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Wynton Alan Whai "Kiwi" Rufer, CNZM (born 29 December 1962 to a Swissmarker father and a mother of Māori descent) was a New Zealandmarker international footballer, and he is considered his country's greatest ever player.

Playing career

After leaving Rongotai Collegemarker Rufer began his playing career with Wellington United in New Zealandmarker, before representing Stop Out and Miramar Rangers. Making his debut for New Zealand on 16 October 1980 against Kuwaitmarker, he quickly established himself in the All Whites side, and his youthful promise (he was voted New Zealandmarker's Young Player of the Year in 1981 and 1982) attracted the attention of Norwich City manager Ken Brown, who invited Wynton and his brother Shane to Norfolk for a trial.

Rufer impressed and signed a professional contract on 23 October 1981, the first Kiwi footballer to do so. However, he was denied a work permit to play in Englandmarker, so he joined FC Zurich in May 1982, having helped New Zealandmarker to the 1982 FIFA World Cup, scoring the winning goal in a qualification play-off against Chinamarker.

During his time in Switzerlandmarker Rufer converted to Christianity and married his wife, Lisa in 1986 - they have two sons, Caleb and Joshua. He also played for FC Aarau (Switzerlandmarker) and FC Grasshoppers, winning the Swiss Cup in 1988-1989 before moving to Werder Bremen, managed by Otto Rehhagel.

Rufer was an enormous success as part of Rehhagel's team, winning the German Cup in 1990-1991, and scoring in the 2-0 win over AS Monaco in the final of the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1992. His partnership with Klaus Allofs played a major part in Werder's 1992-1993 Bundesliga success, and he was the joint top scorer with Ronald Koeman in the 1993-1994 UEFA Champions League tournament, winning another German Cup that season.

Rufer was also voted Oceania's Player of the Year in 1989, 1990 and 1992.

During the 1994-1995 season Rufer left Bremen to join JEF United of Ichihara in the Japanese J.League, finishing as the club's leading scorer in 1995. When Rehhagel took on the task of resurrecting 1.FC Kaiserslautern's fortunes in 1996, he called upon Rufer to help fire the club back into the German top flight - Rufer's contribution helped the club win the Bundesliga II, although he left before Rehhagel won the Bundesliga the next season.

International career

Rufer pulled on the All White strip 39 times: 23 were full A-international caps, in which he scored 12 goals. At 19 he was the youngest member of the All Whites squad at the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spainmarker, where they lost all three group games, to Scotland, USSR and Brazil.

Coaching career

In 1997 he returned to his homeland, joining Central United and establishing his own coaching school, Wynrs, producing Kiwi football stars such as Mario Hofmann and Michael Fitzgerald, and women's international Annalie Longo.

With his brother Shane, Rufer took on player-coaching duties at North Shore United in 1998, before coaching the national Under-16 squad ahead of the 1999 Junior World Cup Finals. He was appointed player-coach of New Zealandmarker's first professional football team, FC Kingz (later Auckland Kingz), participating in the Australian Soccer League for two seasons before retiring in 2001, having been named Oceania's Player of the Century ahead of Frank Farina (Australia) and Christian Karembeu (New Caledoniamarker/Francemarker).

Background

Rufer is a member of the FIFAmarker Football Committee, with Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer, Michel Platini and Sir Bobby Charlton. He is also involved with the FIFAmarker Ambassadors Against Racism Committee. In 2005 Rufer was the first football/soccer player to be inducted into the NZ Sports Hall of Fame.

Rufer founded the Wynrs football academy for young players. The academy is based in Aucklandmarker, New Zealandmarker.

Honours

Individual



Club

FC Grasshoppers

Werder Bremen

1.FC Kaiserslautern

Personal life

His brother Shane Rufer also represented New Zealand and Wynton's two both sons Caleb and Jonathan are professional footballers.

References

  1. Rufer's a Wynr in New Zealand
  2. Rufer - simply the best we've had
  3. Oceania Player of the Year
  4. The greatest honour for any footballer
  5. FIFA Ambassadors against Racism
  6. WYNRS
  7. WYNRS - Caleb Rufer


External links




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