One Cap Wonders No. 7: Bernd Hobsch

Tunis, 22nd September 1993

We take ourselves back ten years for the next name in our One Cap Wonders series, and to the journeyman striker Bernd Hobsch – one of the heroes of SV Werder Bremen’s successful 1992/93 Bundesliga campaign.

One of the last generation of players schooled in the former German Democratic Republic, Hobsch would finally make the breakthrough in what was a stunning Rückrunde that saw his goals help propel Werder to the title – and with it earn him a place in Berti Vogts’ national team squad for the visit to Tunisia in September 1993.

Born in Großkugel, a suburb of Kabelsketal in the Land of Sachsen-Anhalt on 7th May 1968, Hobsch would start his career in the DDR youth leagues with Bezirksliga Leipzig club SC Eintracht Schkeuditz, moving to BSG Chemie Böhlen for one season before joining DDR-Oberliga outfit 1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig at the start of the 1986/87 season at the age of eighteen.

The young Hobsch would take time to establish himself at the Zentralstadion, and would score a fairly ordinary fifteen goals in sixty-two outings for Lok between 1987 and 1990. Nevertheless, he would be selected for the East German Under-21 side, where he would score four goals in eleven appearances between 1988 and 1989.

Things would change markedly for the young striker following the reunification of Germany however: with Lok having reverted to its famous pre-war name of VfB Leipzig, the twenty-two year old Hobsch would finally start to prove his value in front of goal.

With thirty-one strikes in seventy-six matches for the Blue-Whites – including fifteen in his first twenty-five 2. Bundesliga appearances – the efficient if unspectacular 6’1″ centre-forward would help take the Saxon club storming up the table, and his fifteenth goal in a 1-0 win over SV Meppen would see VfB in second place at the winter break.

Hobsch’s winner against Meppen would prove to be his final goal for Leipzig, with 1. Bundesliga high-flyers SV Werder Bremen swooping in for his signature. He would make his debut for Die Werderaner in the first match after the Winterpause and would hit the ground running, scoring the final goal in his side’s 3-0 victory over 1. FC Nürnberg to keep them in third place – two points behind leaders Bayern.

Hobsch would score in his next two matches, but would hit a barren patch through March and most of April: he would retain his place in the team however as Werder were still keeping pace with the league leaders. A series of horrific reverses for Bayern – including a somewhat infamous 2-0 defeat at the hands of strugglers SG Wattenscheid 09 – would provide the buildup to what would be a titanic encounter at the Weserstadion, where Werder would overturn an early deficit to beat the Münch’ner 4-1.

The scorer of the final goal that put the final nail in the coffin: yes, Bernd Hobsch.

Bayern would still top the table by a whisker, but the momentum would from this point be with their northern rivals. With the Munich side continuing to slip up as the season rolled to its conclusion, Werder would creep to the top of the table on goal difference with one game remaining – and the 4-1 win against Bayern would prove to be key difference. With Werder two points in front on +33 and Bayern on +29, only the combination of a decent Bayern win in their final fixture against Schalke 04 and a heavy Bremen defeat in Stuttgart could prevent the title going to Otto Rehhagel’s side.

In the end, a dispirited and deflated Bayern could only draw 3-3, while the Grün-Weißen sealed another Bundesliga title with a convincing 3-0 victory, two of the goals coming from Hobsch. With seven goals in his seventeen appearances since the Winterpause Hobsch had not been spectacularly prolific, but his impact would be one of the many key factors that would secure the coveted Meisterschale.

Hobsch would start the 1993/94 season season as he had finished in 1992/93, with four goals from eight league starts including a strike against former club (and newly-promoted) VfB Leipzig and the winner in a tight 1-0 win over… Bayern München. The Bremen striker’s fine form would continue in the Champions’ League, and just under a week before Germany’s friendly against Tunisia he would turn in a stunning performance in the preliminary round against Belarussian Champions Dinamo Minsk, scoring a hat-trick and creating another goal for Wynton Rufer in a 5-2 win.

To nobody’s great surprise the in-form striker would be selected to join the Nationalmannschaft in Tunisia, and the start of what many hoped would be a successful international career. As World Champions, Germany would already be assured of a place in the World Cup finals the following year in the United States – and Hobsch would surely have had his eyes on a place in the squad.

Coming on for defensive midfielder Guido Buchwald in the seventy-seventh minute, Hobsch would arrive on the pitch with the score at 1-1. Andreas Möller had put the Germans in front on fifty-five minutes only for the home side to equalise from the penalty spot eight minutes later, and Nationaltrainer Vogts would send on the twenty-five year old striker in an attempt to up the tempo and win the game.

Joining Möller – playing an advanced role – and fellow Easterner Ulf Kirsten, Hobsch would try his best, but lacking the spark of a Klinsmann or Völler would fail to make a sufficient impression as the game finished with no further goals. Still, twenty-three minutes in a meaningless friendly would hardly be the best examination, and many would have expected Hobsch to pull on the famous white jersey again at least one more time: with no competitive matches leading until the World Cup finals, there would be plenty of opportunities.

Unfortunately, that oh so common combination of injury and poor form would put Hobsch’s international career off course. He would suffer a hamstring injury not long after his international debut, and having scored four times in his first eight Bundesliga matches of 1993/94 he would find the net only four more times in fifteen further appearances that season. The following season would little change for the luckless Bremer striker, as he continued to struggle with injury while finding the back of the net just seven goals in twenty Bundesliga matches.

The good times would never really return for Hobsch, and after a fairly ordinary couple of seasons at the Weserstadion between 1994 and 1997 that would see him find the target only eighteen times in sixty-six games, he would move to French side Stade Rennes where things would get even worse. In an injury-hit season he would take to the field on only three occasions, and would return back to Germany with TSV 1860 München.

Bernd Hobsch, here playing for 1. FC Nürnberg, would arrive just a little too early on the international scene.

Now approaching his thirties, there would be a flicker of the old Bernd Hobsch with 1860 – but by now any hopes of an international career were well and truly over – even with the national side being at its lowest ebb for years and in desperate need of a goalscorer. Hobsch would score eighteen times in thirty-nine games for the Munich side, before moving north to Bavarian rivals 1. FC Nürnberg in the 2. Bundesliga.

Injuries would restrict Hobsch to twenty-nine matches for Der Club in just under three seasons, and at the age thirty-four he would call time on his professional career and head back east for what was a short and sweet swansong – with three goals in six games including an appearance in the Thuringian Cup final – for Oberliga NOFV-Süd side FC Carl Zeiss Jena.

Hobsch would not hang up his boots completely, and would continue to play football for fun – stepping out for Bavarian Kreisliga outfit FC Linde Schwandorf – while also taking on a couple of coaching jobs with Landesliga side DJK Ammerthal and the TSV Ochenbruck 21/25 women’s team.

As well as being one of the many German players to earn just the one international cap, Hobsch would also make his way into the record books as the first player born in the former East Germany to appear for the post-Wende Nationalmannschaft without having previously played for the senior DDR national team. One for all of you trivia stattos and football quiz masters, that.

One Cap Wonders No. 7: Bernd Hobsch
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