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Wynton Rufer

Wynton Rufer
Norwich Career: Trial (1982)
Current Club: Papua New Guinea (Manager)
Date of Birth: 29/12/1962 
Nationality: New Zealander


Wynton Rufer was the star forward of the New Zealand international side that reached the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain. Wynton and his brother Shane joined Norwich on trial and played in the reserves and I remember them making an appearance in a friendly against Fort Lauderdale Strikers. City's hopes of signing the Kiwi striker were dashed when the Home Office refused to grant him a work permit. Wynton played on the continent in Switzerland (FC Zurich, FC Aaruu, Grasshoppers) and Germany (Werder Bremen, Kaiserslauten) throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The highlight of his career being the goal that won Werder Bremen the 1992 European CupWinner's Cup final. He has also spent time in Japan (JEF United) and was then still a regular in the New Zealand international side.

On the 7th of July 1997, it was announced that Wynton Rufer, New Zealand's most famous international footballer, had signed up with Central United for the rest of the 1997 winter season. It's a major coup for the Sandringham-based club, and one which the club's President, Ivan Vuksich, could not hide his delight in announcing. "It will liven up the winter soccer scene in Auckland", he says, "and also offers our youngsters at Central a great chance to train with and play alongside Wynton, albeit for a short period"." Wynton has so much to offer New Zealand football, and we consider ourselves very fortunate to be able to enjoy his services for this short time", comments Vuksich. Rufer himself is looking forward to the challenge. "Now that I'm back in the country, I want to make myself available to promote the game. I'm available to play - thanks to daily physiotherapy, my back injury is coming right - and with the Chatham Cup being the major winter competition in New Zealand soccer, I've taken the opportunity to link up with a good club which is still in pursuit of the honour". He achieved his goal with Central Utd beating Napier City Rovers 4-2 in the final of the Chatham Cup (New Zealand's equivalent of the FA Cup). This means that Wynton has won the domestic cup in Germany, Switzerland and New Zealand. One wonders if he would have brought Norwich City similar success.

On 29th July 1997, Rufer announced that he would be taking up a Player/Coach position for North Shore United in the upcoming National Summer Soccer League. Rufer, would be joined by his brother Shane (currently coaching in Geneva, Switzerland) at the helm of 'Shore who have made the play-offs of the Summer League for the past two seasons.

New Zealand Canary fan Grant Stantiall informed me on 10th April 1998 that Rufer has retired from playing for New Zealand at the age of 34 as a result of a shoulder injury that could affect his spine. He may be forced to retire from the game entirely. He also turned down a job as coach to German side Kaiserslautern in favour of the New Zealand Under 17 side that was attempting to qualify for the World Youth Cup Finals. He was awarded the title of FIFA's Oceania Player of the Decade. He also won the Oceania Footballer of the Year title three times (1989, 1990 and 1992) & footballer of the decade (1990's). He is currently a member of the Fifa Players committee & is involved officially in the Fifa Oceania confederation.

Wynton was later appointed player-coach of the Football Kings, New Zealand's first professional soccer team. The Kings intend to compete in the Australian Ericsson Cup competition in October 1999. Brother Shane is expected to assist Wynton as Assistant Coach. After a disastrous start to the season caused by a farcical transfer situation, they have show themselves to be a class side, beating two-time reigning champions South Melborne 1-0, and having two draws where they conceded an early goal and then had one way traffic for 80mins but been unable to score. Most recently was a sensational game 3-3 Vs Wollongong where the Kingz equalized in the very last minute of injury time after Wollongong had two players sent off. Wynton has only played two games so far due to operations on his shoulder and achillies tendon; the first as a sweeper (!) due to the transfer disaster, and the second as an 80th minute sub in the third game ( Vs Newcastle )where he showed exactly why he was so deadly in Germany with Werder Bremen and Kaiserslaughten, and that at 36, he still has it, with a stunning spinning volley turning the ball 270 degrees into the far corner from 18 yards off a Marcus Stergiopolous cross. As the season progresses, New Zealand football fans can expect to see more of Oceania's player of the century as he regains full fitness.

In September 2001, it was announced that Wynton would step down from management to concentrate on his playing career ! He has since retired from playing to concentrate on coaching kids.

In February 2014, he was appointed manager of Papua New Guinea's international team.

Club Honours

Grasshoppers Zurich - Swiss Cup, 1988-89
Werder Bremen - German Cup, 1990-91, European Cup-Winners Cup, 1991-92, Bundesliga, 1992-93, European Super Cup final, 1992-93, German Cup, 1993-94
Twice leading scorer for Werder, Three times Best Player for Werder, Winner of Bundesliga' Best Foreign Player award
FC Kaiserslautern
- Bundesliga II, 1996-97
JEF United - Leading Goalscorer, 1995
Central United - Chatham Cup, 1997

International Record

38 caps, 17 goals
International Debut vs Kuwait, October 16, 1980, Merdeka Tournament
First International Goal vs Kuwait, December 14, 1981, World Cup qualifiers
NZ Young Player of the Year, 1981 & 1982
NZ Soccer Media Association Personality of the Year, 1992 & 1997

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This page on Flown From The Nest was last updated on and is © Steve Whitlam 1997-2013.
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