The indoor masters used to be the big spectacle during the winter break. The fans loved the close contact with their stars and the colorful happenings on and off the pitch. In 2001 it suddenly came to an end. Meanwhile, not a few miss the legendary stall magic!
Reiner Calmund made a special trip to Florida that winter of 1997 to purify the body with a grain cure and lose some extra pounds. And it went really well. The kilos just dropped. But then he received a serious call from Germany. On the line was Bayer Leverkusen’s football boss Kurt Vossen. And on his way to his winter holiday, he made a little detour to the Indoor Masters, in which Bayer did not take part this year. A fateful stopover for Calmund’s slimming plans, as Vossen later said with a smile: “When I told him about the great buffets in Munich, he immediately took a day’s cure break.”
From 1987 to 2001, the DFB organized the so-called Indoor Masters tournament at different locations. Initially, the event, which was intended as a source of income for the clubs during the then very long winter break, had a difficult time with the audience. But the indoor tournaments in Germany quickly became a real hit. The fans loved the close contact with their stars and the colorful spectacle on and off the pitch. The booth magic developed into a real legend – and had another pleasant side effect for the clubs. The hall became an extremely curious swinger exchange. Transfers that would otherwise never have taken place were easily initiated and then processed here.
And so Reiner Calmund in distant Florida was angry not only because of the culinary delights he missed in Munich that he was not there, but also because, like the other managers, he always used the multi-day spectacle for other purposes: “At the Indoor tournaments have a relaxed and easy-going atmosphere. Just right for such discussions. “
But not all club representatives saw this opportunity as exclusively positive. HSV manager Heribert Bruchhagen knew very well about the danger that his players could of course also be lured away by other clubs in the cozy tournaments – but he saw that he couldn’t do anything about it: “After all, I can’t lock them in or guard them to let.” But sometimes that would have been better. Because some clubs really hurt this change initiation.
The story of the Arveladze brothers
The most prominent example at the time was the aspiring young star Mario Basler. Werder coach Otto Rehhagel did not hesitate for a second when he ran into the then Hertha professional at the Berlin tournament. Immediately he got his phone number on site and for the new season Basler was wearing a different jersey – that of SV Werder Bremen.
The fans and officials also loved something else about the magic of the booth. At the qualifying tournaments for the concluding Indoor Masters, the organizers always presented clubs from afar. And there was always a star at the clubs from abroad who nobody knew before and who afterwards everyone wanted to see play at their club immediately. Like in January 1994, when 1. FC Köln had to admit defeat at its own tournament in the final Dynamo Tbilisi with 3:10.
A player named Rewas “Rezo” Arveladze scored seven hits that day. The FC did not hesitate and signed the man from Tbilisi on the spot. But Arveladze didn’t really feel at home in Cologne. After seven appearances and only one goal, the star’s time from the indoor tournament was soon over again on the Rhine. (For nerds: Incidentally, his brother Artschil Arveladze fared a little better at FC. In the years 2000 to 2003, he made 29 missions in which he scored seven goals)
But the local footballers were suddenly seen in the hall with completely different eyes. It was noticeable that it was not only the small, agile professionals that delighted the audience and the officials. Even players who did not necessarily belong to the filigree technicians suddenly blossomed in the hall. Düsseldorf’s Sven Demandt, Bochum’s Christian Hermann or Bremen’s Uwe Harttgen suddenly scored goals like on an assembly line.
Just not with new shoes
National coach Berti Vogts – actually not a fan of Buden Zauber – saw it the same way: “Small technicians like Bochum’s Wosz and Bonan were enthusiastic. But even a tall guy like Effenberg played well. It’s a matter of attitude. That’s why I was so impressed with top scorer Mill.” The later national player Wosz, incidentally, revealed his very personal secret of success on the sidelines of the games: “I only play in old, worn out shoes. The ball sticks to my foot.”
Ben Redelings is a passionate “chronicler of football madness” (Manni Breuckmann) and supporter of the glorious VfL Bochum. The author, filmmaker and comedian lives in the Ruhr area and tends to his treasure trove of anecdotes. For ntv.de he writes down the most exciting and funniest stories on Tuesdays and Saturdays. More information about Ben Redelings, his current dates and projects can be found on his website www.scudetto.de.
Of course there were exceptions. Players who didn’t like football indoors – such as today’s exceptional coach Jürgen Klopp. He once said that his coach at the time did not really trust him to do the spectacle in the hall: “Dragoslav Stepanovic once asked me before an indoor tournament whether I had played hall before. When I said yes, he only said: Good, but not today.”
As you know in retrospect, there was a curious curse on the DFB booth magic. Because whoever won the Masters as the Bundesliga leaders – like HSV in 1987, Borussia Dortmund in 1992 or Bayer Leverkusen in 1994 – did not become German champions at the end of the season. Whether that was the reason why many clubs were less and less interested in the Indoor Masters in the new millennium, or whether it was because they were still arguing about a (long overdue) slide ban in 2000 – man Do not know.
Since the clubs now had new, different sources of income and the winter break had meanwhile also been shortened, the DFB decided after the last tournament in Dortmund in 2001 to bury the magic of the booth. It’s a shame, because not only the then Bayern coach Erich Ribbeck was able to gain something positive from the colorful spectacle in the dark, cold winter months: “Indoor soccer is really a great thing. Everywhere you look, there are lots of smiling faces.”