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Wynton Alan Whai Rufer, CNZM (born 29 December 1962) is a New Zealand retired footballer who played as a striker. He spent more than a decade of his professional career in Switzerland and Germany, achieving his greatest success at Werder Bremen, where he won a total of four major titles and finished the top scorer in the UEFA Champions League 1993-94 season. He was also a member of the New Zealand national team in its first FIFA World Cup appearance in 1982. He was named the Oceania Footballer of the Century by the Oceania Football Confederation.
|Full name||Wynton Alan Whai Rufer|
|Date of birth||29 December 1962|
|Place of birth||Wellington, New Zealand|
|Height||1.81 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|1997||1. FC Kaiserslautern||14||(4)|
|1997||Central United||30||(12)|
|1998||North Shore United||11||(3)|
|1999||New Zealand U16 (women)|
|2014–2015||Papua New Guinea|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Rufer was born in Wellington to a Swiss father and a New Zealand Māori mother. He affiliates to the Ngāti Porou iwi. After leaving the city's Rongotai College, he played his first football for Wellington Diamond United, Stop Out and Miramar Rangers.
After being voted New Zealand's Young Player of the Year in 1981 and 1982, Rufer attracted the attention of Norwich City manager Ken Brown, who invited the player and his older brother Shane Rufer to Norfolk for a trial. He impressed and signed a professional contract on 23 October 1981, becoming the first Kiwi to do so. However, he was denied a work permit to play in England, so he joined Fussballclub Zürich in May of the following year.
Rufer would play in Switzerland in the following seven years, also representing FC Aarau and Grasshopper Club Zürich: whilst at the former, he topped the scoring charts at 21 in the 1987–88 season, helping his club to the fourth place. With the Hoppers, he won the domestic cup, precisely against Aarau, and surpassed the 100-goal mark in his years in the country.
In the 1989 summer, Rufer signed with SV Werder Bremen, coached by Otto Rehhagel. His Bundesliga debut came on 29 July, in a 0–0 draw at FC St. Pauli, and his impact was immediate, as he netted six times in his first 13 league matches. Overall, he would play an enormous part in the side's achievements, pairing with Klaus Allofs up front: on 6 May 1992, both scored in the final of the season's UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, in Lisbon (2–0 win against AS Monaco FC).
In the 1992–93 league season, as Werder won the third championship in the club's history, Rufer finished second in the scoring charts, at 17. On 8 December 1993, he scored two against R.S.C. Anderlecht in the UEFA Champions League, in a 5–3 home win (Anderlecht led 3–0 with 25 minutes to go); he finished as that competition's topscorer, alongside FC Barcelona's Ronald Koeman, and added his second German Cup.
In 1994–95, the 31-year-old left Bremen and moved to JEF United Ichihara of the J1 League, finishing as the club's leading scorer in his second year. When Rehhagel took on the task of resurrecting 1. FC Kaiserslautern's fortunes in 1996 – the club would eventually return to the top division, as champions – he called upon Rufer in February 1997, and he contributed with four goals in 14 second division matches.
Rufer returned to his country and successively represented Central United, North Shore United and Auckland Kingz, retiring at the age of nearly 40. He then founded a football coaching school, WYNRS, which produced football stars such as women's international Annalie Longo.
With his brother Shane, Rufer took on player-coaching duties at North Shore United in 1998, before coaching the national Under-16 men's squad ahead of the 1999 Junior World Cup Finals, notably achieving a draw against the Under-16 men's teams of Austria and win over Norway in an unofficial U-16 World Cup tournament in Nice, France in 1998. He was appointed player-coach of the country's first professional football team, Auckland Kingz, participating in the Australian Soccer League for two seasons before retiring in 2001, having been named Oceania's Player of the Century ahead of Frank Farina (Australia) and Christian Karembeu (France, of New Caledonia descent).
Made his A-international debut for New Zealand against Kuwait on 16 October 1980 in the friendly international Merdeka Tournament in Malaysia aged 17 years and 291 days. Added late to the squad for New Zealand in their World Cup qualification campaign in 1981 and played his first World Cup qualifier on 14 December 1981 against Kuwait, aged 18, scoring in a 2–2 draw for the 1982 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Rufer quickly established himself in the All Whites side. Late in the following year, he netted the 2–1 winner in the decisive playoff against China, which propelled the nation to its first World Cup ever.
