Guide to the 92/93 DB – Magic Even When There is No Hope

The Guide to The MadScientist’s 1992/93 Database for Football Manager 2022 continues to dive into the story of some of the most interesting teams and players of the era, looking for the best saves to enjoy the database. This time, we move over 1,000 kilometres across central Europe to the shores of the Main in Frankfurt to meet a pair of African talents who had to overcome rivals and their own fans to make it in the Bundesliga.

Magic Even When There is No Hope

The name Eintracht Frankfurt has been a mainstay in European football since 1960, when they took on Real Madrid in Hampden Park, in front of over 120,000 people. They would go on to lose 7-3, but since then they’ve appeared in several competitions like the Intertoto Cup, the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, the Cup Winners’ Cup and most famously winning the 1980 UEFA Cup in front of Lothar Matthäus’ Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Eintracht emerged as the winners from a set of all German semifinalists, the only time this has happened in the competition

After winning the UEFA Cup, however, Eintracht began a brief but uneasy downhill run only interrupted by victory in the 1988 German Cup final against Bochum. With the arrival of Jörg Berger to the Eintracht bench in the middle of the 88-89 season, the club avoided relegation and the following year managed to get third place. It was in this context that Anthony Yeboah would arrive at the club.

Born on June 6, 1966, in the city of Kumasi, Yeboah began playing football at the age of 12 for Kotoko Babies, a subsidiary of Kumasi Asante Kotoko. He quickly established himself as one of the best players in his team, he led the Kumasi Cornerstone to qualification for the West African Football Championship in 1986. He would later sign for Okwahu United, where he would remain until 1988.

Yeboah reached the height of his international career in 1992, when he reached the 1992 AFCON final with Ghana. They were beaten 11-10 on penalties by Côte d’Ivoire.

Yeboah’s main attributes were his explosiveness and his speed, but also his powerful shot and ambidextrousness in front of the goal. After winning the title of Ghana’s top scorer for several years, Saarbrücken of the German second division took notice of him and Germany became his landing gate to the old continent. Yeboah became the second black player to play in the Bundesliga after Anthony Baffoe (born in Germany of Ghanaian origin), but it was hard for him to adapt to the league. His first season would see limited production; however, in 1989–90 he would show his quality, scoring 17 goals in 37 league matches, which earned him a transfer to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Once again he’d struggle, although not on the pitch. Yeboah, as well as Baffoe and SG Wattenscheid 09’s Souleyman Sané regularly faced racial abuse, with fans from both sides often chanting slurs, making monkey noises and throwing bananas at the pitch. In January 1993 all three of them wrote an open letter, addressing the issue. “Yeboah was one of the greatest strikers who played in Germany apart from Gerd Müller. He had a big impact on society”, said Jürgen Klopp (at that time a player with Mainz 05) in an interview with The Guardian. “In football, we never thought about racism. If some idiots were shouting something, you realised it but you were saying: ‘Are you mad? What are you doing?’ There wasn’t social media so it didn’t get the awareness of today”. 

“We are ashamed of everyone who screams at us”, reads the painting done in 2014 in the city of Frankfurt, a quote pulled from the open letter

By 1991/92 Dragoslav Stepanovic was Eintracht Frankfurt’s manager. Affectionately known as Steppi and a former player, with him came the popular Fußball 2000, Eintracht’s brand of offensive and fun football. With 76 goals in favour, they were the highest-scoring team in the Bundesliga. Despite the hatred and the difficulties to settle in, Yeboah quickly started flying high, scoring 15 goals in that season.

For most of the 1991/92 season, Eintracht was on top of the standings, reaching the penultimate round with only five defeats. A 2-2 draw at home against Werder Bremen, who had just won the Cup Winners’ Cup and had nothing at stake, complicated things for an Eintracht team that had it in their power to wrap up the league with Stuttgart’s draw.

Tony Yeboah would be top scorer once again in 1993/94, with 18 goals

The last game of the championship seemed simple; an already relegated Hansa Rostock was all that stood between them and their second league title. However, a 2-1 defeat that included a wrongfully disallowed goal, a penalty not given and several shots to the posts meant the team finished third in the league, which was won by Stuttgart. Their team, however, was about to become a whole lot more fun. 

