“And suddenly there was a world star. Darko Pancev was supposed to ensure survival in the Bundesliga, which, given his vita, was not a dream, but rather a realistic goal. The national striker of Yugoslavia had previously become World Cup winner and Eurocup winner of the national champions and had also secured the Golden Shoe as the best goalkeeper in Europe in 1991. Now he was to save the VfB Leipzig.
The endeavor failed. Although the attacker, on loan from Inter Milan during the winter break, scored two goals in the return leg, the VfB relegated from Germany’s elite football elite with just three wins and a total of 17 points.
For the Saxons, it was the beginning of the end 26 years ago. After two insolvency proceedings and the dissolution of the club in 2004, the successor club 1. FC Lok Leipzig is now fighting for a return to paid football. The odds are not bad.
Wolfgang Wolf is largely responsible for the fact that they are once again having fun with the kicking industry in Leipzig, even away from the retort model RB. The 62-year-old has already led VfL Wolfsburg, 1. FC Nürnberg and Hansa Rostock, since October last year he has been trimming Lok for success – he is head coach and sports director in personal union.
Master at the Green Table
When the championship in the Regionalliga Nordost was only lowered and finally cancelled due to the Corona pandemic in March, the club was only in second place. But the applied quotient rule, according to which the plus points of each team are divided by the number of games completed and then multiplied by 100, propelled Wolf’s men past the frontrunners VSG Altglienicke and now gives them two finals for promotion to the Third League. Against SC Verl, the coup is to succeed on Thursday (5 pm, MDR/MagentaSport) and next Tuesday (4 pm).
“It was a very strange situation,” Wolf says of the Regional League championship won at the Green Table. “Everyone took a sip of it with their families. The great emotions were totally missing.” They could now follow on Tuesday, when Lok travels to East Westphalia for the relegation rematch.
However, there is still an unresolved question as to the exact location of the game. Verl belongs to the district of Gütersloh, for which Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) has again imposed strict Corona restrictions. The club grounds of the SC are only 15 kilometres from the slaughterhouse of Tönnies in Rheda-Wiedenbrück. There was an outbreak of the coronavirus. In the meantime, according to the district of Gütersloh, more than 1500 Tönnies employees have been reportedly infected. It is not yet clear which stadium Verl is now going to.
For Wolf, no reason to get restless. He expects a few hundred fans to accompany the club to the decisive game, but wants to take care of the task in the home game first. “The decisive factor will be which team can cope better with the long break,” he says. His team played the last mandatory match on February 28 (4:2 against Meuselwitz), Verl was not active since February 29.
Wave of sympathy
Nevertheless, the Saxon club was able to rejoice at the remarkable support of its fans during the lockdown phase. With the broadcast of a virtual game, Leipzig set a spectator record. 182,612 fans watched the 5-0 success against an invisible opponent in May. Lok had started the fundraiser “People, make the stall full” in mid-March and wanted to break the record of 120,000 spectators who had followed the legendary 6:5 success after penalty shootout against Girondins Bordeaux in the European Cup semi-finals in 1987.
Each donor could watch the game for at least one euro. “I’m surprised by people’s sympathies and helpfulness,” Wolf says. “You can see the love people give to the club. These are not just rich people. I can only pull my hat.”
The club has also come up with something nice for the showdown with Verl. Fans can buy a lucky pig for the price of 15 euros, which takes the seat of the spectator in the grandstand in the home stadium. All purchased pigs should also take the trip to verl for the return game. And if all this leads to success, Darko Pancev could actually open again in Leipzig. The former world star would have had time . His contract as sporting director of Vardar Skopje expired in 2019.