FOOTBALL | Stielike: “I signed for Real Madrid on a blank piece of paper”

Enrique Ortego


On the eve of a Borussia Moenchengladbach-Real Madrid, it is almost obligatory to listen in Spanish to the easy and fluent verb of a classic that defended both shirts: Uli Stielike. He considers retirement as a point and followed by a football career of 47 years: 15 as a footballer and 32 as a coach. Now settled permanently on the Costa del Sol, he strives to remember those battles of the 70s.

Before getting into the matter, is it true that you have decided to hang up the coach's tracksuit?

Yes. I'm going to be 66 years old on November 15th. I think I've earned it, don't you think? Now it is OK. After so many years from one year to the next, I think the time has come. China sucks you a lot… We have a house in Benalmádena and here we stay.

Let us know what your Gladbach from the 70s was like, one of the best teams in Europe at the time.

Yes it was. Definitely. It was when more fight was offered to Bayern Munich in Germany and we also reached the European finals. We won five Bundesligas, two before I arrived and then three in a row with me already on the pitch. I arrived in '73 and we won the Cup against Colonia. They buy me in February and six weeks later I already played a Cup match in April. It was the rooms. We got into the final. I was 18 years old and the coach took me out at the last minute and all I did was get a yellow card. I think he got me as a prize. Weisweiler, who later went to Barcelona, ​​helped me a lot from day one. He saw my talent and especially my work. He had two 'balls' to bet on a kid. People who saw that game still talk about it. It was sensational.

That's the Gunter Netzer final …

Yes. It was his last game before signing for Real Madrid. He was not a starter precisely because of that. It was like a punishment from the coach. They were both very angry. During the 90 minutes there was a moment when the coach asked him if he wanted to play and Netzer said no. With 1-1 we went to extra time. A midfielder of ours asked for the change and when he saw that situation, Netzer told him that now he wanted to leave. After two or three minutes, he made a wall with Bonhof and put the ball with his left foot in the square.

Why were the Colts calling them?

They called us the colts for the enthusiasm we had, we ran like crazy

Because there was a group of young people, who looked like colts because of our enthusiasm. We would go out and run like crazy, but we really worked thanks to the 'old men' who were there. Without Vogts, Wimmer, Heynckes, Kleff, Wittkamp, ​​Bonhof… the foals would have been nothing. I had six coaches on the field in each training session. They all helped you improve. They formed you. They told you when you had to 'screw up', Heynckes asked me for the ball at the foot, not in space. We were a very tough team. Our physical trainer came from the decathlon. You have to imagine what it was like to train with him. We train like beasts. At that time money was not so important. We went out into the field thinking of our pride. We couldn't lose because of it. That made us a very beloved team in Germany and throughout Europe. We were a model team. We did not have bad manners, we did not jump in the area. We were a clean team, despite being very physical.

A very offensive team, with fast transitions, aggressive … Could it be compared to current Liverpool?

That Borussia of my time resembles the current Liverpool: intensity, euphoria, conviction, pride

If true. Similar. Good comparison. By intensity, euphoria, conviction. We played man against man. We scored a lot of goals, but we knew we had to win the duels in defense to go on the counterattack and we had great defensive discipline. What there were not were lateral balls, nor assignments to the goalkeeper. We went out like ponies. That is why Netzer did not fit in with that philosophy. He didn't like to defend. He had Wimmer at his side who ran for both of them and in that context he could afford to have a player like Netzer.

You were part of Gladbach, who faced Real Madrid in the 75-76 season and were eliminated at the Bernabéu (1-1 and 2-2). Bonhof says there is still talk in the city about refereeing and the two goals disallowed in the second leg. Was it so much?

All those who watch the 76 game without Madrid glasses will say that the Bernabéu was a robbery

How? Of course, of course. You just have to watch the game. Anyone who is objective and does not have the Real Madrid glasses on has to admit that it was a very clear robbery. I remember very few referee names in my life, but this Dutchman, yes: Van der Kroft. He was going to go to the Games later and after that game they left him out because everyone saw what happened at the Bernabéu.

In 77 he signed for Real Madrid. The gossips say that he was not going to sign you, but Wimmer and that President Santiago Bernabéu, who was accompanying Secretary General Agustín Domínguez on the trip to Germany, watching the game, pointed at him and said that he had to sign the one with the mustache, Stielike.

No, that's not true. I dont believe it. Netzer warned me a day or two before the European Cup semifinal against Oleg Blokhin's great Dynamo Kiev, that they were coming to see me from Real Madrid. I didn't know the president was coming, but I was warned. We play in Dusseldorf. And the next day Netzer, who was involved, told me to go to the Intercontinental Hotel. I went in and in the hall was Bernabéu. I didn't know who was waiting for me.

And what did Don Santiago tell him?

Bernabéu sent me to the room with Domínguez, asked me how much I wanted to win and it was my first contract

He spoke two or three words of German to me. He said he had learned it during the war because he had some connection with the Germans. He greeted me and I immediately went up to Agustín Domínguez's room. I was alone. Neither agent nor father, nor anything. Agustín opened the desk drawer, took out a blank piece of paper and said “what do you want to win at Madrid? I had no idea either and I said “What I won at Borussia in the gross, I want to win in net”, which was about 150,000 or 200,000 marks, about 100,000 euros today. He put it on paper, added three years and something else. I signed that paper and that was my first contract with Madrid. Speaking of money never went well for me, but I don't complain, if I do, what can Puskas, Di Stéfano, Gento say … It wasn't a question of money. Real Madrid paid Borussia 1,600,000 marks (800,000 euros).