In the final stages in Spain, 19-year-old Rufer was the youngest member of the squad, appearing in all three group losses, against Scotland, the Soviet Union and Brazil. In total, he gained 23 full caps, scoring 12 goals. From 1985–89, he only collected a total of five international appearances, namely due to the fact Zürich would not release him; from there until 1996, he did not appear for the national side at all.
During his time in Switzerland, Rufer converted to Christianity and married his wife, Lisa, in 1986. They have two sons, Caleb and Joshua, who are also footballers. His brother Shane and his nephew Alex also played professional football and played for the New Zealand national team.
|Stop Out||1980||National Soccer League||5||2||–||–||5||2|||
|Wellington Diamond United||1981||National Soccer League||19||7||–||–||19||7|||
|Miramar Rangers||1982||National Soccer League||8||3||–||–||8||3|||
|FC Zürich||1982–83||Nationalliga A||23||9||4||2||7||1||–||34||12|||
|FC Aarau||1986–87||Nationalliga A||15||7||0||0||4||3||19||10|||
|1. FC Kaiserslautern||1996–97||2. Bundesliga||14||4||14||4|||
|Central United||1996–97||National Soccer League||?||?||?||?|
|North Shore United||1997–98||National Soccer League||?||?||?||?|
|Auckland Kingz||1999–2000||National Soccer League||25||6||25||6|||
|New Zealand national team|
- Swiss Cup: 1989
- Bundesliga: 1992–93
- DFB-Pokal: 1990–91, 1993–94
- DFB-Supercup: 1993, 1994
- UEFA Cup Winners Cup: 1991–92
1. FC Kaiserslautern
- Oceania Footballer of the Year: 1989, 1990, 1992
- UEFA Champions League Top-scorer: 1993–94
- Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to soccer, 2008 Queen's Birthday Honours.
- FIFA Oceania Player of the Century.
- New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame.
- Maori Sports Hall of Fame.
- Rufer is a member of the FIFA Football Committee, with Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer, Michel Platini and Bobby Charlton. He is also involved with the FIFA Ambassadors Against Racism Committee.
- IFFHS Legends
- "Wynton Rufer CNZM". Māori Sports Profiles and Database. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
- "Honours List". The Ultimate New Zealand Soccer Website. Retrieved 25 July 2008.
- "Rufer's a Wynr in New Zealand". FIFA.com. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
- Maddaford, Terry (15 December 2001). "Soccer: Rufer - simply the best we've had". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
- Pierrend, José Luis (26 February 2009). "Oceania Player of the Year". RSSSF. Archived from the original on 4 December 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
- Arnhold, Matthias (23 February 2017). "Wynton Alan Whai Rufer - Matches and Goals in Bundesliga". RSSSF. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- Mamrud, Roberto (23 February 2017). "Wynton Alan Whai Rufer - Goals in International Matches". RSSSF. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- "NZ 1982 World Cup". New Zealand Soccer. Archived from the original on 23 July 2008. Retrieved 25 July 2008.
- "A-International Appearances – Overall". The Ultimate New Zealand Soccer Website. Archived from the original on 7 October 2008. Retrieved 25 July 2008.
- "A-International Scorers – Overall". The Ultimate New Zealand Soccer Website. Archived from the original on 28 February 2008. Retrieved 25 July 2008.
- "Wynton Rufer appointed PNG national coach". pngfootball.com.pg. Archived from the original on 20 October 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
- "Caleb Rufer". WYNRS.[dead link]
- "Wynton Rufer". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmerman. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
- "Wynton Rufer". dbFCZ (in German). Retrieved 20 July 2018.
- "Wynton Rufer » Club matches". worldfootball.net. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
- "Wynton Rufer". wynrs.co.nz. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
- "Queen's Birthday Honours 2008". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 2 June 2008. Retrieved 2 June 2008.
- "The greatest honour for any footballer". FIFA.com. 24 May 2002. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
- "FIFA Ambassadors against Racism". FIFA.com. Archived from the original on 2 March 2009.
- "IFFHS announce the 48 football legend players". IFFHS. 25 January 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016.