Greatest Transfers: Stephane Chapuisat

Greatest Transfers: Stephane Chapuisat

Natural goal scorers are a rare commodity, especially in the modern game. Borussia Dortmund are lucky to have had a few over the years including Jan Koller, Robert Lewandowski and, currently Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Buying a player for the sole reason to score you goals is always a massive risk. But, with Stephane Chapuisat, it was a risk that paid off.

Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1969, Chapuisat started his career with Swiss side Malley. He broke into the first team in the 1986/87 season and managed to bag an impressive 16 goals in 32 appearances. At the end of that season the 18-year-old moved back to Lausanne, whom he had played for as a youth player, for free. He played for his hometown club between 1987 and 1990, scoring 34 goals in 104 appearances. Although Chapuisat had a modest goal scoring return at Lausanne, he soon got a career making move Bayer Uerdingen in the Bundesliga in January 1991. Chapuisat generally made a good impression at Uerdingen in the half a season he was there, finishing with 4 goals from 10 games. Uerdingen were known as an “elevator” team due to them bouncing between the Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga in the early 1990’s. When the opportunity for the Swiss striker to move to an established Bundesliga side like BVB was presented to him, it was clearly hard to turn down and he moved across Westphalia for £1.15 million in the summer of 1991.

In his first season with Dortmund, Chapuisat scored 20 league goals. BVB finished second on goal difference to VfB Stuttgart due to results on the final day of the season. Chapuisat also finished second in the goal scoring charts, behind Fritz Walter of the now Bundesliga champions. The following season, he netted 15 times in all competitions as BVB were again runners up, this time in the UEFA Cup over two legs to Juventus. This was to be pivotal to Borussia Dortmund’s future success, however. On the back of the teams’ performance in the UEFA Cup, Ottmar Hitzfeld was given funds to strengthen over the next couple of seasons. Matthias Sammer, Jurgen Kohler and Stefan Reuter would join the club in the time, but the job of scoring the goals was continually entrusted to the Swiss striker.

1993/94 was fruitful once again for Chapuisat as he scored 21 times in all competitions for the club. But the proceeding season was barren for BVB and frustrating for their talismanic striker. Chapuisat spent most of the season out with injury and only managed to play 11 times. He made the most of his playing time though, making sure he scored 14 goals in those 11 games as BVB won the league. A mightily impressive feat for a striker who barely played. 1995/96 would prove to be much more successful for the club as Dortmund would win the Bundesliga again. But Chapuisat would continue to be frustrated. His playing time would be limited so much so that he would only score 3 times that season. Although injury was clearly plaguing his career, Dortmund trusted that a fit Stephane Chapuisat could do the business. While his movement in the area was second to none, his work rate was never questioned. He was also willing to play where the team needed him to, occasionally playing on the right wing cutting in onto his left foot. “Chappi” was a fan favourite due to the ability he had proven he possessed.

1996/97 would be an unforgettable season for every Dortmund fan. Despite finishing third in the Bundesliga, they were to garner a reputation worldwide for the performance on a much grander stage. Chapuisat would score 3 goals along the way as Borussia Dortmund won the UEFA Champions League. He also played in the final coming off as a 70th-minute sub for Lars Ricken, who famously won the game with his first touch scoring from 30 yards. Chapuisat would become, and still is, the only Swiss player to lift the Champions League.

1997/98 would be the season that Chapuisat regained his fitness and his form. Chapuisat would score 20 times in all competitions, but, under new manager Nevio Scala, BVB would finish a disappointing 10th place. This was their lowest finish since 1991 and would signal the end of Scala’s tenure, despite reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League. Under Michael Skibbe in 1998/99, Chapuisat would again be frustrated for playing time and only notched 7 goals all season. At the end of that campaign, Chapuisat left the club and returned to Switzerland, with Grasshoppers, for free. He would go on to play for Young Boys before eventually finishing his career back with Lausanne for a solitary season. Proving his class once again though, his final season as a professional footballer ended with him playing 32 times and scoring 16 goals.

Throughout his career, Stephane Chapuisat was known as a natural goal scorer. Even football fans who didn’t know much about him knew him as the Swiss guy who scored loads. For a while, he was the best known Swiss player in world football. He gained 103 caps for his country and 21 international goals. He may not have reached the heights at international level that he was reaching at club level, but that didn’t matter to Dortmund fans. “Chappi” will always be remembered at Signal Iduna Park for his goal scoring ability even when fate was against him.