly more than Finland – yet, it remained lowly in the UEFA’s ranking. Good players played abroad and that was perhaps the main reason for the weakness of the Norwegian teams. But one team was superior this season – a precursor of better days, an early sign of strong future. 2 teams were directly relegated and the winners of the 2 Second Division groups were directly promoted. The 10th in the top league and the second-placed in the Second Division groups competed in a ply-off for 1 first division spot. 3 points for a win and 1 points foe a draw.
Second Division. Two of the three relegated in 1987 teams were eager to return to the top league. None succeeded directly. The winners of the two groups, directly promoted, were:
Viking (Stavanger), winner of Group A with 45 points, and
FK Mjolner (Narvik), winner of Group B with 53 points. Mjoner’s victory was more confident and significant – unlike Viking, they had no glorious past, so for them climbing up was great success. Also, unlike Viking, they dominated their group. This was the second time the club was going to play in the First Division – the first time, in 1971, was unsuccessful – perhaps this time they will last longer? Will see.
Perhaps one more team should be mentioned – Stromsgodset Drammen. A club more often playing top league football, than second level, but now down on their luck. They were lowly 8th in Group B of Second Division. Top row from left: Åge Kjeksrud, Ole Grøndal, Ole Viggo Walseth, Rune Themte, Frode Johannessen, Torkel Knudsen, Geir Knudsen, Frank Hovland
Middle row: Jakob Vik, Harald Ramsfjell, Ståle Engenes, Morten Johansen, Øystein Solbakken, Geir Hegdal, Ulf Camitz, Svein Erik Johansen, Roger Knutsen, Terje Dokken, Inge Thun
Sitting: Torbjørn Tharaldsen, Morten Lilleberg, Lars Groven, Roar Flaglien, Gabor Valo, Ulrik Mathisen, Aners Holmquist, Arne Gustavsen, Jan Wendelborg, Øystein Pedersen
The second-placed in the two groups went to promotion/relegation play-off, along with the 10th placed in the First Division, Bryne.
HamarKameratane, just relegated, finished 2nd in Group B, but their desired to get back to First Division were cut short – they lost both matches in the play-off and finished last.
Bryne did not fair well either – won the match against HamKam, but lost against Start, and, ending 2nd in the play-off, were relegated to Second Division.
Start, relegated in 1987 along with HamKam, also wanted to return to top flight – they failed to win Group A, finishing a point behind Viking, but excelled in the play-off: they won their both matches and earned promotion.
First Division: the last two were directly relegated and both were newcomers, just promoted. Djerv 1919 ended last and Strommen – 11th. Both teams were outsiders, quite weaker than the rest of the league.
Bryne ended 10th, which moved them to the promotion/relegation play-off.. No luck there – they finished 2nd and were relegated.
Since one team dominated the championship, the season was pretty ordinary. Brann ended lowly – 9th with 25 points. There was a battle for 2nd place between 3 teams – since Norway had only one UEFA Cup spot, it was important to get it.
Moss, currently playing in Europe, was unable to repeat their 1987 success – they finished 4th with 37 points.
Molde also lost – ended 3rd with 39 points.
Lillestrom clinched the coveted 2nd place with 40 points and got the UEFA Cup spot for 1989.
Rosenborg was superior and won quite easily the championship with 47 points from 14 wins, 5 ties, 3 losses, and 54-23 goal-difference.
The Cup final was reached by Brann and Rosenborg. Brann had a weak season and the difference in class gave them no real chance – with 2 goals in the first half Rosenborg won the final – 2-0.
Brann lost, but still it was a bit of compensation for the poor championship – they were going to represent Noraway in the 1989 Cup Winners Cup. Top row from left: Jan Halvor Halvorsen, Arne Møller, Per Hilmar Nybø, Jan Eivind Brudvik, Dan Riisnes, Bjarni Sigurdsson, Heine Mathiesen, Fritjof Wilborn, Geir Gulbrandsen, Alf Dahl, Lars Moldestad.
Middle row: Rune Enehaug (fysioterapeut), John E. Reigstad (SFA), Arve Mokkelbost (sports- og markedssjef) Jan Erik Storvik, Redouane Drici, Trond Nordeide, Trygve Larsen (keepertrener), Teitur Thordarson (trener), Henrik Bjørnstad, Atle Torvanger, Trond Devik, Jon Schjelderup (lege), Casper Moldenhauer (SFA), Erling Mikkelsen (SFA).
Front row: Jan Erlend Kruse, Odd Johnsen, Per Egil Ahlsen, Hans Brandtun, Robert Hauge, Børge Pedersen, Gjert Rein Berntsen, Arne Wilhelmsen (materialforvalter), H. J. Berge (SFA).
Wonderful season for Rosenborg: they won both the Cup and the championship – their second double so far. 5th title and 4th Cup.


Cyprus. Ranked 27th. Dramatic battle for the title, ending with unusual winner. Apart from that – the top league was going to be reduced from 16 to 15 teams for the next year, so 3 teams were relegated and 2 promoted. The Second Division had 15 teams this season. Three teams fought for the 2 promotions, everybody else was far behind. Evagoras (Paphos) lost the race and finished 3rd with 40 points.
Omonia (Aradippou) failed to win the championship, but ended promoted – 2nd with 42 points.
Keravnos was a surprise winner with 43 points from 18 wins, 7 ties, and 3 losses. 52-21 was not the best record in the league, but no matter: Keravnos was on top and promoted to top flight.
First Division. Three outsiders: Anagennisi was last with 16 points, Alki – 15th with 17 points, and APEP – 14th with 19 points. They were relegated. Nothing much up the table:
EPA (Larnaca) ended 9th with 27 points.
Nea Salamina – 7th with 33 points.
Omonia (Nicosia), quite surprisingly, was not a factor this season. Yet, they still finished 3rd with 37 points. Even when weak, Omonia was stronger than most the the league.
APOEL and Pezoporikos fought for the title, not letting anybody to come even close to them. One point decided the champions and APOEL (Nicosia) lost, finishing with 47 points. They won most games this season – 22 – and scored most goals – 66 – but they also lost too many games – 5 – which was costly at the end.
Pezoporikos prevailed. Unusual winners, but having some other team instead of Omonia and APOEL on top was refreshing. The new champions were tough – they lost only 1 match! Strong defense was the secret of success: they won 19 games, tied 10. Scored 56 goals, but permitted only 20 in their own net. That clinched the title: 48 points against APOEL’s 47.
Happy champions indeed.

Pezoporikos waited 34 years for this triumph! It was their 2nd title and such a rare winner deserves better photos, but… that is all at hand.
Omonia still had a chance to finish the season with a trophy – they reached the Cup final, where they met AEL (Limassol). The underdog was not an easy pray, but eventually Omonia prevailed – 2-1.
Would have been great two underdogs to win the trophies, but no such luck. Too bad AEL lost.
Omonia (Nicosia) saved the season, so to say. Weak championship, but at the end they still had the upper hand over their bitter rivals – APOEL had nothing this year, Omonia got the Cup. It was their 8th.