||31 Oct 1920
||17 Jun 2002
1954 and 1958
One of the true
legends in German football, Fritz Walter, will always have a special position in his own
country. Born in 1920, he missed many years of his career because of World War II, but
still made his debut for the national team during those years. He played only for one club
through-out his career, his birthtown club 1.FC Kaiserslautern where he won two German
league championships as a playmaker and striker in the early 1950s.
In 1954, national team coach Sepp Herberger made
Fritz Walter his captain as the West German team travelled across the border to Switzerland to
participate in their first World Cup after the war. Walter was now 33 and lead the Germans
through to the final where they met Hungary. A team which hadn’t lost a match in four
years! The Germans, with many reserves, lost 8-3 in the first round when the two teams met
earlier in the tournament, and despite trailing by two goals already after ten minutes in the
final, Walter drove his team forward. Amazingly enough, West Germany recovered and
scored a winning goal in the dying minutes to win their first World Cup. Also
in the team was Fritz's brother Ottmar making them the first brothers to win
the World Cup. A proud captain Fritz Walter, who scored three goals in the
tournament himself, could collect the trophy.
Walter captained West Germany also in the 1958 World
Cup in Sweden as they reached the semifinals losing to the hosts 3-1 in Gothenburg. Fritz
retired the following year, but coach Herberger had a hard time accepting that, and he
seriously tried to persuade Walter to join the German team for the Chile World Cup in 1962
with no success. Walter was then almost 42! To illustrate his greatness and position, Fritz
Walter made the German Team of the Century voted by the people in 1999. Kaiserslautern
paid tribute to him by naming their stadium after him on his 65th birthday in 1985.
| 1954 | 1958
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