Hubert Birkenmeier (born 24 May 1949 in Hartheim am Rhein) is a retired German professional footballer who played professionally in Germany, the North American Soccer League, Major Indoor Soccer League and American Soccer League. His greatest success came with the New York Cosmos in the NASL.
|Date of birth||24 May 1949|
|Place of birth||Hartheim am Rhein, West Germany|
|1972–1977||Tennis Borussia Berlin||85||(0)|
|1979–1985||New York Cosmos||145||(0)|
|1981–1985||New York Cosmos (indoor)||24||(0)|
|1985–1986||Chicago Sting (indoor)||23||(0)|
|1986–1987||New York Express (indoor)||13||(0)|
|1987||Los Angeles Lazers (indoor)||3||(0)|
|1988||New York Pancyprian-Freedoms|
|1989–1990||New Jersey Eagles|
|1984||New York Cosmos (interim)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Birkenmeier began his career in West Germany. In 1970, he signed with Freiburger FC before moving to Tennis Borussia Berlin in 1972. He remained in Berlin until 1977 when the Cosmos of the North American Soccer League purchased his contract. At the time he could not speak English. Birkenmeier remained with the Cosmos until 1985. During those years, he played eight outdoor NASL, two indoor NASL and one Major Indoor Soccer League season. During those years, Birkenmeier was a First Team NASL All Star selection in 1982 and 1984, a Second Teamer in 1981 and an Honorable Mention in 1983. Birkenmeier was the Cosmos' starting goalie for three consecutive Soccer Bowls ('80, '81 & '82), and did not concede a goal in any of them. In 1985, he also played several exhibition games for the Cosmos. In August 1985, he signed with the Chicago Sting of the MISL. He spent most of the season as a backup for Victor Nogueira. The Sting waived him on 29 April 1986. On 4 November 1986, Birkenmeier signed with the expansion New York Express of the MISL. The Express folded two-thirds of the way through the season and on 6 March 1987, the Los Angeles Lazers signed him to a ten-day contract. He then played for the Cosmopolitan Eagles during the 1987 outdoor exhibition season. In 1988, he played for the New York Pancyprian-Freedoms of the Cosmopolitan Soccer League as it went to the semifinals of the National Challenge Cup. He returned signed with the New York Eagles of the American Soccer League. He remained with them through the 1990 season in the American Professional Soccer League.
Retirement from professional soccer
Birkenmeier now manages a sporting goods store called Birkenmeier Sport Shop in Hackensack, New Jersey. The store was founded and originally owned by Birkenmeier but was sold in 1985 to his former Cosmos teammate Andranik Eskandarian when Birkenmeier left to play for the Chicago Sting. The teammates helped teach Eksandarian's son, Alecko, how to play inside the store. He also is now a goalkeeping coach for World Class FC
On a visit back to his hometown of Hartheim in 2009 to celebrate his 60th Birthday, he described initially having mixed feelings about leaving Germany to play in the United States. He stated that in his first few months as a Cosmo, he lived in a hotel and had some difficulty with both homesickness and the learning of a new language. However, he credits his teammate and fellow countryman, Franz Beckenbauer with helping him adjust quickly to his new home, team and language, helping him to become one of the team's most dependable and popular players while sharing in two NASL Championships. Birkenmeier continues to manage the sporting goods store he founded but stays involved in the sport acting as goalkeeping coach with the U.S. Youth National Team. He also runs a soccer youth camp for seven weeks each summer in Northern New Jersey. In the same interview, he stated that he goes back home to Hartheim every year to visit his brother and sister and stays abreast of hometown news via the internet.
- "The Americanization of Birkenmeier". etecsolutions.net. Archived from the original on 23 July 2011.
- "1983 All-Stars". United Press International. 18 September 1983. Retrieved 13 January 2017 – via UPI Archives.
- "FORMER COSMOS` GOALIE FINALLY NETTED BY STING". Chicago Tribune. 24 August 1985.
- "STING SIGN ALONSO, WAIVE GOALKEEPER BIRKENMEIER". The Seattle Times. 29 April 1986.
- '"RESULTS UNCLEAR AS EAGLES TEST LOCAL SOCCER WATERS". The Record (New Jersey). 1 June 1987.
- "American Soccer League 1989 Season". a-leaguearchive.tripod.com. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
- "American Professional Soccer League 1990 Season". a-leaguearchive.tripod.com. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
- "Birkenmeier Sport Shop History". Archived from the original on 15 May 2008.
- Gola, Hank (8 November 2008). "Where are they now? Former Cosmo Andranik Eskandarian". Daily News. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
- Gildea, William (14 November 2004). "For Eskandarians, A Father-Son Game – United's Alecko Enjoys Same Success". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
- "Ein Fußballstar auf Heimatbesuch". Badische Zeitung (in German). 28 May 2009. Retrieved 14 October 2012.