Heroes In Black & White (15): Jürgen Kohler

Posted on 04/11/2010

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For fans of a certain generation Jürgen Kohler represents, along with Lillian Thuram & Paolo Montero, one of the greatest foreign defenders ever to play for Juventus. With a tradition of having the best Italian defenders available it takes an extremely talented player for la Vecchia Signora to look further afield when it comes to reinforcing the back line.
In the early 1990’s Juve were trying in vain to overhaul the dominance of Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan side, perhaps the greatest club team ever assembled. With the revolutionary tactics of the coach, & the goals of Marco Van Basten, the Rossonerilooked invincible & then Juve President Giampiero Boniperti knew he had to help his club topple Berlusconi’s machine.
During both the European Championships of 1988 & the World Cup of 1990, Kohler had come closer than anyone to nullifying the threat of Van Basten & Juventus quickly added the Bayern München defender to their squad in the summer of 1991. By then he had already won both the World Cup & Bundesliga titles, having made his International debut aged just 20.
He made his professional debut two years before that at SV Waldhof Mannheim, before moving to FC Köln then catching the eye of the Munich giants. Kohler’s ability to read the game & intelligent closing down of attackers, his formidable tackling & imperious heading all contributed to making him one of the best defenders of his era. The German also had an impressive goal scoring record for a defender, with 36 to his name.
With Kohler settled into the team, he formed an excellent defensive unit with men like Ciro Ferrara, Massimo Carrera & Andrea Fortunato. First came a UEFA Cup win in 1993, then an Italian Cup victory in 1995. That was also the year Juve finally overcame Milan, winning the league by ten points, with Kohler playing a vital role in all three victories.
It was sadly his last season in Turin, as he moved back to Germany, joining Borussia Dortmund, the team Juventus defeated in that 1993 Final. There he won another league title in his very first season. His second year would be even better, helping his new club to the Champions League Final & coming full circle to face Juventus. Impressive in the 3-1 win he would play another six years for Dortmund, winning another league title, the Intercontinental Cup & a UEFA Cup.
But perhaps as much as his impressive displays for Juventus, fans will remember the German for something he did following that Champions League win in 1997. Collecting the trophy & his medal, he displayed affection for his former club, wearing a Bianconeri scarf given to him during the lap of honour. A true gesture oflo Spirito Juve he embodied, & for that Jürgen Kohler will always be a Juve legend.
Source: Il Tifosi
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