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Willem Bergher
Willem bergher 2012
Personal information
Full name Willem Bergher
Born 8 August 1955
Height 1.68 m
Club information
Years active 1970-1989
Position Forward
Club history
Flag of Brunant Victoria Niesburg 1970-1972
Flag of Brunant FC Drenthe 1972-1988
Flag of Brunant Victoria Niesburg 1988-1989
National team
Senior squad: 1977-1988

Willem Bergher (born 1955, Brugge) is a Brunanter former footballer and coach. Bergher is one of the most revered footballers in Brunanter history and is greatly revered in FC Drenthe and the Brunant national football team. He is currently the coach for the national team.

CareerEdit

Early life and careerEdit

Bergher was born in Bruges (Belgium) to Brunanter parents. He moved to Niesburg at an early age with his family. Young Bergher played football with the local neighborhood kids but was often excluded for being "too good" for them [1].

In 1969 he was given a trial with local side Victoria Niesburg, which he idolized as a boy, at the age of 14. He made his first appearance for the senior side in the 1970-71 season of the Cape Cross League and scored five goals in his three appearances. In 1971-72, he appeared in nine games and scored ten times (the tournament's top scorer) to help his club to the leauge championship and promotion playoffs, but could not get them to the 2. Liga. That season Bergher was advised by his coach to look elsewhere for opportunities, since he would find few challenges at the club and league [2].

FC DrentheEdit

Bergher

Bergher in 1987

In the summer of 1972, Bergher was approached by many clubs (including Dutch side VVV Venlo) but he elected to join FC Drenthe, as he did not want to leave Brunant. He signed on for a hefty 585,000 Thalers (about US$240,000)[3].

Despite his skill and all the hype, young Bergher did not play for the top side in the 1972-73 season, apart from one game in the Johan II Cup. His debut in the 1. Liga took place in October 1973, at the age of 18. In his first season, he appeared 9 times in the league but only managed to score two goals. A managerial change in December saw him benched for the rest of the season, as the new coach expected more from Bergher. The 1975-76 season saw Bergher's breakthrough in football. He appeared in 27 games and scored a league-high 15 goals as Drenthe won their eight league title. In 1976-77 and 1977-78, he was plagues by injuries, many coming from fouls by burly defensemen. In 1978-79, he was back in shape and scored 10 goals, as well as four in the cup.

The 1979-80 season was considered by many to be one of Bergher's best. In the league he had a total of 29 appearances[4] and managed to score 17 goals, which was a league record. In the Johan II Cup, he scored two goals in the quarter-final win over the Grijzestad Strijders (3-1), had one assist and one goal in the semifinal win against Middleton Arrows (2-0) and scored a stunner 16 yard free-kick in the 4-1 finals loss to St. Marks Koningstad. The next few seasons, Bergher would develop into a free-kick specialist, with stunning goals versus St. Marks, Grijzestad and Brunant Leuwens in 1981 and 1982. In 1982 he was awarded Total Football's "Golden Flower" award for most league goals (15); by then Berher surpassed the league record in most goals of Felipe Castilla (181), set in 1963. Despite celebrating 10 years at the club, he had only picked up one club honour. In 1984 he would again be the league's top scorer, with a paltry 12 goals. By then, many of his old teammates were retiring and he would be joined by younger players like Adam Steiner and George Michálek.

Bergher and Drenthe would find success again in 1985-86. After a top-class season, including a massive 1-5 away win vs. St. Marks (including a Bergher brace), Drenthe won the first league again. In the 1987-88 season Bergher helped his side to yet another league win, despite having only 17 appearances and 6 goals. This would be his last season with Drenthe, as his contract expired in the summer of 1988. At the end of the 1987-88 season Bergher finished with an impressive 398 appearances and a league-record 268 goals, which stands to this day.

Return to VictoriaEdit

In 1988, at the age of 33, Bergher returned to Victoria Niesburg on a free transfer. He elected to play for a salary of just 100 thalers, "enough to cover for dinner after matches". Bergher saw just five appearances in the 1988-89 season and managed one goal from the penalty spot.


National teamEdit

Bergher goal 1978

Bergher's "miracle goal" versus Italy

Bergher was first called up to the national team in 1975, in a friendly versus Yugoslavia (a 2-0 loss). His last appearance was in 1988. During his time with the national team, he scored a record of 25 goals in 40 appearances, only behind Florian Evers.

WFC 1976Edit

His first tournament was the 1976 edition of the World Football Championship. He only appeared in one of the three group matches, in a 1-1 draw with Malta. Bergher (and Brunant's) performance would be greatly hailed in the quarter-final match against powerhouse and 2-time world champion Italy. Against several top-class footballers, Brunant's defense was able to break down the Italians' attacks. In the 73rd minute, a defensive blunder allowed Bergher to slip into the box and beat keeper Ivano Bordon to make it 0-1 (Brunant held on for the win and Italy was shockingly knocked out[5]. In the semifinal, versus Trinidad and Tobago, Bergher set up both goals for the 2-0 win, but was controversially red-carded for an apparent foul on a Trinidadian forward. Bergher missed out on the final and Brunant lost 3-1 to Chile.

