The former Germany and Manchester City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann has died at the age of 89, the German Football Association has announced.
Trautmann made a name for himself in England with City after originally arriving as a prisoner of war. He played more than 500 times for the club between 1949 and 1964 while he was bestowed with an honorary OBE for his work in promoting Anglo-German post-war relations.
Trautmann was an FA Cup winner with City in 1956, playing the final 17 minutes of the 3-1 win against Birmingham at Wembley with a broken neck.
After his playing days, Trautmann moved into management with Stockport before returning to his native Germany in 1967 to coach Preussen Münster.
Having survived two heart attacks, Trautmann passed away at his home in La Llosa, near Valencia, on Friday morning.
Wolfgang Niersbach, the president of the German FA, said: “Bert Trautmann was an amazing sportsman and a true gentleman. He went to England as a soldier, and thus a war enemy, and he became a celebrated hero there. He was a legend.
“We were in very close contact since 1996, when he was part of our official delegation when we won the European Championships in England. The DFB had invited him to Nuremberg in October, but he turned down the invitation because it was the same time he wanted to celebrate his 90th birthday. That makes this news even more surprising.”
In an interview two years ago, Trautmann admitted that being known primarily for that FA Cup final injury rankled – for him, becoming the first German player to play in an FA Cup final at Wembley a year earlier had rated higher.
“That was something absolutely magnificent,” he said. “We lost 3-1 to Newcastle United on the day and yes, you feel a little sorry for yourself that you lose such a huge game, but it was an amazing day and I just looked around the stadium and thought ‘you lucky man!’
“Then, of course, we returned a year later and won, but of course many people remember the game because of the injury I sustained during the match. I played over 500 league games for City but that moment is still the one people refer to, so it can be a little frustrating at times because no matter how well I played during that time, people will still say ‘ah, you’re the fellow who broke his neck playing at Wembley’. I’ll admit it’s not something I particularly like but it’s something I’ve had to live with.”
As a teenager in Germany, Trautmann had been enlisted in the Hitler Youth, became a paratrooper and was captured on the Russian front. He managed to escape and was re-captured by Allied troops and sent to a PoW camp near Wigan, where he first start playing in goal.
After being released and marrying a local girl, he played for non-league St Helen’s Town, and impressed in a friendly against City, who took him on despite knowing he would receive a hostile reception from opposition fans.
Joe Corrigan, one of Trautmann’s successors as City’s keeper, said the German had been a “friend and mentor” who helped him with advice after he had broken into the first team. He said: “Bert was a fantastic man and was one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, and I’m proud to have called him both a friend and a mentor.
“As a keeper, Bert had everything. He was agile, intelligent, commanding and brave and is a true legend in every sense of the word. A couple of years ago he wrote the foreword for my autobiography – the words he wrote still send a shiver down my spine.”