Infotainment Factory: The former Nazi that became an English football hero

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Friday, 26 July 2019

The former Nazi that became an English football hero


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With the international nature of the English Premier League today, it’s hard to think of a time when a non-British player could cause the type of stir that Bert Trautmann did in 1949.

But with the wounds so fresh in Britain from World War II, Manchester City’s signing of a former German prisoner of war was quite the controversy. Yet somehow Trautmann emerged years later as one of City’s most beloved, legendary players, and a new film The Keeper covers his remarkable story.

The Manchester City team that played in the 1956 FA. Cup Final beating Birmingham City 3-1

BEFORE BECOMING A FOOTBALL HERO

Bernd Trautmann (he would later go by Bert), like many young Germans in the 1930s, was part of the Jungvolk, an arm of Hitler Youth, where boys between the ages of 8-14 played sports and went camping and hiking, as well as becoming indoctrinated in the Nazi party and their ideologies. When Trautmann was old enough he joined the Luftwaffe, and rose to the rank of sergeant as a paratrooper, fighting mostly on the Eastern Front.

During the war he won five medals including the Iron Cross. He was captured three times, escaping the Soviet and French, before being captured by British forces in the dying stages of the war. After being taken as a prisoner of war classified as a low 'category B Nazi', he was transferred several times before he was held in a camp on the outskirts of Manchester, in Lancashire.

It was at this camp that he and other POWs played football in between labour, sometimes facing amateur teams. Trautmann had a talent in goal, and as the camp was set to close with the war coming to an end, he remained in England and worked on nearby farms.

By 1948 Trautmann was soon recruited to play goalkeeper for St Helens Town.

Manchester City's goalkeeper (once a German prisoner of war in Britain) acrobatically tips the ball around the post from a Tottenham Hotspur shot

A NEW LIFE IN ENGLAND PLAYING FOOTBALL

Not everyone was excited by his arrival at the club, but his goalkeeping ability was undeniable and soon he became a major attraction for supporters who flocked in their thousands to watch the former POW footballer.

In 1949 Manchester City showed interest and signed him.

The club was excited by their new recruit but when media got wind of his backstory, and with the scars of war so fresh, soon Manchester City and English football fans were up in arms. The club faced a massive backlash with boycotts threatened, the local Jewish community outraged, and in his first few games Trautmann was on the end of constant abuse from the stands.

His team stood by him though and soon his heroics in goal as well as his denouncement of his Nazi past, saw fans slowly embrace him.

Bert Trautmann after the 1956 FA Cup final.

BREAKING HIS NECK AT THE 1956 FA CUP

It would be at the 1956 FA Cup Final against Birmingham City where fans would finally see the devotion Trautmann had for football and his club, and where he would permanently earn himself a place in the hearts of City's supporters.

In the second half, with under 20 minutes left in the match he attempted a save at the charging run of Birmingham City’s Peter Murphy.

He took a horror knock to the head and his neck was jammed back.

Medical staff and trainers did what they could for him on the field, but he was in obvious pain. Still, he played on. This was before the days of injury substitutions. If he left the field, they would be a man down.

https://twitter.com/TheKeeperFilm/status/1114072688937639937

And so, he bravely endured the pain, bending over in agony, grabbing his neck at every jolt, and continued to play another 15 minutes of the game.

Trautmann made several crucial saves to seal the 3-1 victory for City, and help win the FA Cup for the club.

Later, it would emerge that he actually played with a broken neck, and he had to have his upper body, head and neck put in a cast as it healed in the many months following the match.

To add to his physical pain, a terrible tragedy struck Trautmann's family. While he was in hospital recuperating, his first-born son John killed at the age of just five in a car accident.

Manchester City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann dives at the feet of Birmingham's Murphy which broke his neck at the 1956 FA Cup final.

TRAUTMANN'S LEGACY

This month marked six years since his death at the age of 89.

Trautmann never represented his birth nation due to eligibility reasons playing in England, but he was a key figure in bridging the divide between German and UK people after the Second World War, and on the field his legacy as one the best international 'keepers in history remains.

As a result of his illustrious 508-game career over 15 years with Manchester City, he was the first goalkeeper named the Football Writers’ Association's footballer of the year (1956), he is in both England's and Germany's Football Hall of Fame and he was awarded the Order of the British Empire (2004).

