June 17, 2024

Paul Wolfsberg thrilled Nate with a 2-1 win over England

Big celebrations in Basel: Paul Wolfsberg and defender Gianpietro Zappa are happy with the win over England.Photo: Keystone

never forget

May 30, 1981: The Swiss national football team was wandering the field away from major tournaments when Paul Wolfsberg took over. The bearded coach soon ensures that the country becomes interested in its national team again.

May 30, 2024, 12:01 amMay 28, 2024 at 4:27 pm

Ralph Mele
Ralph Mele

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The 1966 World Cup in England would be the last tournament that the Swiss national football team could qualify for for a long time. The next participation in the tournament did not happen again until 1994. The national team came close in the early 1980s when a new wave of enthusiasm swept the country under coach Paul Wolfsberg.

Wolfsburg, a legend of FC Luzern as a player and coach, took over coaching the national team at the end of March 1981 and led it to an away victory over Czechoslovakia 1-0. After this friendly match, the national team drew 2-2 in a World Cup qualifier against Hungary a month later, and four weeks later hosted the great England team in Basel.

Paul Wolfsberg, interim coach of the Swiss national football team, smokes a cigarette during Switzerland's match against Czechoslovakia, taken on March 24, 1981 in Bratislava.

No problem yet in 1981: Paul Wolfsberg smoked a cigarette during a match.Photo: Keystone

Double goal from Schueller and Sulser

40,000 fans flock to the Uceli Stadium and watch the Swiss team work bravely from the start. The now-defunct trade newspaper Sport reported “sporadic and rude fighting”, with the English in particular coming into the game with “a determination and uncompromising firmness of tackle which they had not seen for a long time”.

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The Swiss took the lead – with un-Swiss efficiency – after half an hour. After goals from Freddy Schueller and Claudio Sulser within 108 seconds, the Whites were 2-0 up after half an hour. “In the style of a smart, cool professional team,” says Sport, the Swiss saved their lead as the clock ticked down.


“The English were not holiday footballers!”

The newspaper listed the reasons: “Strong defence, discipline, exploiting counterattack opportunities.” Rarely have the Swiss defense played with such discipline, determination, strength, stubbornness and, most importantly, intense concentration against an opponent of this level for 90 minutes.

This resulted in the first victory over the homeland of football since 1947. Legendary sports journalist Walter Lutz emphasized in his report: “And this should be clear: the English were not holiday footballers, nor did they take the game lightly.”

Paul Wolfsberg, coach of the Swiss national football team, wears a T-shirt with the text on it "Hope Switzerland"It was recorded on October 12, 1983 in Zurich.  (keystone/street)

While his successors chose the fine line, Paul Wolfsburg appeared wearing a “Wolf” T-shirt.Photo: Keystone

Federal Chancellor Kurt Fürgler storms from the stands into the locker room to congratulate the team and the new coach. “I just had to tell everyone how well they fought and played. What fun to watch,” Wurgler smiled.

Birth of the company “Abbruch GmbH”.

While the Federal Council was excited, the party’s Secretary General Edgar Oberthofer could no longer bear the tension. “He walked around the stadium, pale, and sometimes disappeared into the toilet to pour water down his dry throat,” the Sport article said. After the match, Oberthofer was clear: “This win heals many of the wounds inflicted on our football in recent years.”

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The successful Wolfsberg coach has “Schlomi” in a bar in Lucerne after returning home, in bed by three in the morning and providing information the next day. He asserts that the Neti appeared as a conspiring unit; That was one of the keys to success.

In the coming matches, the name “Abbruch GmbH” will increasingly become synonymous with the national team, with the “wolf pack” of coach Wolfsberg. Naticoach, who works full-time as an architect, has built a fortress around Andy Egli, Gianpietro Zappa, Heinz Lodi, Charlie N. Albon, Roger Werley and Herbert Herrmann – solid defensive players.

English fans participated in a riot in the stands during a World Cup qualifying match between Switzerland and England in Basel on 30 May 1981. Switzerland won the match 2:1.  (keystone/street)

During the match, English fans rioted. The Sunday People wrote: “Once again traveling England fans have shamed us.Photo: Keystone

Despite the upswing, there is no participation in the tournament

“For me, Wolfsburg was like William Tell,” Eagly describes in his book Biography of “The Wolf”. “He embodied reliability and positivity, but also angry and complex. He radiated great inner strength.” Wolfsberg is not only compared to the Swiss national hero. Once he was given a free taxi ride in Thailand because the driver refused to believe he was not actor Bud Spencer.

Despite the newfound strength of the national team, Switzerland missed qualification for the 1982 World Cup as well as the 1984 European Championship and the 1986 World Cup. In addition to the victory over England, a 1-0 away win over the newly crowned world champions Italy in the fall of 1982 achieved its greatest success in Wolfsburg era.

Paul Wolfsberg, the legendary Swiss national coach, is 87 years old. He dies in the summer of 2020.

never forget

In the Unforgotten series, we take a look back at a major event in sporting history on its anniversary: ​​whether it’s a standout performance, poignant drama or a funny anecdote – it’s all there.

Record players in the Swiss national team


Record players in the Swiss national team

The Swiss national football team played its first match in 1905. These representatives ran 75 times or more For Switzerland. [Stand: 13.05.2024]

Source: Keystone/Laurent Gilleron

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