WFC 1980Edit

In the 1980 Micronations, Bergher featured prominently in the tournament. He scored two goals in the group stage (versus Singapore and Monaco). In the quarter-final against Togo, Bergher scored one as Brunant won 2-0. In the semifinal vs. Inselöarna, Bergher scored a penalty to give Brunant a slim win. Brunant made it to the finals, only their third appearance since 1952. Playing Czechoslovakia, Brunant were down 1-0 in the first half but Bergher equalized and the game ended 3-2 for Brunant, which was was their first championship win.

Later appearancesEdit

In the 1984 tournament, Bergher started off the tournament with a 3-0 solo effort against Liechtenstein and in the second group game, he assisted a goal in the 2-2 draw with Singapore. In the final group game (a 1-1 draw vs. Austria), Bergher scored an early 9th minute goal but was heavily fouled by midfielder Felix Gasselich. Bergher was subbed off at halftime and would not play for the rest of the tournament [6].

Bergher officially retired in 1985 after a friendly versus Ecuador. For the 1988 tournament, Bergher was surprisingly called on as a last-minute replacement for an injured player. By then 33 years old, he was not expected to play much. But, Bergher capitalized on his first appearance and scored four goals, including two versus Libertas in a semifinal match.

Coaching careerEdit

In 1993, Bergher was hired by Libertan team FC Civitesse to be their coach. Coming on mid-season, he led the team to their fourth title. In 1995 he again led the team to a league title. Bergher was fired in 1996 after poor performances. In 1999-2000, he coached a Middleton side who finished second in the Brunanter 1st league but was fired midway through the following season. He was soon hired by FC Kings and he helped the team reach second place. After a mediocre season in 2002-03, he coached Kings to first place in the league in 2003-04. The following season Kings had a sloppy start and Bergher quit in December. Bergher then moved to coach 2. Liga side FC Willemstad.

Personal lifeEdit

Bergher was married in October 1979. He has two sons, Philip and Piet, who is a footballer with Manchester Cape Cross in the Cape Cross league.

CharityEdit

In 1992 Bergher started the Kicks Foundation to get undeprivileged kids a chance to play in organized sports (football) and to get all children to be active in sports. Bergher's work has allowed children from the poor communities in Drenthe Parish to participate in clubs in the country.

Honors and recordsEdit

As playerEdit

  • Cape Cross Parish league champion: 1972 (Victoria Niesburg)
  • 1st league champion: 1975-76, 1985-86, 1987-88 (FC Drenthe)
  • World Football Championship champion: 1980, 1984
  • Total Football Golden Flower award: 1982, 1984 (FC Drenthe)
  • IFFHS Player of the Century Brunant: 2000

As coachEdit

  • Libertas League champion: 1993, 1995 (FC Civitesse)
  • Libertan Supercup: 1995 (FC Civitesse)
  • 1st league champion: 2003-04 (FC Kings)

In November 2003, to celebrate UEFA's Jubilee, he was selected as the Golden Player of Brunant as their most outstanding player of the past 50 years

International goalsEdit

# Date Location Opponent Competition
1. 1977 Luxembourg, Luxembourg Luxembourg Friendly
2. 1978 Udine, Italy Italy Micronations World Cup
3. 1979 Grijzestad, Brunant Inselöarna Friendly
4. 1979 Lisbon, Portugal Portugal Friendly
5. 1979 Lisbon, Portugal Portugal Friendly
6. 1980 Yugoslavia Singapore WFC
7. 1980 Yugoslavia Kemburg WFC
8. 1980 Yugoslavia Togo WFC
9. 1980 Yugoslavia Czechoslovakia WFC
10. 1980 Drenthe, Brunant Libertas Libertas-Brunant Cup
11. 1981 Koningstad, Brunant Germany Friendly
12. 1981 Dakar, Senegal Senegal Friendly
13. 1981 Dakar, Senegal Senegal Friendly
14. 1981 Wikistad, Libertas Libertas Libertas-Brunant Cup[7]
15. 1981 Grijzestad, Brunant Libertas Libertas-Brunant Cup
16. 1982 Stade Louis II, Monaco Monaco Friendly
17. 1983 Lima, Peru Peru Friendly
18. 1983 Lima, Peru Peru Friendly
19. 1984 Koningstad, Brunant East Germany 1984 Olympics qualification
21. 1984 Mäöres Liechtenstein WFC
22. 1984 Mäöres Liechtenstein WFC
23. 1984 Mäöres Liechtenstein WFC
24. 1984 Mäöres Austria WFC
25. 1985 Victoria, Libertas Libertas Libertas-Brunant Cup

NotesEdit

  1. This was revealed on BBN's series Top Football (2 June 2004).
  2. Since Victoria was a small and poor club, they would have been unable to afford his salary had he remained at the club.
  3. In 2012, his transfer fee would be equivalent to €1.16 million.
  4. He missed one game for his wedding
  5. Bergher later cited this as his greatest goal in his career.
  6. Brunant was still able to win it, beating Cape Verde 5-1
  7. The Libertas-Brunant Cup was a friendly tournament between the Brunanter national teams from 1980 to 1991. Games were played over two legs, one in Brunant and one in Libertas.
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