1.01.2023Bayer 04

Birthday boy of the month: Jürgen Gelsdorf turns 70

Jürgen Gelsdorf was born in Duisburg on 19 January 1953. As a teenager he was at MSV Duisburg where he played for the U19 side alongside Klaus Bruckmann, his future teammate at Bayer 04. His coach back then was a certain Willibert Kremer.

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"Gelle", as his teammates called him, moved on from MSV Duisburg to Arminia Bielefeld in the second Bundesliga North where he scored four goals in 120 games for the team from Westphalia. As former youth coach Willibert Kremer was appointed head coach at Leverkusen in 1976. Kremer remembered the youngster and brought him under the Bayer Cross. Jürgen Gelsdorf is a fixture in the Leverkusen team for next ten years and gains promotion to the Bundesliga with the team in 1979. He made a total of 320 Bundesliga and cup appearances for Bayer 04 scoring 30 goals. However, he demonstrated his qualities in defence. "Gelle" played as a central defender, as a sweeper, but always went into challenges without fear and he never minded doing the basics. Sleeves up, socks down, without shin pads of course, and off we go.

His worst days under the Bayer Cross came in 1980 in the 3-2 home win against Eintracht Frankfurt. In a challenge that was generally accepted at the time, he tackles the South Korean striker and future teammate Bum-kun Cha who unluckily lands on the knee of the Bayer 04 sweeper and he suffers a back injury. The hate campaign against Jürgen Gelsdorf assumes absurd proportions. Sensational headlines and articles fill the TV reports and hate mail comes through to the Bayer 04 headquarters and his home address. He received police protection both at the training ground and at his home. Jürgen Gelsdorf writes an open letter where he describes the situation from his viewpoint. At the end of the letter, he wishes Bum-kun Cha a speedy recovery and that happens with the Frankfurt player only missing four matches. The two players meet up at the cup game at Kickers Offenbach and Cha accepts the apology from Jürgen Gelsdorf.



In his final season in 1985/86, Gelle is a standby player as he does his coaching badges. However, he is needed in the Rückrunde to achieve a first qualification for the UEFA Cup. He makes another six appearances and then in 1986/87 takes charge of the Bayer 04 U19 team. In 1988, the new head coach Rinus Michels promotes brings him into the senior squad as assistant coach alongside Gerd Kentschke. Gelle replaces the hapless Dutchman in April 1989 and is at the helm as Bayer 04 as head coach for the next two years.

After that, he is the coach at several clubs in different leagues for 14 years. Regardless of whether that's at Bochum in the Bundesliga or with Fortuna Köln in the second division: Gelle has fun as a coach and carries on to 2005. Bayer 04 then bring him back as head of the academy. From October 2005, he leads the development of talents for the next ten years and that includes Gonzalo Castro, René Adler, Benjamin Henrichs and Kai Havertz, to name just a few.

Juergen Gelsdorf retired in 2015 but has continued as head of the football section at TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen.

Dear Gelle, I wish you all the best on your 70th birthday. Carry on as you are and stay fit and healthy.



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