22 Dec 2020

Player, official, businessman; there have been many landmarks in his illustrious career, on Tuesday 22nd December, there is yet another.

Eberhard Schöler celebrates his 80th birthday.

by Ian Marshall

Born in Zlotow in north west Poland, always known as “Ebby”, he succeeded his wife, Diane, as President of the Swaythling Club International in 2013, a position he holds currently, having taken a one-year break in 2018/2019 when fulfilling the role of Deputy President.

It is during his tenure of office, at meetings held at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf and ratified two years later in Budapest that the overall responsibility for the World Veteran Championships was transferred from the Swaythling Club International to the International Table Tennis Federation.

The smooth transformation pays great credit to Ebby Schöler. Modest, self-effacing, always he remains calm. Approached, he gives a well thought out response, supported by logical reasoning, one that shows regard for any proposal or comment received. He respects the traditions of the sport but is not closed to new ideas. Quite simply, in a nutshell he talks common sense; ask those who have met him in any walk of life, all value his opinions.

Admired for his professionalism in the best sense of the word, it is that quality which made him a national hero; to this day he remains the only German player ever to reach the final of the men’s singles event at a World Championships.

Moreover, he came so close to lifting the precious St Bride Vase; he was just three points away.

Eberhard Schöler presenting the Fair Play award to Zhu Yuling at Suzhou 2015 WTTC

On Thursday 24th April 1969 in Munich’s Eiss Stadium, some 7,000 fans were present to support their idol in the men’s singles final at the 30th World Championships. They cheered, blew horns, chanted and waved banners in support. Facing Japan’s Shigeo Ito, the owner of one of the most powerful forehands on planet earth, Ebby’s renowned defence remained rock solid as he established a two games to nil lead.

In the third he trailed 19-20, the next point went to his adversary, it was crucial, a major confidence booster for Shigeo Ito. Eventually, the man from Japan emerged victorious in five games (19-21, 14-21, 21-19, 21-15, 21-9).

Notably, it was only the second singles match in the whole tournament which Ebby lost; in the preceding men’s team event he recorded 21 wins and just one defeat. In the final Germany experienced a 5-3 reverse at the hands of Japan; Ebby lost to Mitsuri Konno but beat Nobuhiko Hasegawa and a certain Shigeo Ito. Furthermore, three days after the conclusion of the World Championships in Munich, when Germany played Japan in Wiesloch, again Ebby beat Shigeo Ito. Sometimes sport can be so cruel.

Overall, Ebby represented the German team on 155 occasions, won 29 national titles, nine being the men’s singles, at the World Championships he secured two silver and five bronze medals. Amongst many appointments, became a member of the ITTF Board of Directors and Deputy President of the European Table Tennis Union. Currently, Ebby serves as ITTF President’s Advisory Council member.

“Ebby is one of those who “live” table tennis and have shaped table tennis nationally and internationally through his fairness, ideas and activities. Also, to me personally he stood and stands often with advice and act to the side.” Thomas Weikert, ITTF President

Happy birthday Ebby Schöler.

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