Born in Bigge, Germany, in 1937, Friedhelm Paul completed an apprenticeship as a watchmaker and goldsmith at his family’s jewelry business Uhren Paul in the town of Schwerte before crossing the pond. His store Frederic’s Jewelers, which he opened in Clark, New Jersey, in 1971, has just celebrated its 50th anniversary. His brother is none other than legendary former Borussia Dortmund captain Wolfgang Paul (pictured: Three times Paul – Friedhelm, Wolfgang and Karl-Josef).
Where were you when Wolfgang won the European Cup in Glasgow in 1966?
I had already emigrated to the U.S. in 1956 because my parents’ business in Germany was too small to support two families. I thought to myself, why not go to America and see how things go there? Back in 1966, people in the States looked down on football. They weren’t interested in anything that might distract from baseball, basketball and American football. So the game wasn’t broadcast on TV. I only learned of Wolfgang’s big triumph the next day through the Freie Zeitung, a local German newspaper.
Did you ever see Wolfgang play for Borussia Dortmund?
Sadly, no. The last time I saw him on the field was as a kid playing for the local TuS Bigge club back home in the beautiful German region of Sauerland. At the time, I could already tell how passionate he was about the sport. No wonder he was selected by Borussia Dortmund and went on to win the European Cup.
Did you also play football?
My father always said, “I can only support one footballer.” That was fine by me, especially as I was far more interested in music and preferred going to concerts to watching football matches. Shortly after emigrating to the States, I joined the Newark Sängerchor men’s choir and eventually served as its president from 1980 to 1986. This German men’s choir is still going strong today and I remain actively involved.
Have you ever watched a Borussia Dortmund game live in the club’s stadium?
Yes. Whenever I visit Wolfgang, we go to the stadium. The last time was two years ago, before the coronavirus forced us to hold off. Soon my wife Christa and I will make the journey back to visit Wolfgang and his big family in Bigge. And if all goes well, we’ll watch Borussia Dortmund’s home game against Hoffenheim together.
How do you keep up with Borussia Dortmund games?
Whenever possible, we watch them with family and friends on ESPN at the German Club in Clark. A lot of the club members are also Borussia Dortmund supporters, so black and yellow flags make a big showing.
Interview: Uwe Schedlbauer
In this section, our main sponsor Evonik, who supports us at all of our international games, lets soccer fans who feel close to Borussia Dortmund but live nowhere near SIGNAL IDUNA PARK have their say.
American sports enthusiasts have long since caught on to the joys of watching Borussia Dortmund in action. If not before, Christian Pulisic’s rise to international prominence at the club has ensured that footage of Bundesliga games is already watched in many sports bars on Saturday mornings, followed by the Champions League in the afternoons. And it goes without saying that there are tons of Borussia Dortmund fans among Evonik’s 4,500 or so employees in the U.S., who are currently rooting for Giovanni Reyna, the team’s young U.S. international. The States are practically home from home for Evonik. Parsippany, New Jersey – just under an hour’s drive from New York City – is the company’s American headquarters. Beyond that, there are the 27 locations in 21 states engaged in production, research and commerce. Evonik benefits from its diverse workforce, research at top universities and the U.S. market’s huge reach. In turn, the United States benefit from Evonik’s creativity and growth, with which the Group creates many high-quality jobs in the country. Evonik supplies all major industries, including the automotive, pharmaceutical, electronics and agricultural sectors.