Premier League’ forgotten heroes – Manchester City’s Uwe Rosler

Football FanCast
columnist Emily Brobyn pays
tribute to former Man City star striker, Uwe Rosler.

When I went to my first City game at Goodison Park
in March 1995, I remember walking up the stairs inside the concourse in the
Bullens Road stand, and being completely captivated by the view. I loved the
blinding floodlights, the smell of pies and the close sense of community
amongst the fans. I was instantly addicted.

It was during this time that a certain German
striker was making a name for himself at City. I remember watching the
pre-match warm up and spying Niall Quinn, Paul Walsh and Uwe Rosler all taking
shots on goal against Tony Coton. I had been so excited at watching Rosler for
the first time live- every Saturday I would watch Match of the Day to see him
play for City. He was my favourite player and one of the reasons I became so
passionate about football.

Rosler was signed for City by Brian Horton in Match
1994 to help secure City's Premier League survival. He came from German side
Dynamo Dresden for £500,000 (some reports
say £750,000, still a bargain
), and made an immediate impact, scoring two
goals for the reserves in a midweek game against Burnley. The German then
subsequently made his full City debut on the Saturday, against Queens Park
Rangers, and assisted David Rocastle with one of his goals.

Although he was only signed very late in the
season, his five goals in 12 appearances certainly helped to keep City in the
top flight and immediately endeared him to the Maine Road faithful.

But it was in the 1994/95 season where Rosler
firmly made his mark. Manager Horton decided to play with Nicky Summerbee and
Peter Beagrie as wingers and with Quinn and Walsh helping upfront, Rosler
managed to notch up 22 goals for the season. Rosler was proving himself to be a
battling striker with a never-say-die attitude. He wore his City shirt with
pride and if he could have sweated blood he would have done. He developed
a great partnership with Walsh, and his efforts were recognised by City fans
when they made him the 1994/95 Player of the Year.

'I
work hard everytime and the supporters like this…'
Uwe Rosler

Rosler was flying. He was the club's top scorer
and brimming with confidence. That was until Brian Horton was sacked and
replaced by the late Alan Ball. In the 1995/96 season, Ball promptly
dropped Rosler to the bench, sold Walsh, and with Beagrie injured, decided to
play through the centre of midfield instead of with wingers.

Rosler was downhearted, upset and angry. He still
went on to score 13 goals during the season, and one of the most memorable came
in the Manchester derby at Maine Road. With City 2-1 down, Ball reluctantly
brought Rosler on in the 69th minute off the bench, much to the delight of the
home crowd. Two minutes later, he had scored- and immediately ran in the
direction of Ball, furiously pointing to his shirt number, as if to say
'see, if you put the shirt on my back, I will score'. City fans were
delirious but went on to lose the game 3-2.

'I will not ask for a
move. The only way Uwe Rosler will go from Manchester City is if the manager
calls me and says he's accepted money from another club for me…'
Uwe Rosler

City were painfully relegated to the then First
Division, and Ball was replaced with Frank Clark. Rosler remained determined to
play for City and, despite suffering injuries, scored a further 23 goals
for the club he loved in his last two seasons, at one point scoring seven goals
in six games. But his goals couldn't halt City's slide. When the blues were
relegated to Division Two, Rosler's time at City came to an emotional end. He
left Manchester to join German side Kaiserslautern on a free transfer.

Sadly, Rosler's career dipped after leaving City.
He scored a hat trick for Kaiserslautern in the Champions' League group
stages in season 1998/99 but left to join TeBe Berlin. He has since had
spells at Southampton, West Brom, Unterhaching and Lillestrom. But it was
during his time at Lillestrom where his life was turned upside down.

'I am convinced that I will
win this struggle- the hardest one in my life…'
Uwe Rosler

In April 2003, Rosler suffered a series of coughing
fits during a routine match. He decided to have it looked into further, and an
subsequent x-ray revealed that he was suffering from cancer of the chest.
Fortunately, the cancer was found at a relatively early stage, and the player
with an enormous fighting spirit has since made a full recovery from the
life-threatening disease.

Rosler is now retired from the game, and has since
had varying success in management, firstly with Lillestrom then Viking FC,
both in Norway. But in his prime, he was a superb example of what a
footballer should be. I watched him score for City in my first home match at
Maine Road, against Sheffield Wednesday in April 1996. The game was
completely dull- apart from Rosler's sizzling volley in the 65th
minute. It was my 14th birthday too- so his goal was definitely the icing on
the cake.

He was full of passion, drive and devout
determination. A lot of footballers these days strut around the pitch thinking
the world owes them a favour- that they haven't got enough DB9's cluttering up
their driveways. Where has the passion gone? The pride? The sheer love for the
game? Uwe Rosler had it in spades- and don't City fans know it. The
irony of City's faithful singing Rosler's name at recent games is a hint to all
the current players who don't seem to be pulling their weight and are too
content to float around the pitch for 90 minutes. They should take a leave out
of Rosler's book- stand up and be counted. Put the blue shirt on and play to
the best of your abilities.

The chant about his grandad bombing Old Trafford
may not be true, but Rosler was definitely dynamite for City.