Sporting Heroes for 60 Years: No. 27 Emmanuel Sheffer

The German immigrant who coached the national team to the 1970 World Cup finals in Mexico.

emmanuel sheffer 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
emmanuel sheffer 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Back in the early days of the young State of Israel there were few sporting achievements on the major international stage. In 1970 this all changed when the national soccer team, coached by German immigrant Emanuel Sheffer, made it to the 1970 World Cup finals in Mexico. Sheffer was a coach from the old school, who had learnt his trade while living in Poland in the late 1940s. After moving to Israel in 1950 he coached a number of local teams, including Hapoel Kfar Saba and Hapoel Haifa, each time emphasizing the importance of physical fitness. He took over as Israel coach in 1968 and drilled his players to success. In truth, the qualifying campaign was nothing like it is today when Israel plays in the European groups. In that day Israel played in the Asia and Oceania section and only had to beat New Zealand and then Australia home and away to qualify. That it did and headed to Mexico. Considering its inexperience, the team performed well at the World Cup, holding Sweden and Italy to draws and losing only 2-0 to Uruguay. Sheffer was credited with inspiring his players, which included current Betar Jerusalem coach Itzhak Schum and manager Giora Spiegel. Tomorrow: A canoeist who came home from sydney with a bronze medal