“It might have been the 2. Bundesliga but it was still Borussia Dortmund”
BM We both share our passion for the BVB when you look around your house it is the house of a BVB fan. You have BVB memorabilia, trophies, photos; you can see that BVB means a lot to you. You were certainly moved to get the chance to play for Dortmund as a young striker. It must have felt like a big task to replace Sigi Held in a team with Dieter ‘Hoppy’ Kurrat or Jürgen Schütz, all three of them Germany internationals, for a regular place in the team, all very experienced, quite a challenge?
AS I was deeply honored to play with players like ‘Hoppy’ Kurrat. We kept in touch even after our active careers. Sadly, he died in 2017 but I have great memories of him as a friend and footballer – ‘Hoppy’ was unique, few people identified with BVB club like he did- he was unique. In fact Jürgen Schütz was a star striker in the Italian Serie A, he had played for AC Torino and AS Roma, at that time few Germans played in Italy, the Serie A, Italy’s top tier, was the big money league in Europe. Apart from them the BVB team in the 71/72 season consisted of youngsters like Ingo Peter, Friedel Mensink and striker colleagues Jürgen Wilhelm and me. We were all starting out. It might have been the 2. Bundesliga but it was still Borussia Dortmund and we young players fought to gain a foothold in the team – believe me.
BM As a fan I first came to BVB in 1982 as a boy, my stepfather Erhard was, he died in 2018, from Dortmund and we moved to Germany that year as a family, one player I remember was goalkeeper Horst Bertram. Bertram was replaced as the main keeper by Eike Immel who to me was a football hero when he played at BVB. Bertram was one of a number of great BVB goalkeepers, Immel, De Beer, Klos, Lehmann, Weidenfeller – all reliable and outstanding goalkeepers on whom Borussia could rely. Bertram was one of 7 players, one of whom was ‘Hoppy’ Kurrat who got a memorial match at the Westfalenstadion. What memories do you have of playing alongside Horst Bertram?
AS Horst joined BVB at the same time as me. He was an outstanding player and a great talent. Bertram played 200 games and stayed with BVB until 1983 he had joined the club from Kickers Offenbach and made an instant impact. Horst was considered a great talent. At first he competed with Jürgen Rynio the first choice keeper at BVB, but eventually overtook Rynio. Horst became the building block of the BVB team that rose to the top of the 2. Bundesliga and got promoted to the 1. Bundesliga in 1976. He was then replaced by Eike Immel.
BM I, like all BVB fans at the time was gutted to see our goalkeeper Immel transferred to VFB Stuttgart in 1986. Although you didn’t play with Burgsmüller in a team. The legendary record scorer of BVB (135 goals) was one of your opponents when he played for Bayer Uerdingen. What memories do you have of Manni? He was known as an extremely clever player who could score from any angle and remains Borussia Dortmund’s all-time record scorer with 135 goals scored between 1976 and 1983. He was known for being a very clever striker who could score from almost any angle, what was Manni like as an opponent, did the tag ‘Wise-guy’ (Schlitzohr in German) do him justice?
AS Manni was an absolute sensation as a player. He was also top scorer with Uerdingen and at my former club RW Essen. I also played against Manni when I was with 1 FC Mülheim when he was at Essen. I think Manni learned a lot from my friend and colleague at RW Essen -Willi ‘Ente’ Lippens who was known for having a real ‘killer instinct’ but also being a tremendously fun personality in the locker room. ‘Ente’ which means Duck in German, got his nickname because of his characteristic way of running which resembled the waddle of a duck. Lippens was short at 5.7ft and kept the whole team entertained with his joking around. He was very valued by the fans. On the pitch however, in spite of the tomfoolery, he was deadly and had an excellent strike-rate. Ente was Manni’s mentor at RW Essen where they played together for 10 years. Manni learned his tricks from ‘Ente’ but his killer instinct was his own.
BM Some great insights into your career Alfons. Although you only played professionally for 5 years, Germany won the World Cup in 1974 and your time in the game was against the best players of a generation, which players made a big impression on you?
AS I look back on my career with great pride but also gratitude. It was an honour to have played in a league with that golden generation in the early 1970s. German stars like Sepp Maier, Wolfgang Overath, Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Müller. I played in an incredible second tier against teams like VFL Wolfsburg and Arminia Bielefeld but also smaller teams like 1 F.C Mülheim, who I played for, at the peak of that club’s history in the 2. Bundesliga-Nord.
A player I learned a lot from that you may remember well from his time playing for RW Oberhausen which I played with in Mülheim was Holger Osieck. He went on to become trainer of the Germany national team for eleven years as an assistant to Franz Beckenbauer. In 1990 Osieck and Beckenbauer led Germany to the World Cup title at Italia 90. Osieck was always on the sidelines with his characteristic red sweater. It was great to see a Mülheim player at that level, especially as the club now play in the 8th Tier, the Kreisliga B, times have changed for the club, 1FC live mainly from their past now.