“Der Erste Israeli Der Bundesliga” – English Translation

Bayern Munich star midfielder ULI HOENESS (left), who won both the 1972 UEFA European Championships and the 1974 FIFA World Cup titles with the senior national team of West Germany and also represented the Bundesrepublik Deutschland at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games hosted by the city of Munich in between, competes for the ball with versatile Borussia Moenchengladbach sweeper/midfielder SHMUEL ROSENTHAL, who represented Israel at the final tournaments for the 1968 Summer Olympic Games and 1970 FIFA World Cup both hosted by Mexico, during the Bundesliga contest at the Olympiastadion in Bavaria on October 21, 1972.

Karsten Kellermann — 04/21/2012


SHMUEL ROSENTHAL is informed well (about) football. “I saw Bourssia (Moenchengladbach)’s 3-0 (win) against 1.FC Cologne in parts. Class! I am pleased that Gladbach are playing such a great season” he reports via telephone from Tel Aviv.

He was himself in former times a part of the Foals Eleven, although only for one season. In 1972 he came to Gladbach. 13 Bundesliga games (one goal) and four deployments in the UEFA Cup later he went again in 1973. Still, Rosenthal, who will be 65 years old tomorrow, wrote football history.

He was the first professional from Israel who played in Europe.

“I opened the doors for all Israeli footballers. The Israeli (football) federation did not allow it at that time, to change (transfer) abroad. One was considered like a traitor and would be suspended one year,” says Rosenthal.

He played with Israel at the 1968 Olympic Games and at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. “We played 0-0 against Italy, all the greats were there : (AC Milan playmaking midfielder Gianni) RIVERA, (Inter Milan attacking midfielder Sandro) MAZZOLA, (Cagliari forward Luigi) RIVA,” tells Rosenthal. Israel was eliminated, still the man with the Seehund-Schnauzer said to himself, “I can keep up there. I will be a professional.”

He was laughed at, nevertheless he wanted to show it all. “It was the most difficult time of my life,” he said of when he arrived in Gladbach in the summer of 1972. Rosenthal’s change was also a product of the good relationship of Borussia with Israel, whose origin was (Moenchengladbach trainer) HENNES WEISWELLER’s friendship with the Israel national team trainer EDI SCHAFFER. There were training camps, test matches, comparisons with the national team. More than 15 times was Borussia in Israel, first in 1970, last in 2008.

Rosenthal lost four kilograms in the first day of training of the 1972 season, learned German industriously and was ready to help Borussia as Libero (sweeper) or in defensive midfield. Rosenthal believed in his chance. A second Israeli, MORDECHAI SPIEGLER, almost came (to Monechengladbach), however, because there were already two foreigners in the squad, nothing became of it. When the season began, Rosenthal was actually in the (first) team; he celebrated his (Bundesliga) debut on September 16, 1972, with the 4-3 (win) against Duisburg. In his third game he created a goal with the 3-1 (win) against Hannover. The technically-experienced Israeli took part in nine games in one piece (on the trot, consecutively).

“Then the weather became worse and I had problems,” confesses Rosenthal.

Only four more league deployments followed. His playing style was too careless for trainer Hennes Weisweller. He became an edge figure (fringe player). On November 25, 1972, he was substituted for the last time with the 0:3 (loss) in Frankfurt.

“That (playing for Borussia Moenchengladbach) was better than the Olympic Games or the World Cup. “(West Germany international midfielder Guenter) NETZER, (Denmark international forward Henning) JENSEN, (West Germany international midfielder Rainer) BONHOFF, (Denmark international forward Allan) SIMONSEN were unbelievable players,” says Rosenthal.

He knows that his compatriots ROBERTO COLAUTTI and GAL ALBERMAN (now both back home with Ligat ha’Al club FC Maccabi Tel Aviv) tried likewise unsuccessfully with Borussia. In the long term, the Israeli players do not have the (same) character which the Germans or Scandanavians have,” says the Pioneer. Only twelve years after him came the second Israeli (to the West German Bundesliga) : DAVID PISANTI, who played in Cologne.

Shmuel Rosenthal was not since his departure from Gladbach any more at the Boekelberg (stadium) and already not at all in the (new) Borussia-Park — “But I know what happens with Borussia,” assures Rosenthal (who, today, works at the national electric company in Tel Aviv).


August 11, 2011


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