There were no books. No exercises. We didn’t even have the vocabulary to describe the kind of things that were happening on the pitch.
But we did know that this was the future. And we had to figure it out.
Back then, I was player-manager at sixth division FC Viktoria Backnang, outside Stuttgart. We weren’t very good, but we were extremely lucky – on a cold February day in 1983, we chanced upon a genius.
Dynamo Kiev, the team of legendary coach Valeriy Lobanovskyi (below), were staying in a nearby training centre and needed easy opposition for a friendly. A few minutes in, when the ball had gone out for a throw-in, I had to stop and count their players. Something was wrong. Did they have 13 or 14 men on the pitch?
I had played against top teams before – we always lost against them, of course – but they had at least given you the occasional moment of breathing space. Kiev were the first team I had ever come up against who systematically pressed the ball.
That was my football epiphany. I understood that there was a different way of playing.