So far, I’ve written at length about foreign footballing people who have had a big impact on the game across the world, ones who are all but forgotten within our borders in the United Kingdom.
It may seem that England, the great originators of the game, were arrogantly standing still while the rest of Europe progressed and advanced ‘our’ sport. That is broadly true: the authorities in England didn’t really embrace the need for change until that fateful day in 1953 when the Magical Magyars destroyed 90 years of misplaced confidence.
However, there were several individuals who were far ahead of their time working in football throughout the formative years of the game. One such character was responsible for many of the advancements off the pitch we see today: including the introduction of what could be termed the original footballing doping programme.
“We must free our soccer youth from the shackles of playing to order, along rails as it were. We must give them ideas and encourage them to develop their own.”
That could be the words of any number of observers in the United Kingdom over the last few years, while watching the fluidity of movement of the Spanish or German national sides with envy.
Far from it being a frustrated English youth coach bemoaning the state of football in its home country, these were the thoughts of an Austrian journalist reflecting on one of the greatest teams ever to play the game.
His name was Willy Meisl, and he was writing over half a century ago, in 1955.
The team he was describing, that allowed their players such freedom of expression, was actually coached by his brother: a man who could be described as the father of modern football. Continue reading →