Copyright: imago sport photo service
On Thursday (January 19, 2023), Jürgen Gelsdorf will celebrate his 70th birthday.
Many Gladbach fans will probably associate him with the lost DFB Cup final in 1992 – a merit of Gelsdorf, on the other hand, has been on Borussia’s turf for years.
Gladbach: Jürgen Gelsdorf, former trainer and promoter of Kramer, turns 70
When Jürgen Gelsdorf was asked about the future of football in December 2009, he became enthusiastic. In an interview for his employer’s club website, Bayer Leverkusen, he talks about an 18-year-old whose development he “really appreciates”.
The teenager who was approached 13 years ago is now a star player for Borussia Mönchengladbach and world champion: Christoph Kramer, now 31, is a real gift from Gelsdorf for Borussia!
Because: In 2009, Gelsdorf was responsible for the offspring of Rhine rivals Borussia – and therefore also for Kramer’s future. Born in Solingen, he was then captain of the Bayer U19s.
“A year and a half ago we had Christoph Kramer, really only because we thought he had been with us before and always performed well,” admitted Gelsdorf. Since then, however, Kramer has developed in such a way “that he is eligible for a place in the license team”.
With his professional outlook for Kramer, the Leverkusen youth leader was right.
Kramer first became a Bundesliga player, then a national player and even a world champion in 2014. A career that was not in sight when Kramer was temporarily finished in Bayer’s youth team in 2006.
Kramer was not found good enough for Bayer’s B youth, he had to step back to the youth of then regional league side Fortuna Düsseldorf. Two years later, Gelsdorf & Co reversed their mistake and brought Kramer back – the path took him to Borussia in 2013.
With the comeback campaign in 2008, Gelsdorf helped Kramer to a Bundesliga career and Borussia to a top player who recently extended his contract until 2025.
So, if you thought the story between Gelsdorf and Borussia would end on November 6, 1992, the day Gelsdorf was dismissed as Borussia coach, you are wrong.
Born in Duisburg, he was only responsible for Gladbach’s fortunes for 13 months – from October 1991 to November 1992.
But he nearly led Borussia to their first title since the ‘Golden 70s’.
Under Gelsdorf, Borussia reached the DFB Cup final in the 1991/92 season. The 2–0 quarter-final win over Bökelberg against Stuttgarter Kickers on 29 October 1991 was one of Gelsdorf’s first games as head coach of Gladbach.
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A semi-final for the history books followed – in the main role not the coach, but the goalkeeper!
Uwe Kamps (58) saved all four penalties in the penalty shootout against Bayer Leverkusen and became a hero.
And Gelsdorf was delighted – above all, to progress against the club he had previously worked for for 15 years as a player, assistant manager and coach.
At the time, everything looked like a perfect scenario for the third Borussia Cup victory – but then came second division Hannover 96.
The history of the final was not written by Gladbach and Gelsdorf, but by Hannover goalkeeper Jörg Sievers, who became a famous hero in the shootout with two penalties saved. He made the second division team a sensational cup winner.
The success story between Gelsdorf and Borussia took a break on May 23, 1992 – then a break in the months that followed.
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After a modest start to the season, Gelsdorf was released on November 5, 1992.
His successor was Bernd Krauss (65), who was only 35 at the time.
Three years later, he will achieve what Gelsdorf was denied on May 23, 1992: winning the DFB Cup with Borussia.
But Gelsdorf had no time to mope after his release.
Just one (!) day later he was signed by league rivals VfL Bochum – and thus wrote Bundesliga history!
Gelsdorf then returned to Leverkusen in 2005 and took over as head of the youth department.
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In this role, he became something of a Gladbach qualix: Time and again, Leverkusen brought out strong young players who performed well in duels with Fohlenelf.
These include René Adler (37), Kevin Kampl (32) and more recently Kai Havertz (23).
In 2015, the paths of Gelsdorf and Kramer crossed again under the Bayer Cross. Kramer played his only Bundesliga season for Leverkusen. Gelsdorf prepared for his departure as a junior chef in order to retire.
“The midfielder with Christoph Kramer and Kevin Kampl represents the path of Bayer 04,” he said in an interview with Kramer in December 2015 about his retirement over Leverkusen’s future.
But barely six months later, everything changed: Kramer returned to Mönchengladbach. He has already played on loan from 2013 to 2015 on Bas-Rhin. Since 2016, Kramer is finally foal.
Gelsdorf, on the other hand, has remained with Bayer to this day – even as a retiree he still leads the football department at TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
The fact that the former Bundesliga player is still fit at 70 is partly down to his passion for cycling. In the summer of 2022, for example, he took part in a day trip by bike for a Bayer fan club.
With the current weather in January, it should still be a bit too cold for a bike ride to Bayer Leverkusen’s away game at Borussia-Park on Sunday (January 22, 2023, 5:30 p.m.).
There is no doubt that the fans and officials of both clubs would thank him for his services.
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