Wednesday, October 7, 2009

All of the above was about to change soon, the first signs of change appearing in 1972. After long draught noticeable South American players came to Europe. One of them went to Greece – the biggest foreign import Greek football saw so far, and with this started the elevation of the Greek football. Ajax broke the old rule of having only as many foreigners as allowed to be fielded by the rules, broke another rule by keeping foreigners on the bench, instead of playing them to death, and made the first big transfer of their own player, thus braking another rule – not to sell stars when the team is in its prime and winning. The German bribery scandal suddenly provided a whole bunch of players, previously off the international market, to other countries, including the so far unusual places like Scotland and South Africa. Soon the market was to be very dynamic, with Spain lifting the ban on foreign players, Yugoslavia abandoning the age restriction and starting to include foreign based players in the national team as well. All of this was still in the future, but the market started to expand in 1972. The argument whether foreigners are good or bad is as old as football itself – and provides no clear answer. To me, it is clear that foreigners played a role in the success of Ajax, in the development of Greek football, in reestablishing of Barcelona among the big clubs after very lean 1960s, and many other achievements. It is also clear to me, that there is no much fun in having 20 foreign national players in the stable. After all, England’s Premier Division consists of 60% foreign players – and look what the English national team looks like steadily after 1972. Foreign players are not a curse, but they are not a blessing either, yet, it was much more interesting – to me anyway – to see transfers in the early 70s than nowadays.
And saying so, can you tell me, if such names are familiar to you at all, was Ole Bornmose a good player? Or Heinz van Haaren? Or may be Idriz Hosic? Were they to improve Denmark, Holland, or Yugoslavia respectfully, back then? For I have no idea.
Idriz Hosic, playing for 1.FC Kaiserslautern in the 1971-72 season. Perhaps I am a bit unfair to him: as a Partizan (Belgrade) footballer the Bosnian played at the 1968 European Championship final. Actually, in the replay, after the first match ended in 1-1 tie, which Yugoslavia lost 0-2 to Italy. So, he was silver medallist, but by 1972 the scrupulous German ranking did not consider him a ‘world class’.