Jörg Albertz – The Ibrox Hammer!

Copyright – Rangers Football Club

Not many a foreign player arrives and instantly becomes a fan favourite.

Yet it didn’t take the Rangers faithful long before they fell in love with new German recruit Jörg Albertz when he arrived in Govan in the summer of 1996.

The Ibrox club paid out £4m to Hamburg to sign their club captain.

In 1996, the internet wasn’t the all knowing beast that it is today, so our footballing knowledge when it came to the continent wasn’t as good as it is now. Personally I’d get most of my Bundesliga news from Eurogoals on Eurosport and from the World Soccer magazine. But even then you couldn’t really get a feel for a player, unless you could see their team in one of UEFA’s club competitions playing against a British side or in a final.

That meant when Albertz and fellow new boy Joachim Bjorklund signed on in, a lot of us knew relatively little about the pair. We actually had more info on the Swedish defender because he was in their national team and had played for a pretty decent IFK Goteborg side in the mid-nineties.

I’m not joking when I say the first real info I got on Albertz came from a radio interview by Paul Gascoigne. In that interview, Gazza told us that the ‘Big German ginger fella looks good’.

In fairness to Gascoigne, he wasn’t wrong!

The Monchengladbach native just seemed to get what it meant to play for Glasgow Rangers. He just had the passion and desire that was needed to fill out the Light Blue jersey.

At first Albertz played as a makeshift left-back under Walter Smith during the nine in a row winning season. Although he was always at his best when playing in midfield.

He was very much a left footed footballer but that isn’t a bad thing if you possessed a wondrous left foot as Jörg did. He could use it to delightfully place a superb cross field pass that would pick out a talented forward like Brian Laudrup. He also had a great powerful run on him, complete with good close control, and that allowed him to venture forward with great strides.

The German was called ‘The Hammer’ when he arrived in Glasgow and with good reason. Albertz possessed tree trunk like thighs and the left foot would often be used to strike the ball at goal with ferocious power. He also had a the knack of being deadly accurate.

It didn’t seem to matter if his shot was from open play or from a set-piece, if Jörg hit a drive and it was on target then more often than not it was hitting the hit. God help any defender or goalkeeper that got in the way!

I suppose the first standout moment where we saw this, was when the former Hamburg captain smashed in a free-kick against Old Firm rivals Celtic in his debut season.

Rangers had a free-kick from a fair bit out, Albertz would then take a long run up (probably seven strides for The Hammer). He strode forward with real purpose and then smashed the ball with his lethal left boot. The ball swerved past the wall and beyond The Hoops goalkeeper and nestled into the back of the net.

If it wasn’t already, then the legend of The Hammer was born on that day.

His ability to score from free-kicks was phenomenal, he just seemed to have the right state of mind when it came to those situations. Jörg was also calm and collected when facing goalies from the penalty spot. His tact often changed in those situations as he would cooly try and pass his spot kicks into the corners of the net, instead of just smashing them in with sheer power.

Shots would fly in like supersonic arrows and from anywhere inside the oppositions half. He didn’t always need a great deal of time to think about placement, sometimes it was just a case of steadying himself as the ball crossed his body and onto that thunderous left foot. The Gers fan favourite could also hit in fierce volleys from the edge of the area too.

The goals would be followed by joyous celebrations as the German would either blow kisses into the stands or he’s lovingly kiss the Rangers crest on his chest. He was a player that just glowed when he was playing in a Rangers shirt!

Albertz was very much a player for the big occasion. I remember one season (the ill-fated ten in a row campaign) when he scored almost identical wonder goals against Celtic. He simply picked up the ball in a deep position, strode forward with opposition players bouncing off of him or making pointless diving tackles and then he got it onto his favoured side and just hit a pile-driver. It wasn’t just against the Glasgow rivals either, he popped up with important goals against the likes of Parma, PSV and Bayern Munich too.

Jörg Albertz was a cult hero in Govan and he was one that constantly delivered. He spoke English with a slight Glaswegian twinge and he adored the Gers support and they adored him.

He probably departed Ibrox too soon but it was clear that he had a tense relationship with disciplinarian Dutch coach Dick Advocaat. The Gers hero has said as much himself:

Yes, I would have stayed longer but unfortunately I did not get along with Dick Advocaat.’

But in his five years in Glasgow, Albertz made 252 appearances and scored a whopping 82 goals! That’s a tremendous record for any midfielder. The German internationalist would also leave with three league titles, two Scottish Cups and two League Cup winners medals.

For me, it was a joy to watch Jorg Albertz at Ibrox. Not just because of the cracking strikes but for the smile he constantly had on his face and the smile the fans would have when watching him play.

One Response to “Jörg Albertz – The Ibrox Hammer!”

  1. He always scored against the green teams!!!

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