No. 15 Ralph Klein

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April 23, 2008 06:20
1 minute read.

That Ralph Klein is the highest placed coach in this list is no coincidence. Born in Germany in 1931, Klein, survived the Holocaust with his mother, brother and sister thanks to the efforts of Swedish humanitarian Raoul Wallenberg, but his father was murdered in Auschwitz. Klein played basketball in the Hungarian league after the war until 1951 when he left Budapest for Israel with his mother. He quickly found a place at Maccabi Tel Aviv and captained the team to a championship and a State Cup. Klein was also an Israel international and finished among the top five scorers at the 1959 European Championships. After 14 seasons as a player Klein turned to coaching and in 1970 was appointed as the Maccabi coach. His brightest moment at Maccabi came in the 1976/77 season when he guided the team to its first European Championship title, claiming an historic victory over CSKA Moscow on the way. "I told the players that if we defeat the Soviets we will make history. We felt like we were fighting for the country and that's how I motivated the players," Klein once said. Another of his greatest triumphs came in 1979 when he led the Israel national team to a second place finish in the European Championships. Four years later Klein made a triumphant return to Germany when he was appointed as the country's national team coach. "I saw this as a personal victory over the Germans. The big and strong Germany was inviting an Israeli to come and coach it," said Klein, who was awarded with the Israel Prize in 2006. Tomorrow: A doubles team epitomizing the Israeli spirit


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