Lars Ricken, in his later years (from his Wikipedia page)
Given that the acronym of “Benny Andrew Hall of Fame” that I’ve decided to establish is BAHOF, and that’s almost Bahnhof which is a German railway station, I thought it only right to give Benny Andrew some German company first of all in his Hall of Fame.
The gentleman who gets the honour is Lars Ricken, most famous for one goal (which is mentioned in this month’s Four Four Two, hence my inspiration) in a Champions League final. However, he’s not only about that goal.
Ricken is a one-club man, having started with Borussia Dortmund in 1993 and eventually retiring in 2009. Though his career was much affected by injury, his 301 league matches for Dortmund brought with them 49 goals from midfield.
His most decisive contribution was of course in that 1997 Champions League final. Juventus were ironed-on favourites for the final that year, having won the previous year’s competition on penalties against Ajax. I remember my nearly 13-year-old self being enraptured by Juve’s unbelievable line-up and was totally convinced they would walk it against the schwarz and gelb. The Italians started with, among others, Peruzzi in goal, Deschamps and Zidane in midfield and Boksic and Vieri up front. The Juve XI was so good that Marcello Lippi started Alessandro Del Piero on the bench!
That’s not to say that Dortmund were slouches, however. Matthias Sammer, Andreas Moller and Karl-Heinz Riedle brought a strong German spine to the side, while Paul Lambert was a surprisingly integral part of the side from the Ruhr for that seminal season in the club’s history.
As it was, of course, the Old Lady’s tag of favourite was destroyed within the first 35 minutes with two quick-fire goals from Riedle. Lippi threw Del Piero on at half time and the move had the desired effect, the future Juve legend pulling a goal back in the 65th minute.
For all of six minutes, Juventus were back in the game. Enter the 20-year old Ricken. On the field for 16 seconds, he collected a beautiful through-ball from Andy Moller and with a first time chip, lofted the ball at speed over Angelo Peruzzi’s head. According to Ricken’s chat with FourFourTwo regarding his goal, he had seemingly been watching Peruzzi for the entire match, noticing he was standing a little bit off his line. It was a stunning goal and came at a perfect time – from then Juve were floored.
While Ricken will always be remembered for that goal, he collected 16 Germany caps, and was an unused member of the squad which reached the World Cup final in 2002. A league win and a UEFA Cup runners-up medal also arrived in 2002, to go with his earlier league title wins and of course that Champions League win in `97.
In short, I’m pleased with my choice to join Benny Andrew in his Hall of Fame. Ricken was a fine player, a stereotypical one-club man who was with Borussia Dortmund in both good times and bad. It’s also a rather lovely coincidence that he scored his best goal, for a team in black and yellow (near enough), in a match his side won 3-1. The football gods have spoken – Lars, welcome to the BAHOF.
Here’s that goal, voted as Dortmund’s best of the Twentieth Century:
The Benny Andrew Hall of Fame: