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Saturday, February 15, 2014

LIECHTENSTEIN FOOTBALL'S BIG NIGHT OUT

The great and good of Liechtenstein football gathered in the small town of Triesen's Community Hall on 5/1/14 for the 2013 Liechtensteiner Fußballverband (LFV) awards ceremony, which also featured the semi-final draw for the 2014 FL1 Aktiv-Cup.

Awards were being presented for a number of categories, including Footballer of the Year, Manager of the Year, Young Footballer of the Year and Volunteer of the Year.


There were five nominees for the Young Footballer of the Year Award: Daniel Brändle, Vinzenz Flatz, Simon Kühne, Lorenzo Lo Russo and Sandro Wieser.

Brändle, 22, has been playing in the Swiss Second Division for FC Bern since 2012, and, although yet to represent Liechtenstein at senior level, has played 15 times for the national under-21 squad, and previously played 3 times for the country's under-19 team.

Nineteen-year-old, Flatz, meanwhile, has already represented Liechtenstein at senior level on three occasions, and is currently on the books of Young Boys Bern, but has yet to break through to the first team.

Kühne, also 19, has played 3 matches this season for SC Austria Lustenau in the Austrian Eerste Liga (second level), having made his debut for them last season. He has played 5 times for the Liechtenstein under-21s; curiously, the SC Austria Lustenau website lists his nationality as Austrian..

Lo Russo, 20, is the man between the sticks for FC Vaduz's under-23 team, which are currently topping the table in Switzerland's regional 3. Liga. He has played in goal for the national under-21 team on 5 occasions.

Wieser, who recently celebrated his twenty-first birthday, was sent out on loan by parent club TSG Hoffenheim to Austrian Bundesliga side SV Ried at the end of last season, and has played 11 times for the team so far this season. He is by far the most experienced of the quintet, having already topped the 20-cap mark with the Liechentstein full national team, not to mention his six appearances for the under-21s. 

  LFV YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2013: Sandro Wieser

Three nominations were made for Manager of the Year: Giorgio Contini, Mario Frick and Uwe Wegmann.

FC Vaduz manager Contini has been with the club since 2012, having previously managed FC Luzern. The 40 year-old's playing career saw him playing for some of Switzerland's best-known clubs, such as St.-Gallen and Lausanne-Sport.

Mario Frick (39) surely needs no introductions to those keeping a close eye on football in Liechtenstein; Frick played 112 times for his country, scoring 16 goals, but has spent virtually all of his club career outside the country. Flick, who was born in Switzerland, spent much of his playing career in Italy, playing in Serie A for Hellas Verona and Siena, and also played for a number of Switzerland's top clubs both before and after his time in Italy. Flick's international career ended in 2011, and he then decided to return to FC Balzers, where he had played in the club's youth team. Frick took over the reins as manager in September 2012.


Wegmann is the proud owner of a DFB Pokal winners' medal, having won the German Cup in 1996 with 1. FC Kaiserslautern; he played in the Bundesliga for both die Lauterer and Vfl Bochum. After later playing in Switzerland, Austria (and for FC Vaduz), he returned to Germany where retired as player-manager with FC Kempten in 2007, now found in the seventh tier of German football. Wegmann, now 50 years old, has been manager or USV Eschen/Mauren since 2008.

LFV MANAGER OF THE YEAR 2013: Mario Frick (middle)

Five names were shortlisted for Footballer of the Year: Franz Burgmeier, Nicolas Hasler, Peter Jehle, Daniel Kaufmann and Michele Polverino.

Burgmeier made history as the first Liechtensteiner to play professional football in England when he signed for fourth-level side Darlington in 2008; however, he, together with the rest of the staff on the club's books, was made available for transfer a year later as the club slid into administration and, eventually, non-league football. Burgmeier started off with home-town club Triesen in 1999, before joining FC Vaduz a year later, and won the first of his 82 full caps against Spain in September 2001. After leaving FC Vaduz for three years in Switzerland and his unsuccessful soujourn in England, he returned to Vaduz in 2009. Burgmeier (31) has won Cup medals in both Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

Hasler has spent has entire career within Liechtenstein; the 22 year-old began his career with FC Balzers before moving on to USV Eschen/Mauren in 2010. He spent a year there, making his international début against Iceland in August 2010, before joining FC Vaduz, where he currently plays. Hasler has 10 under-21 caps and 26 full international caps to his name.

The hugely-experienced Jehle (32) has been Liechtenstein's established goalkeeper for many years now, with his international career beginning - whilst he was a FC Schaan player - in the 2:1 victory against Azerbaijan in October 1998; this was his country's maiden competitive win. Two years later, Jehle was on his way to Grasshoppers Zürich, where he was to spend six years, though he played relatively few games for the famous old club's first team. A two-year stint in Portugal with Boavista followed, which ended in 2008 with the club being relegated following a corruption scandal. Jehle then spent a season at Tours in La Ligue 2 before returning to Liechtenstein in 2009 to play for FC Vaduz. The 'keeper was briefly on loan at FC Luzern last season, and won his 100th cap against Croatia in August 2013; Jehle's total of international appearances now stands at 105.

Kaufmann's career pretty much mirrors that of Nicolas Hasler; Kaufmann began at FC Balzers in 2008, where he was to pick up the first of 10 under-21 caps for Liechtenstein in 2009 before transferring to USV Eschen/Mauren in 2010, where, later that year, he made the first of his 20 full international appearances in a 1:1 draw against Estonia. Kaufmann, 24, signed for FC Vaduz in 2012.

Michele Polverino is also a full international with 39 caps to his name, and made his first full international appearance against Iceland in 2007. Polverino, a 29 year-old, began with FC Schaan before moving to FC Vaduz in 2002, where he stayed until 2005. Italy was his next port of call, where he spent a period with Sardinian side OIbia Calcio (now ASD Olbia 1905) until returning to FC Vaduz in early 2007. Polverino's next move was to FC Aarau in 2009, and then moved to Iran of all places in September 2011, where he spent the 2011-12 season with second-tier side Steel Azin. Polverino left Steel Azin at the end of the season, which saw the club relegated to the third level of Iranian football. He then moved to Wolfsberger AC in the Austrian Bundesliga, where the midfielder has more or less regularly featured in the side since his move there in the summer of 2012.

LFV PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2013: Michele Polverino (right)

The winners in each of the above categories were as follows:

Young Player of the Year: Sandro Wieser
Manager of the Year: Mario Frick 
Player of the Year: Michele Polverino

It is not always the case in football that the efforts of those who work tirelessly behind the scenes are rewarded, but they are in Liechtenstein. In addition to the awards profiled above, the LFV has an award for the club Volunteer of the Year, and that was awarded to a woman for the first time, the recipient being Margrit Beck-Miller from, fittingly enough, FC Triesen.

LFV VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR 2013: Margrit Beck-Miller
 
As mentioned earlier, part of the evening was given over to the draw for the semi-finals of the FL1 Aktiv-Cup (Liechtenstein's FA Cup), which among them had current holders FC Vaduz, USV Eschen/Mauren, FC Ruggell and Azzurri Schaan (FC Schaan's reserve team), and the names came out of the hat as follows:
 
Azzurri Schaan : USV Eschen/Mauren (to take place on 8/4/14)
FC Vaduz : FC Ruggell (to take place on 9/4/14)

The winners of each semi-final shall progress to the final, which shall take place on 1/5/14.
 
 
PRESENTING (from left to right)....: Matthias Voigt (LFV president), Mario Frick (Manager of the Year), Margrit Beck-Miller (Volunteer of the Year), Michele Polverino (Player of the Year) and Marlies Amann-Marxer (Minister for Sport)
 
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AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many thanks to Aurelio for kindly granting permission to use the photos which appear in the above article, and also for providing some of the information contained within said article. Other sorces include the various club websites and the LFV website (www.lfv.li).
 
 


 


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