Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The small number of importers informs the number of exporters somewhat. In the early 70s – equally small and quite constant number. Since South Americans were abandoned after 1966, it was largely European countries providing foreign players. The already mentioned Yugoslavia along Sweden and Denmark were long established, dependable, constant exporters. The Yugoslavian case was largely given a bit earlier, so only appropriate additional information will be given here – there is similarity between the three principal exporters: their players were cheap. And they were cheap because they were amateurs playing for amateur clubs. Hardly the case of Yugoslavia, but officially – amateurs. Because of that it was not possible for Yugoslavian clubs to put heavy price on their players. Exchange rates and living standards also helped to get Yugoslavs for very little – which made them preferable choice of the buyers. The whole of Scandinavia still maintained amateur football – a real one, and because of that similarities with Yugoslavia almost stop here. Unlike Yugoslavia and similarly to Switzerland, there were no big clubs in Scandinavia, hence, there was no concentration of top players – stars were scattered in many clubs, even Second Division clubs. Therefore, Scandinavian stars felt unfulfilled at home and since living in free countries, they did not have to ask and scheme to find a way to play professionally abroad. The whole of Scandinavia had mediocre (at best) domestic leagues, but Sweden had strong national team – not an unusual combination even today in the weird world of football. The other Northern countries, however, matched mediocre club football with mediocre national teams. Norway and Finland were among the lowest of the low in Europe – correspondingly, only a handful of Finns appeared in the professional leagues and almost no Norwegian players until the end of the 70s. Denmark, in contrast, provided steady stream of professional players since the end of the Second World War, some becoming huge stars in Italy or elsewhere, yet, locally and never becoming international big names. The reason was the policy of Danish Federation, insisting the national team to include only amateurs. Thus, Dane players had no international exposure and remained largely unknown outside the country they happened to play. Accordingly, the Danish national team had a bug turnover, constantly losing whatever talented player emerged, and never any good.
Ole Björnmose, freshly transferred from Werder (Bremen) to Hamburger SV in the summer of 1972. He represents the typical Danish import - unknown to Europe, but steady and reliable. As many Danes, he played successfully in the Bundesliga for years.