Born August 14, 1973, in Enugu, Nigeria, the story of how Augustine Azuka Okocha arrived in German football reads like it’s from a fantasy novel. Nicknamed after his brother James, Okocha first started playing football on the streets with a makeshift ball. “As far as I can remember, we used to play with anything, with any round thing we could find”, he told the BBC once. “Whenever we managed to get hold of a ball, that was a bonus! I mean it was amazing!”

Jay-Jay Okocha would be part of the iconic Nigeria team that won Olympic gold in Atlanta 1996

In 1990, while he was a player for his local side Enugu Rangers, he went on vacation to Germany to see his friend Binebi Numa, who was playing for Borussia Neunkirchen in the German Third Division. He was invited by the club to take part in the training and they ended up offering him a contract. Okocha spent two seasons with the club, winning the Oberliga Südwest in 1990/91 and the Saarland Cup in 1989/90 and 1991/92. That earned him a move to Frankfurt at the end of the 1991/92 season.

Like Yeboah, Okocha faced a lot of discrimination in his early days. “I never knew I was black until I got to Germany”, he later said, “The racism was so much that the only way to really repay a racist was to keep on dribbling”. Unlike the Ghana international, however, he could rely on his teammate to stand up against it. “Jay-Jay was my boy, I was in Frankfurt when Jay-Jay came from the Third Division, so I took him like a brother because he was also coming from Africa,” Yeboah said speaking to Ghanaian sports outlet GTV Sports+.

Dribble indeed Okocha did. His most famous instance of such marvellous dribbling he was capable of came on in August 1993, when Eintracht Frankfurt hosted Karlsruher SC. On a counter-attack, Okocha received the ball inside the area. He cut left first, but Karlsruher goalkeeper Oliver Kahn covered him, so he went right. Once again, Kahn covered, so Okocha faked a shot which sent the goalkeeper to the ground and went left again. He left another defender on the ground before faking another two shots to open up space for the real one. All that dancing and fainting won him the Bundesliga Goal of the Year for 1993.

Their admiration was mutual. Years later, Okocha would fill Yeboah with praise: “Tony was a great guy. I have played with lots of players but Tony was exceptional, he always [conjures some] magic even when there is no hope. With Tony in the team, you are assured of a goal in every match. He will just pop up out of [nowhere] and get you a goal. I played with so many players during my career, but I remember when I signed for Frankfurt, that’s where I first witnessed pure magic from an African player”.

The 1992/93 season started very well. Yeboah was on fire and would finish top goalscorer in the league, tied on 20 goals with Bayer Leverkusen’s Ulf Kirsten. Such was his brilliance that Eintracht fans started calling themselves Yeboah’s Witnesses. Eintracht kept up the pace until mid-March, but after the elimination in the cup semifinals against Bayer Leverkusen Stepanovic was sacked and the team only got four wins in the last eleven league games.

Klaus Toppmöller was hired as manager for the 1993/94 season. After a great start, reaching the top of the league halfway through the season, Eintracht suffered another mid-season slump and a streak of 9 losses in 15 matches ended Toppmöller’s tenure in Frankfurt. It was in the UEFA Cup where they would make the most waves, such as a 6-0 win against Dinamo Moscow in the first round and their defeat in the round of 16 of Deportivo La Coruña that featured the likes of Bebeto and would finish runners-up in the Spanish top tier. They would be eliminated by Austria Casino Salzburg (the club that would become RB Salzburg) in the quarterfinals, losing on penalties.

Jupp Heyneckes’ Eintracht spell was short and unsuccessful, but it also cost the club some of their biggest talents

However, that was the beginning of the end. On July 1st, 1994, Jupp Heynckes took over Eintracht Frankfurt. Both Yeboah and Okocha, as well as German star Maurizio Gaudino would clash with their new boss over a perceived lack of effort during training. Yeboah would leave for Leeds United in January 1995, whilst Gaudino would soon follow, going out on loan to Manchester City. Okocha would remain for another season, leaving for Fenerbahçe at the end of 1995/96 following Eintracht’s relegation.

Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1992/93 MadScientist Database

The landscape of the Bundesliga in the early 1990s was very different to that which we can find today. As Bayern celebrates their 10th consecutive title (a European record), it would have been unthinkable thirty years ago. Sure, Bayern did win four titles that decade, but Kaiserslautern picked up two, and so did Borussia Dortmund. The Bavarian giants did still rule, but the playing field was much more highly contested. 

It might just be that the 1990s were the most even playing field ever in Bundesliga…apart from the 60s…

It’s in this context that you’ll take over an Eintracht Frankfurt side that has, as it has been discussed, the quality to challenge for the league, but you’ll need every bit of smarts to make that happen against some stingy opposition. Let’s take a look at the club and its players.

