Age of “Isenfuss” Oli Buruka 60 – Fought hard through life | NDR.de – Sports

Status: 05/19/2022 08:24 AM

As a defender, Ole Boruka was a solid footballer who celebrated huge success with Werder Bremen. But he won the most important duel of his life off the court, against himself and his alcoholism. Borowka celebrates his 60th birthday today and has been dry for nearly 22 years.

by Hano Bod

Olaf Thun remembers his first start in the Bundesliga with horror. The 1990 world champion once told Focus news magazine, “My first opponent in the Bundesliga was Boroca. He greeted me with the words: ‘I’ll break your legs in an instant.'” In the end, he survived the Knapn match on August 24, 1984 against Gladbach’s Borussia ( 1:3) without injury.

Because the man he “promised” to stay in the hospital was not obsessed with blindness. In the dictionary the term “relentless” would be ready for someone like Ulrich “Uli” Borowka. But football has its own language. Thus, the fat defense specialist, Eisenfuss, was baptized. Borowka himself preferred the more combative nickname “Axe”. True to the motto: “a bad reputation is better than no reputation at all”, the longtime professional Werder Bremen has polished his image as the “butcher of the nation”.

Despite his strength and power as he appeared in public, Borowka was as fragile and helpless at times as an ordinary person. The defender rarely lost in a duel on the field of play, and in real life he often took second place. This is the story of a man who climbed hard, fell the same steep, but eventually caught himself.

Rocky Road’s first professional contract

Borowka has not been given much in his life. He had to invest a lot to get into the elite circle of those for whom football is not just a game, but a paid profession. Born on May 19, 1962 in Menden, Sauerland, Borowka has little talent. When he plays football with the neighborhood boys, the blond boy is rarely the best. But even then he was always a role model.


Ole Boruka (left) started his professional career in Gladbach.

Borowka works on his impotence like a possessed man. His will distinguishes him from the most talented players of his year. However, he does not see from the inside a youth boarding school belonging to a professional club. He played for Hemer 08, Oese 49, Kalthof and Wanne-Eickel before signing with Borussia Mönchengladbach in 1980. However, not for the licensing team. Borowka is supposed to defend the amateurs. A qualified mechanic does his job so well that after twelve months he gets his first professional contract.

Change from Bökelberg to Weser Stadium

At that time, Gladbach was still an excellent title in German football. The team plays well and is successful. Borowka fights for a place in the group of noble technicians. He works because he enjoys tackles and headshots more than hack tricks. Borussia missed such a man because of the roughness. From time to time he even shot into the goal. Often from a distance and often with violence. Then a long-lasting “Uuliii” sound comes from the fan curve. The mighty defender was obsessed with the crowd. Because he plays honestly and speaks correctly. Such a guy is also interesting for other clubs. Hamburger SV and Werder compete for a defensive player in 1987. But only Bremen is willing to pay the required transfer fee of DM 1.2 million. Borowka moves to Weser.

Big hits and bold beats

Under coach Otto Rehhagel, the Sauerland native had his most successful time in the sport. With the Hanseatic League he won the championship and the Federation Cup twice. In 1992, Boroca also held the European Cup Winners’ Cup in his hands. However, he only participated in six matches with the national team. At the 1988 European Championships, the guy from Bremen was part of the team, after which he was no longer considered.

Additional information

Oli Boruka of Werder Bremen celebrates winning the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1992 © picture-alliance Photo: Sven Simon

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“Maybe I would have played a few more internationals, but I had a falling out with Bertie Vogts,” the crowd-favorite told Berliner Courier. Meanwhile, Rehhagel knows what Borowka has to offer and vouches that he “does consistently well”. On the other hand, Bundesliga professionals chose the relentless defensive player as the “least bad opponent”. Borowka refers to those who disagree with his behavior as “androgynous.” It seems irreplaceable, but the strongman’s facade crumbles when the first rumors of alcohol abuse surface.

Alcohol addiction ends career

At Werder – as former manager Willi Lemke later revealed – they have known the problems of the alleged model professional for a long time, when in 1996 he crashed an expensive sports car drunk into a tree. The police established a blood alcohol level of 1.71 in his blood. The father of two is an alcoholic, but he tries to hide it. “When we were building a house for the family, I said to my wife, ‘Hey, we’re going to put a cold room there. It’s good for fruits and vegetables. When I finished, I sat in the heat and they drank a can of wheat beer.'”

Oli Boroca (left) and Diego Maradona.  Archive photo from 1988 © picture-alliance

Ole Boruca (left) – here with Diego Armando Maradona – has been allowed to play only six times in the national team.

The marriage collapses and Borowka finally loses his footing. Within twelve months, two drunken assaults on his divorced wife were recorded. Now Werder is also taking action and terminating the contract with the Defender. “We always said, Ole, we introduce you to the people who know about it,” Lemke told Berliner Zeitung newspaper. “He always denied it. Maybe we weren’t strict enough at first.”

Unlucky Training Career – Rehabilitation in 2000

Borowka’s career in the Bundesliga is over. After an unsuccessful new start with fifth-division club Tasmania Berlin and an unsuccessful engagement with Hannover 96, he became the first German professional to move to Poland in 1997. Widzew Lodz is the name of his employer, but he works for him only when the club is at the fore. After a few months, the former national player moves from there and returns to Bremen. He tried his hand at FC Obernoland as a coach, but was soon fired there too.

Borowka finally faces the ruins of his career and life. Only now he accepts the most difficult duel of his career and in 2000 he went to rehab for four months. “It was hard, but it helped,” he proudly told Weser Kurier.

Biography and associations for addiction prevention

Borowka is gradually getting back on his feet. Other training activities at Berliner AK and Turkemspor were not crowned with success. In October 2012, the “Dry Alcoholic” published his autobiography titled: “Full. My Double Life as a Professional Footballer and an Alcoholic”. The strong response to his book and the taboo subject prompted Poroka, who has been married twice, to create Addiction Prevention Help eV in 2013.

Since then he has been a regular guest at schools, businesses, and prisons to talk about his experience. He has long established himself as one of the leading addiction experts. He considers himself the first point of contact that puts those seeking help in touch with professional contact points. And of course as a front man in prevention, especially for children and young people. “The fact that I can reach young people at the age of 60 makes me feel especially proud. It gives me the strength to keep going.” Because Eisenfuss is still fighting the toughest duel of his life against addiction to this day.

Additional information

Werder striker Karl-Heinz Riedel (centre) is celebrated by the fans © picture-alliance / dpa

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Werder Bremen coach Otto Rehhagel presented the championship trophy in 1988. © picture-alliance / dpa Photo: Thomas Wattenberg

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