Bert Trautmann meeting the Queen later in life

With the international nature of the English Premier League today, it’s hard to think of a time when a non-British player could cause the type of stir that Bert Trautmann did in 1949.

But with the wounds so fresh in Britain from World War II, Manchester City’s signing of a former German prisoner of war was quite the controversy. Yet somehow Trautmann emerged years later as one of City’s most beloved, legendary players, and a new film The Keeper covers his remarkable story.

The Manchester City team that played in the 1956 FA. Cup Final beating Birmingham City 3-1

BEFORE BECOMING A FOOTBALL HERO

Bernd Trautmann (he would later go by Bert), like many young Germans in the 1930s, was part of the Jungvolk, an arm of Hitler Youth, where boys between the ages of 8-14 played sports and went camping and hiking, as well as becoming indoctrinated in the Nazi party and their ideologies. When Trautmann was old enough he joined the Luftwaffe, and rose to the rank of sergeant as a paratrooper, fighting mostly on the Eastern Front.

During the war he won five medals including the Iron Cross. He was captured three times, escaping the Soviet and French, before being captured by British forces in the dying stages of the war. After being taken as a prisoner of war classified as a low 'category B Nazi', he was transferred several times before he was held in a camp on the outskirts of Manchester, in Lancashire.

It was at this camp that he and other POWs played football in between labour, sometimes facing amateur teams. Trautmann had a talent in goal, and as the camp was set to close with the war coming to an end, he remained in England and worked on nearby farms.

By 1948 Trautmann was soon recruited to play goalkeeper for St Helens Town.

Manchester City's goalkeeper (once a German prisoner of war in Britain) acrobatically tips the ball around the post from a Tottenham Hotspur shot

A NEW LIFE IN ENGLAND PLAYING FOOTBALL

Not everyone was excited by his arrival at the club, but his goalkeeping ability was undeniable and soon he became a major attraction for supporters who flocked in their thousands to watch the former POW footballer.

In 1949 Manchester City showed interest and signed him.

The club was excited by their new recruit but when media got wind of his backstory, and with the scars of war so fresh, soon Manchester City and English football fans were up in arms. The club faced a massive backlash with boycotts threatened, the local Jewish community outraged, and in his first few games Trautmann was on the end of constant abuse from the stands.

His team stood by him though and soon his heroics in goal as well as his denouncement of his Nazi past, saw fans slowly embrace him.

Bert Trautmann after the 1956 FA Cup final.

BREAKING HIS NECK AT THE 1956 FA CUP

It would be at the 1956 FA Cup Final against Birmingham City where fans would finally see the devotion Trautmann had for football and his club, and where he would permanently earn himself a place in the hearts of City's supporters.

In the second half, with under 20 minutes left in the match he attempted a save at the charging run of Birmingham City’s Peter Murphy.

He took a horror knock to the head and his neck was jammed back.

Medical staff and trainers did what they could for him on the field, but he was in obvious pain. Still, he played on. This was before the days of injury substitutions. If he left the field, they would be a man down.

https://twitter.com/TheKeeperFilm/status/1114072688937639937

And so, he bravely endured the pain, bending over in agony, grabbing his neck at every jolt, and continued to play another 15 minutes of the game.

Trautmann made several crucial saves to seal the 3-1 victory for City, and help win the FA Cup for the club.

Later, it would emerge that he actually played with a broken neck, and he had to have his upper body, head and neck put in a cast as it healed in the many months following the match.

To add to his physical pain, a terrible tragedy struck Trautmann's family. While he was in hospital recuperating, his first-born son John killed at the age of just five in a car accident.

Manchester City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann dives at the feet of Birmingham's Murphy which broke his neck at the 1956 FA Cup final.

TRAUTMANN'S LEGACY

This month marked six years since his death at the age of 89.

Trautmann never represented his birth nation due to eligibility reasons playing in England, but he was a key figure in bridging the divide between German and UK people after the Second World War, and on the field his legacy as one the best international 'keepers in history remains.

As a result of his illustrious 508-game career over 15 years with Manchester City, he was the first goalkeeper named the Football Writers’ Association's footballer of the year (1956), he is in both England's and Germany's Football Hall of Fame and he was awarded the Order of the British Empire (2004).

Bert Trautmann meeting the Queen later in life https://ift.tt/2LGg6z7
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