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'Surprise result is possible' says ex-Kickers player

Fourth-tier Kickers Offenbach are the lowest-ranked team left in the German Cup and are due to take on Gladbach on Wednesday. Former player Winfried Schäfer tells DW the minnows do have a chance of progressing though.

DW: You were on the pitch for Offenbach's biggest football success when the team beat FC Cologne to take the 1970 German Cup title. How was it for you?

Winfried Schäfer: It was a weird match actually. I had played for Gladbach in the 1970 season and then I wanted to move to Cologne. They wanted me there too, but some players had complained, so I ripped up the contract. I couldn't go back to Mönchengladbach, so I moved to Offenbach instead. And then, what do you know, I had to play against Cologne in the German Cup final, against the very players who didn't want me.

It was a great game for me. I can still remember how Wolfgang Overath kept running after me and just couldn't keep up. It was a great team effort. The stadium was full. There was a short break, there was a penalty that shouldn't have been given and Werner Biskup missed it. There were some really dramatic scenes on the pitch but in the end, it was a huge success.

Winfried Schäfer

Schäfer, in action for Gladbach in the late 70s

The club is now down in the fourth division? What happened?

I had five great years at the club. But, then there was the Bundesliga scandal where a number of clubs were implicated in games that were fixed and Offenbach dropped into the regional leagues. They then got promoted again - we beat Gladbach, we beat the league champions. It was a great atmosphere. It's sad to see what has happened to the club nowdays, but this often happens at old clubs, like Rot-Weiss Essen too. The leadership at the top is not optimal, and that's the main problem.

What are Offenbach's strengths as a club?

We always compared ourselves to our local rivals Eintracht Frankfurt. They were a bit more diva-like, Offenbach was more of a working-class club. You see that amongst the fans and the team as well. The people supporting us in the stands didn't want us to play tricky football. They wanted to see us work for a win. We won our games through sheer power and lots of running. Just wanting to be better than Eintracht Frankfurt was always a motivation too.

Offenbach are basically unbeaten this season and are currently top of the south west region of the German fourth division. Do they have any chance of beating Borussia Mönchengladbach in this game do you think?

Winfried Schäfer

Since 2013, Schäfer has been head coach of Jamaica

Football is unpredictable. The Offenbacher Kickers played well against Wolfsburg at home two years ago. They lost in the end but if things work out, it won't be easy for Borussia Mönchengladbach on Wednesday. Gladbach obviously play a high standard of football, but they sometimes shy away from their tackles. If the Kickers attack and score an early goal, then even a team like Gladbach can get nervous and make mistakes. A surprise is possible, I'm convinced of that.

What would getting through to the quarterfinals of the competition mean for Offenbach?

Of course the Offenbach fans will go crazy if the Kickers win, but it will also be a big financial bonus for the club. They currently have a mountain of debt. With a win against Gladbach, they could pay off some of that, and they could relax a bit and things would run a bit smoother. It would be great if Offenbach could get up to the second division, then they have something to aim for. And maybe it will help them get back to the top level again. Of course it is a long and difficult path, but success like this can make a difference.

Winfried Schäfer played over 400 Bundesliga games for Kickers Offenbach, Karlsruhe and Borussia Mönchengladbach. Schäfer won the German Cup final with Offenbach in 1970. He now works as head coach of Jamaica's national team.

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