WINNIPEG — Ralph Krueger made his life in hockey.
He loved the game while growing up in Steinbach, Man., first as a player in the German Bundesliga, then coaching Switzerland’s national team and the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.
Now at age 54, he’s switching sports — he was named Wednesday as the new chairman of Southampton Football Club of the Premier League in England.
Krueger has never before worked in soccer, or football, as it’s called in England.
“I am honoured to take on the role of chairman of Southampton Football Club and the group,” Krueger said in the club’s official announcement. “Although there is a solid foundation in place, the club still has tremendous untapped commercial potential.”
“It is his experience as an expert in leadership, motivation and team-building that makes him ideally suited for this important position in the Saints organization,” owner and director Katharina Liebherr said.
“I’m trying always to look for opportunities that push me through new boundaries — experiences that aren’t easy,” Krueger said in an interview on the club’s YouTube page.
Krueger was part of the Hockey Canada staff for the Olympic gold-medal-winning men’s team as an adviser to head coach Mike Babcock and the coaching staff, outlining how best to play on the bigger international ice and scouting the European teams.
He joined Southampton following the Sochi Games as an adviser to Liebherr, replacing Nicola Cortese, who quit eight weeks ago.