Economy and Facilities

The Bundesliga has some of the juiciest competition prizes, which ensures Eintracht is in a solid position economically wise. Also, qualification to the Champions League means plenty more income for the first season. That’s good news, as the club is over their wage budget.

The Commerzbank-Arena is one of the biggest stadiums in Germany’s top tier, but you’ll need to invest in your academy if you want to take advantage of relatively clear and productive hunting grounds in the state of Hesse (an advantage over your North Rhine-Westphalia rivals).

Club Vision

The vision for the club is relatively scaled back. Early on, the board is looking for a dignified performance in the Champions League and a spot in the UEFA Cup next year. They’d like to see the semifinals of the DFB Pokal, but it is only preferred, not a requirement for any prospective managers.

From there on, the idea is to settle as a second fiddle to Bayern Munich, although in the competitive and open Bundesliga of the early 90s, perhaps it is a little too shy. Why not get after the Bavarian giants before they become too unruly for even their Der Klassiker rivals to challenge.

Squad Review

Tony Yeboah

The would-be top goalscorer of the league is at his peak and ready to carry your side into contention in the 1992/93 season. Yeboah may like a bit of technical refinement, but physically he’s able to out-pace and out-muscle pretty much every defender in the league. Good service provided, he’s bound to score lots.

With his great long shots and Player Traits to go, it may be a smart move to use him as a withdrawn striker, having him drop to receive and then turn and shot from distance or look for any teammates running into space, something he’s got the skill and vision to pull off.

Uwe Bein

Yeboah requires great service and this man is bound to be the one providing. At 31, Bein is about to enter the final stage of his career, but he still has a lot to give. With prodigious technique, passing vision and decision making, he’ll be a key man for your first couple of seasons, and maybe even after that.

Spare a thought for his near-perfect free-kick taking, as he’ll surely be a great tool both from set-pieces as well as putting home any scoring situations that Yeboah can gain for him if he’s fouled outside the box.

Jay-Jay Okocha

There are other better, more developed players in the Eintracht squad, but it’s impossible to overlook the mesmeric magician that is (or will become) Jay-Jay Okocha. At just 18, the Nigerian is more one for the future, and will surely require some development until he becomes a surefire starter.

However, he’s already got a killer dribble, an eye for a pass and the flair to go with it. Using him from the bench as a super-sub to unleash him on tyring defenders might just be unstoppable, or even a little cruel on those unsuspecting centrebacks.

Potential Signings

Eintracht Frankfurt is probably the hardest club we’ve done in terms of possible signings, as it starts with little in terms of transfer budget and over their wage budget. However, there’s always some wheelin-and-dealin that can be done, so let’s see who we can bring to secure that spot in next year’s continental competitions

Brian Jensen

The fullbacks are probably the squad’s weakest positions, not only in terms of skill but also in depth. To begin to fix that issue on the left, we can go after Denmark’s Brian Jensen. At 24 years old, the Brondby man is a very capable allrounder, who can defend as well as transition into attack.

He will only cost you around €500k and ask for sensible wages. Be sure to adjust your budget slider or you won’t be able to afford… anyone.

Ángel Alcazar

On the other flank we have Spaniard Ángel Alcazar. He’s a bit more expensive than Jensen, but also much more necessary as your options on the right are… limited. In the Sporting Gijon man you have a brave and hard-working defender, who can put in a last-ditch tackle and also run forwards for a good cross.

He’ll cost you twice as much as Jensen at €1M and the 25-year-old is certainly looking to make his payday with quite hefty wages, but again… you don’t really have much of a choice.

Matthias Maucksch

After German unification in 1991, the East Germany market became a free for all as the more economically powerful West Germany clubs pretty much plundered their new rivals for their most talented players. A Dynamo Dresden youth product, Maucksch would be one of the few that didn’t cross into the western side, but maybe you can change that.

A very sound defensive midfielder, Maucksch is a great signing for a position where Eintracht is a bit exposed. Shining for his great mental attributes and all-round physicals, but can also play a bit of football, with decent passing and first touch. It took me €800K and winger Dirk Wolf in exchange for Dynamo Dresden to seal the deal, but with other big German clubs after Maucksch signature, you’ll be wise to do the same.

Published by fromero92

Argentinian writer and journalist

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