Future football stars, top class football and up to 15,000 spectators – the Spax Cup organized by TuS Ennepetal is more than just a big football stage.

When the U19 players from the top clubs from around the world play at Ennepetal there is an atmosphere in the stadium that is normally only experienced in the big Bundesliga stadiums. And its exactly this atmosphere that makes the Ennepetal tournament different to all other European U19 tournaments…

Lajos Detari, Juergen Klinsmann, Dennis Bergkamp, Andrei Schevtschenko and David Beckham – all highly talented football players who have dominated European football in the last decades, both with their clubs and their national teams, have played in the Whitsun tournament at Ennepetal.

When Guenter Kierstan, the former head of the Ennepetal youth department, restarted an international U19 football tournament in Ennepetal, he continued the successful international tournaments from the years 1965 – 1968 and created a tournament that attracts scouts and clubs from around the world.

In 1974 Vasas Budapest was the first international team to win the tournament. In the following year, FC Everton and FC Antwerpen met each other in the final at Ennepetal. Very quickly the tournament became well-known within the senior soccer hierarchy, with the German Bundesliga clubs particularly eager to send their under 19 teams to Ennepetal. One such club is Stuttgarter Kickers, who won the tournament in 1979 with a 6-1 win over Feyenoord Rotterdam. Guido Buchwald was a member of Stuttgarter Kickers team playing at Ennepetal that year, he was later to become a member of the 1990 German world champion team in Italy.

In 1981 and 1982 Juergen Klinsmann played at Ennepetal for Stuttgarter Kickers. The No. 11 inspired the spectators with his dynamic playing skills and speed, and was elected best player of the tournament. News of the award reached him in hospital, where he was being treated for a broken collarbone, suffered while playing in the final. Undeterred by his unfortunate experience in 1981, he was back to Ennepetal in 1982, where he once more inspired the spectators and was again elected best player of the tournament, in addition to taking the title of highest scorer at the tournament.

Only one year later another star was to shine at the tournament. Olaf Thon, a member of the 1983 Schalker Knappen‘ team scored a spectacular goal in the 4-1 final against Manchester City. Best player at the 1983 tournament was Thon’s team mate Michael Skibbe, who coached the german national team from 2001-2004 and coaches Bayer 04 Leverkusen today. Following a serious knee injury, which brought his promising playing career to an early end, Michael became coach and youth director at Borussia Dortmund, whose team, under his direction as coach, has won the tournament three times in the late 1990s. As "godfather" of the Ennepetal tournament since 2000, he is a regular guest at the tournament.

The team with the highest number of players to progress to the Bundesliga were from the Kaiserslautern team from1984. Six players from this team were to break into the professional team in the 1980s. Franco Foda and Markus Schupp went on to play for the German national team. A couple of years later Mario Basler followed them to the professional and the national teams before winning the UEFA champions league with Bayern Munich.

Another enfant terrible of the german football was a team member of Borussia Moenchengladbach at Ennepetal in 1987. His name: Stefan Effenberg.

Famous German footballers are not the only famous players to have played in the Ennepetal tournament. For many international stars, Ennepetal was a step in their career. In 1980, the Hungarian Lajos Detari, was voted best player of the tournament. Four years later, Tony Dorigo from Aston Villa, won this title. Rob Witschge played for the famous Dutch Ajax Amsterdam in 1984. All these players went on to become important members of their national teams.

Two years later, one of the superstars of Dutch football entered the green at Ennepetal. Dennis Bergkamp, who has now played for Arsenal London for a number of years scored as No. 8 of Ajax Amsterdam. His team mate from Arsenal and the german national team’s goal keeper, Jens Lehmann, played at Ennepetal in 1988 and was of course voted best goal keeper at the tournament.

In 1989 the No. 1 British idol, Sir Bobby Charlton, as President of Manchester United accompanied his U19 team to Ennepetal. Members of Manchester’s 1992 team that went to Ennepetal included today’s top football players David Beckham and Paul Scholes.

The most recent top superstar to play at Ennepetal was Andrej Schevtschenko, who in the same year played in the Champions League for Dynamo Kiev and who today is one of the top players at AC Milan in Italy.

It is very pleasing that in the last few years, many of the young players at Ennepetal have broken into the professional teams of their clubs. They include Mike Hanke, Philip Trojan, Michael Delura, Christopher Heimeroth, Fabian Lamotte (all Schalke 04), Florian Kringe, Salvatore Gambino, Sahr Senesie, David Odonkor, Vladimir But, Lars Ricken (all Dortmund), Hugo Moreira, Bruno Vale (FC Porto), Benny Mc Carthy (originally with Ajax, now playing for FC Porto) and Fernando Torres Sanz (highest scorer at the 2000 tournament and who is today doing very well in the Spanish Primera Division). Expect to see many of these players in the World Championship 2006 in Germany.