“Has Kevin Keegan made the right choice in joining the new European Cup Winners Cup holders Hamburg SV?”
That was the question posed by Arthur Rotmil in the July 1977 edition of World Soccer magazine. Of course history has proved that Keegan certainly did make the right choice. After initial struggles at Hamburg following his move from Liverpool, Keegan soon got into the groove and went on to win the European footballer of the year award in 1978, reclaiming the honour and a Bundesliga winners medal in 1979.
Keegan made ninety appearances during three years in Germany, and his integration into German society and culture remains a model for any footballer moving to a new country. However at the time, the media were not as convinced and World Soccer journalist Arthur Rotmil’s assessment of Keegan’s move suggested things would not be so easy.
The original article is featured below and you get a real sense of the difficulties that lay ahead for the England midfielder. Some of Rotmil’s predictions proved correct: coach Rudi Gutendorf lasted only 118 days in the job, his replacement Arkoç Özcan saw his tenure stretch to 245 days before Branko Zebec led Hamburg to a European Cup Final (which they lost to Nottingham Forest) and a Bundesliga title.
In addition to the article, we have a Keegan at Hamburg photo gallery courtesy of Colorsport which you can view by clicking this link. As ever, the pictures are available to buy directly from Colosport as high resolution images, mounted on canvass and framed or printed onto the side of a mug if you prefer.
So here you go then, ‘Has Keegan made the right choice?’ from World Soccer magazine, July 1977 by Arthur Rotmil:
Has Kevin Keegan made the right choice in joining the new European Cup Winners Cup holders Hamburg SV?
Many Germans think that he is making a big mistake in coming to this particular club. There is nothing wrong with the financial aspect of his move, for Hamburg are a wealthy club thanks to big gates, commercial sponsorship and their recent run of success in European tournaments. And the salary, reputedly £90,000 a year, is five times bigger than any footballer in Britain commands today, so what more could the talented and likeable Keegan be asking?
Well, for a start, I doubt very much if anyone has explained to him in greater detail how the Hamburger Sport Verein is run, and more specifically by whom. Their brilliant coach Kuno Klötzer, who has been responsible for their strength on the playing field, has recently resigned after months of unsavoury wrangling with the club's general manager, the controversial Dr. Peter Krohn, the man who bought Keegan. Hamburg's new coach is the ‘globetrotter’ Rudi Gutendorf (50), a man who has coached in Europe, America and Africa. His managerial activities included spells as national coach of Tunisia, with TSV Marl Huls, MSV Duisburg, VM Stuttgart, St. Louis Stars (USA), Schalke, Kickers Offenbach, Sporting Cristal (Peru), as national manager of Chile, with 1860 Munich, then in USA, Bolivia, Venezuela and Valladolid (Spain). Later back with Fortuna Cologne and as a government (!) employed coach in Trinidad, Antigua, Botswana (South Africa) and lately with Tennis Borussia (Berlin), who have just been relegated.
"When Herr Gutendorf was with MSV Duisburg he turned a team of unknowns into championship runners-up. That impressed me so much that I decided he is the right man for Hamburg”, explains Dr. Krohn the new partnership which the Germans call a "marriage" between two human volcanoes!
The two men spent a week on the island of Sylt preparing their plans to make Hamburg SV the new Bundesliga champions. Rudi Gutendorf says: "I wrote a long letter to Dr. Krohn suggesting that any player who did not show convincing form, or at least tried his best, should be dismissed. We need at least two top class men."
True enough Dr. Krohn has engaged Keegan and the Yugoslav World Cup full back Ivan Buljan (28) who holds 30 caps. "We want to revolutionise German football," proclaims Dr. Krohn. "I have complete confidence in Rudi Gutendorf and between us we shall lead Hamburg to new glories."
Objective observers recall, however, similar trumpet blowing made upon the engagement of Kuno Klötzer. This excellent coach never got on with Krohn who is regarded as arrogant, dogmatic and dictatorial. Whenever Hamburg won, it was Dr. Krohn who would hold the centre stage at the Press interviews telling everybody how ‘his’ team won. But after a defeat he would point to Kletzer and say: "Go, talk to him, he is responsible for the defeat". Dr. Krohn and Klötzer clashed publicly many times, especially after Hamburg's 1:3 defeat to Atletico Madrid, when they screamed at each other across the hotel lobby!
