Fritz walter celebrates his 100th birthday.the “hero of berne” unforgotten

Fritz walter celebrates his 100th birthday.the 'hero of berne' unforgotten

The grand gala is cancelled because of corona. But in these days all of fubball germany remembers its perhaps greatest hero nevertheless.

Fritz walter, captain of the legendary 1954 world champion team, was on saturday (31 december).10.) turned 100 years old. The "miracle of bern" is often called by historians the true birth of the federal republic. Only one of the players from the 3:2 final victory against hungary, who were considered superior, is still alive: horst eckel. "We had a nice birthday then. He did not celebrate alone. Everyone who was still there from back then went," the 88-year-old said wistfully in an interview with the deutsche presse-agentur.

Fritz walter died on 17. June 2002 at the age of 81 in his house in enkenbach-alsenborn, half a year after the death of his wife italia. The city of kaiserslautern, his club FCK and the german football association commemorate the rude sportsman in exhibitions and on internet sites. The honorary captain of the national team played 61 international matches (33 goals) and became unforgettable with his triumph in the 1954 tournament in switzerland.

The germans lost 3:8 to ferenc puskas’ eleven in the preliminary round, and were down 0:2 after just eight minutes in the final match. Helmut rahn scores 3:2 in wankdorf stadium shortly before the end of the game. "From behind the scenes rahn had to push ? Rahn pushes ? Tooooor! Tooooor! Tooooor! Tooooor!" the reporter herbert zimmermann, who has become famous as a result of this, called it out. And then: "off, off, off ? From! ? The game is over! ? Germany is world champion?"

Even today, these words and images bring tears to the eyes of many germans. "We are who we are again! That was certainly the feeling of millions of people." this is how long-serving german chancellor helmut kohl once described the mood in the postwar period. Nine years after the end of world war II, the triumph gave an entire nation a new sense of self-worth – and made fritz walter an ever-modest role model for generations to come. Historian joachim fest saw it this way: "there are three founding fathers of the federal republic: politically it’s adenauer, economically it’s erhard and mentally it’s fritz walter."

Fritz walter stayed true to his 1. FC kaiserslautern, for whom he played from 1928 to 1959 and played 384 games for the first team (327 goals), always loyal. Offers from abroad rejected by the son of the landlord of the club’s guesthouse: "deham is deham."He was german champion with the pfalz club in 1951 and 1953, but the war robbed him of his best years as a player.

In 1940 he was drafted into the armed forces. Five years later, he was to be transported from a prison camp to siberia, but the guards recognized the footballer. Fritz walter later described the decisive match with the camp police as the "game of his life," which probably saved him from death in the camps. In october 1945, he returned to kaiserslautern.

Uwe seeler remembers his idol in "kicker": "when I took my first steps in the DFB jersey in october 1954, shortly after the world cup triumph in berne, he had hero status. I was therefore very impressed by how modest he was."The three-time world cup participant always tried to imitate him: "to be modest, never to forget where you come from."

Miroslav klose played for the 1" as a child, teenager and young adult. FC kaiserslautern often as a fan in the west curve. "You quickly realize – fritz walter is a myth," says the 2014 world champion. As a professional, he looked forward to meeting his idol in the VIP room after every home game. Later, after scoring goals for the national team, he sent him heartfelt letters of congratulations and a bottle of his fritz walter sparkling wine: "I never opened them, they’re still on my parents’ shelf."

Five years after the "miracle of berne," which he experienced as a 33-year-old, the idol ended his career. The red devils have been playing in the fritz walter stadium on the betzenberg since 1985, where the club’s legends – in addition to brothers fritz and ottmar walter, horst eckel, werner kohlmeyer and werner liebrich – are immortalized in bronze.

"When we played football on the strabe as kids, everyone wanted to be fritz walter. The veneration was deep inside you at the time," says former rhineland-palatinate minister president kurt beck (SPD), who is still noticeably moved today. Beck was also the one who named the soccer player an honorary citizen of the state in 2000 – a title that no one else holds.

Because the brilliant playmaker liked to play in the rain, as he did in the final game in berne, from then on people often spoke of "fritz-walter-weather. In interviews about the world cup triumph, the exceptional athlete repeatedly referred to national coach sepp herberger – or his teammates: the secret of success was "the twelfth man: the boss, herberger," and "our wonderful camaraderie".

Horst eckel, the youngest member of the world cup team at the time, always had a special relationship with fritz walter. It was a "father-son relationship". The photo of the two of them being carried on the shoulders of spectators and the captain holding the trophy in his hand is probably the most famous from 1954.

Eckel does not believe that his friend from his 100th birthday is a man. He had made "something very rough" for his 50th birthday. "He was not a good speaker either. Well, when he made a speech, he certainly didn’t like to do it," he said with a laugh. The last survivor of the ’54 heroes hopes that he will see fritz walter again someday in heaven. "Then we continue with fubball, as we did before. It was a good time."

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