That Borussia of his only lacked the European Cup. They lost the final against Liverpool (3-1) in Rome.

Yes, it was my last match with the team. We had just won the Bundesliga last Saturday at the Olympiastadion in Munich against Bayern. We tied at two, goals from Heynckes and Stielile. I think that influenced our performance. If we hadn't won the Bundesliga, we would have been European champions. We relaxed and Liverpool beat us.

Did the change from the Bundesliga to the League suffer much?

The problem was that I was injured as soon as I arrived and I was stopped for six weeks. I had a hard time with the food business. In Germany I ate at 12:00 and went to a restaurant in Madrid at 1:00 pm and the waiters were eating. At a football level it was not difficult for me. We had Miljanic and his physical trainer Radisic who worked with a lot of intensity, like in Germany. And at Borussia they had put in my blood the pride of victory, which Madrid had. Losing was personal. It was a continuation. The language also cost me. Instead of putting me in the room with Jensen, who were friends, we lived next door in Moenchengladbach and I helped him move to Madrid a year before, they put me with Pepito Macanás. I suffered a lot, I didn't understand anything, but it also helped me a lot to learn Spanish soon.

The next Champions League match between Borussia Mönchengladbach and Real Madrid (10-27-2020) serves as the perfect alibi for remember the past of this German club that in the 70s was one of the best teams on the continent. A decade, yours, to frame. Football Europe looked towards the small German town. There his football team, born with the century, marveled at his attack game and speed. Die Fohlen, the foals. That's what he called them for their offensive galloping stampedes. Weisweiler and Lattek established themselves as technicians and a good handful of its players inscribed their names in the memory of continental football: Kleff, Vogts, Netzer, Heynckes, Bonhof, Stielike, Wimmer, Jensen, Simonssen

In that decade, they won five Bundesligas, two UEFA Cups, one Cup and lost two finals to Liverpool, one in the European Cup and another in the UEFA.

Titles and endings. In that decade, Gladbach won five Bundesligas to Bayern's three. The first two, 1969 and 70, consecutive. First German club to do so. The last three also correlative: 75, 76 and 77. We must add the Cup of 73. The continental competitions also contemplated its power. Final four. Two wins and two losses. In the 72-73 season, they lost the UEFA Cup final to Shankly's Liverpool. He fell at Anfield (3-0) and got half a miracle at home (2-0). In 74-75, they took revenge against the Dutch Twente (0-0 and 1-5). His first international trophy. The European Cup resisted him. In 77 he managed to qualify for the final, but Liverpool, again, closed the doors of the title: 3-1 in Rome. The resignation of the English champion allowed him to play the Intercontinental Cup. Boca Juniors destroyed him on the return leg at home (0-3) after having tied at La Bombonera (2-2). In 79, his last conquest came: the UEFA Cup after defeating the Red Star in the final (1-1 and 1-0).

Cruz against Real Madrid. Two playoffs nine years apart face Gladbach with the white club. The first, 76-77, quarterfinals, ended in great controversy. In the first leg, Madrid with two Germans in their ranks, Breitner and Netzer, tied (2-2). Goals from Jensen and Wittkamp, ​​shortens distances Roberto Martínez and Pirri achieve the equalization in the second half. On the return leg, at the Bernabéu, Heynckes, with a header, overtook his team and Santillana leveled as soon as the second half began. The referee then annulled two goals to the visitors. One to Jensen for course offside and another to Wittkamp for an alleged prior foul. Both actions were invalidated by the same linesman and much protested by the “colts.” They surrounded the Dutch referee, Leo van der Kroft and cornered him in one of the goals. At the end of the game, they reprimanded the referee and his coach, Lattek, refused to go to the press room. In the 85-86 season, both clubs met again in the round of 16 of the UEFA Cup. German win in the first leg (5-1) with the expulsion of Gordillo and comeback at the Bernabéu (4-0) with two goals from Valdano with a header against Juanito's centers and two from Santillana, the last in 89. Heynckes, scorer in '76 he was Gladbach's coach.

Catapult towards Spain. That great Borussia became a luxury quarry for Spanish football. Three of their great coaches: Weisweiler, Lattek and Heynckes ended up training in our League. The first to Barcelona in the 75-76 season. The second also ended up at the Camp Nou (1981-83) and Jupp won the Seventh with Real Madrid (97-98) after having coached Athletic (92-94) and Tenerife (95-97). He returned to Bilbao in a second stage (2001-03). At the player level, annual exodus. Günter Netzer was the first in 1973. He played for Real Madrid until 1976. Just that year the Danish Henning Jensen arrived, who wore white for three seasons. In 1977, it was Uli Stielike's turn. He was the one who most fell into Real Madrid. He played until 1985 (50 goals in 308 games). In his constant dismemberment, the next transfer was that of Rainer Bonhof, who from 1978 to 1980 played for Valencia. The airlift from Mönchengladbach ended with Allan Simonssen in 1979. Two years after winning the Ballon d'Or (1977) he signed for Barcelona, where he played until 1982.