Jörg Schmadtke can now look back on 38 years in football. Once started as a goalkeeper in colorful jerseys, he later made a name for himself as a manager and “opinion maker”. But he was always a bit too different, too gaudy and too direct for his big career!

“Schmadtke can never be a national goalkeeper. He wears jerseys and trousers that are far too colorful.” The world champion goalkeeper Bodo Illgner once said this sentence about Jörg Schmadtke – and thus actually the entire career of this extraordinary guy, who ended his career (for the time being) this week after 38 years in football – in a nutshell. Jörg Schmadtke was always a bit too different, too gaudy, too direct to have a great career. “Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund were not interested in me,” said the outgoing manager in an interview. It just wouldn’t have fit. Because as the broadcaster Sport1 writes in its “Doppelpass” book about one of the absolute favorite guests: “Jörg Schmadtke often represents the opinion of those who think differently.”

His time as a professional got off to a promising start. On September 28, 1985, he started his career in goal at Fortuna Düsseldorf with a 4-0 win over the great FC Bayern Munich. Clean sheet in the first game. What more do you want? But then we went to Stuttgart. In the end it was 5:0 for the Swabians. A disaster, especially for the young keeper of Fortuna, Jörg Schmadtke. But that it could get much worse, the Düsseldorfer and Schmadtke should learn not even half a year later, again against VfB. Because on March 15, 1986, Stuttgart’s Jürgen Klinsmann was the first player to score five goals in an away game. In the 7-0 win in Düsseldorf, he hit Fortuna goalkeeper Schmadtke’s balls between the 36th and 78th minute of the game – a flawless hat-trick was of course included. Düsseldorf’s coach Dieter Brei spoke very reverently afterwards: “The Stuttgart bowled us up.”

But this sporting humiliation could not upset Schmadtke. Within a very short time he had already matured into a top keeper who could throw even old hands like Gladbach’s Winfried Hannes out of the game. With a sentence typical of Schmadtke, he said after a saved penalty in a win over the Fohlenelf: “I offered him the right corner, but I knew that he would aim to the left.” If you let this statement melt in your mouth for a while, you already understand a lot about the special way of thinking of the man whom Fortuna biographer Michael Bolten rightly calls an “opinion maker”. So it was no coincidence that Schmadtke found himself in the stands one or the other time for disciplinary reasons during his time as a goalkeeper.

As a player for Fortuna Düsseldorf and SC Freiburg, Schmadtke attracted attention not only because of his unmistakable and multicolored jerseys and shorts, but also because he opened his mouth and teased. Not infrequently, however, there were also fine bon mots, like this one after a game of his SC: “The Freiburg team had a first-class man in goal.” Needless to say, he was in the box himself, of course.

After the final end of his career as a professional soccer player in 1998 until he started as sports director at Alemannia Aachen in early December 2001, Schmadtke also completed an extra-occupational internship at Sport1. Perhaps this look “on the other side” was always a little responsible for the fact that his dealings with journalists were characterized more by respect and understanding than by suspicion and reserve. His years at Alemannia, which reached the DFB Cup final and the UEFA Cup during his time as manager and also managed to return to the Bundesliga, were the cornerstone of Schmadtke’s current reputation for being able to make clubs better under his leadership.

Born in Düsseldorf, he perhaps celebrated his best years at 1. FC Köln. Shortly after he took over the then second division team in the summer of 2013, Schmadtke smiled in an unforgettable way for a legendary video in an FC camera. Cologne hadn’t lost the first eight games since the start of the season, were in second place in the table and had just knocked out first division club FSV Mainz 05 from the DFB Cup. The euphoria knew no bounds in the cathedral city. And what does Schmadtke do? He went into the Japanese garden and spoke to the beguiling sounds in a mantra-like endless loop of 1:10 minutes into the microphone: “Dear FC fan, calm down, stay calm … calm, stay calm … calm down stay calm!” At the end of the season, 1. FC Köln had risen to the top of the table – and the calm was long gone.

Together with his trainer Peter Stöger, Schmadtke formed a dazzling and brilliant couple who, according to Ansgar Brinkmann, were so successful because “Stöger and Schmadtke now set up the team, and no longer the ‘Kölner Express'”. And indeed, both of them swam on a wave of success for a long time. Also minor verbal gaffes – “I called the referee Eierkopp. In the Rhineland, where I come from, that’s not an insult” (Schmadtke) and “I offered my glasses to the linesman. But he didn’t see that either” (Stöger) – the two were forgiven in the many months of success. But then, in the 2017/18 season, the tide turned.

FC got off to a catastrophic start to the season and Schmadtke soon reacted to the increasing criticism in an abusive manner. So he snapped at a reporter: “Do you want me to give you an evaluation of the season now, on the third day? The season sucks!” And she didn’t get any better. After many good years, FC and Jörg Schmadtke went their separate ways in October. A separation, however, that did not go unanswered. A year later – Schmadtke had long since arrived at his last station in Wolfsburg – the manager said: “If so-called fans think they have to insult me, we can’t even give them the platform. Untruths are being spread. I think it’s a shame And it hurts me that the old or new Cologne board of directors has not distanced itself from it. Some values ​​have got mixed up at this traditional club.” Jörg Schmadtke was never at a loss for honest words.

Now where he stops, the man who once conquered the Bundesliga with his colorful jerseys and shorts said in an interview to the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”: “I don’t want to hide the fact that parts of the business are more and more disgusting to me.” Unfortunately, this is a commonplace that one often hears from people who turn their backs on professional football. Typically Schmadtke is more a statement he made a few years ago when his striker Anthony Modeste missed a few more chances after two goals and the fans and journalists grumbled: “If a striker scores two goals, he can always be satisfied Go home. But people always want more. They want half a pig for 50 euros – and it should also be kept in a species-appropriate manner.”

A sentence that you can definitely let sink in. Let’s see whether Jörg Schmadtke went home finally satisfied – or whether he will come back again. He doesn’t want to rule that out entirely. Probably depends on how “colorful” his life will be in the future, even without football.