Klötzer finally called it a day and has since joined Hertha Berlin. But it is significant that when Hamburg won the Cup Winners Cup the players carried Klötzer on their shoulders in triumph and the thousands of German fans chanted "Kuno, Kuno", thus saluting the man who brought them victory. Furthermore the players specifically asked the management not to break up the winning side, but to keep them together for next season. But now, not only is the team torn apart, not only did Klötzer leave, but with Gutendorf another "showman" has appeared alongside the 'megalomaniac and flamboyant Dr. Krohn.
Into this loaded atmosphere now steps Kevin Keegan, a young man uprooted from his country and way of life, but most of all from the ‘homely’ circle at Anfield Road, where Bill Shankly and now Bob Paisley carried on in a simple, friendly, almost fatherly, but effective manner.
Keegan will soon find out that both Dr. Krohn and Rudi Gutendorf, not to mention the fans, are only interested in success and will not tolerate human failings. Worse still, he may find that several players will resent his and Buljan' s arrival for which two established men must vacate their places. Keegan will not find it easy settling down to playing with Hamburg.
Other ‘mercenaries’ have found out that there are definite barriers. And British "emigrants" have, in the majority rarely settled down to successful careers abroad. Ask Jimmy Greaves, Dennis Law, Joe Baker and more recently Duncan McKenzie!
Keegan's social life may not be as badly affected for his wife Jean supposedly speaks German, they have no children to worry about and should make friends easily among the considerable British colony in Northern Germany, where a number of British troops are still stationed. But he will be exposed to tensions within the club and how he survives those is anybody's guess.
Financially he could not have made it elsewhere, for most German clubs would have refused to pay £500,000 for him - Bayern Munich who called it "a ridiculous fee" and Borussia Mönchengladbach, who on hearing it didn't even bother to make further enquiries, in fact said "No" to Keegan.
Hamburg were in a position where the club simply had to unload its huge profits to avoid paying a hefty tax! Hamburg's takings last season were in excess of £2,500,000! The club is raking in the money from commercial sponsorship as well. The well known Japanese electronics firm of "Hitachi" who make stereos, television sets, radios, etc., pay £125,000 a year for their name being worn on the players' jerseys, Only Borussia Mönchengladbach earn more money in Germany from their sponsors.
HSV's main income comes naturally through the gates. The team plays in the Volksparkstadion, modernised for the World Cup finals of 1974. It offers room for 61,418 spectators, including 28,614 seated, of which 19,182 are under cover.
Admission to Bundesliga championship matches ranges from £2 on the terraces to £3.75 for an uncovered seat and up to £6 for the best seat. There are, incidentally, reductions for schoolboys, students and invalids. The Volksparkstadion is not always full, but games against top League opposition like Bayern Munich, Borussia Mönchengladbach for instance, and some top clashes in the European Cup competitions draw capacity crowds. On such occasions receipts can reach £160,000! From last season's marvellous run in the Cup Winners trophy the HSV hoped to clear over £700,000! Little wonder that Hamburg have made a record profit of £1.12 million over the past two financial years, With this kind of money they are able to tempt top stars who are usually engaged on short term contracts.
Keegan's salary is not the highest at HSV. Internationals like Kargus ('keeper) Nogly (libero) and Volkert (forward) are the top earners there. Next season the club are hoping to cash in even more, since the local club St. Pauli has been promoted and should fill the ground for the local derby. In addition, HSV and Liverpool will stage their games for the so-called "Supercup" in November and December, the home club taking all receipts!
The club management is quite generous. They promised their men £3,750 each for winning the. Cup Winners trophy, but after the triumph over Anderlecht this was increased to £4,500. It is. clear that they look after their playing staff very well and are keen to reward success. But it remains to be seen whether all the financial inducements can compensate Kevin Keegan for the happiness which he got out of playing for Liverpool, but which he may not find in Hamburg.
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