One of the best Goalkeepers in the World...

If you asked someone in England -especially here in the Greater Manchester area - who they would count among the best goalkeepers of the world you could be certain to hear the name Bernd/Bertie Trautmann. A German name, a German goalkeeper and Englishman declare him to be one of the best goalkeepers in the world even now decades after he ended career? Well - it's the story of an extraordinary life which even shows that and how understanding among nations can work even under most difficult conditions.

Bernd Traumann was born in Bremen in 1923. Already when he was a boy he showed a lot of interest in sports - especially in football and when he was eight years old he joined Tura Bremen football youth as a midfielder. As he was rather talented his way in these times inevitable led him into the Hitler Youth. At the age of 17 he was as convinced by the ideology so he deliberately joined the air force and fought as a paratrooper in France and on the East front. A short while before end of World War Two he was made a prisoner of war in Russia and was brought to a POW camp in England. He was relocated several times, but in all camps soccer was played and one day, when there was no goalkeeper Trautmann filled in.

Trautmann, who always said his real education only started in England, liked England so much he decided to stay there after he was dismissed. He was goalkeeper for St.Helens Town and when one day his club played in a friendly match against Manchester City they cast an eye on him. At that time they were looking for a successor for national goalkeeper Frank Swift who intended to end his career.

So in the season 1949/50 Trautmann was signed on as goalkeeper - which was quite a scandal in England such a short time after World War Two when neither Germany nor the Germans were at all popular. Letters of protest were written, fans returned their season tickets, Trautmann was barracked. But slowly Bertie stole the hearts of the fans. He impressed with them with his physical appearance as he was tall, athletic and good looking. His performance convinced the crowds and so did his character though he was considered to be quick-tempered.
By 1956 he had risen as highly in the esteem of the British that his colleagues made him "soccer player of the year".

John Gwynne, one of the Sky Sort commentators describes his first encounter with Trautmann -today still one of his sporting heroes - as follows: We were a group of youths, around 12 years old and we knew Trautmann was a joint-owner of a garage nearby. So from time to time we hang about there hoping to catch sight of him. And really one day he was there. We first didn't dare to move closer. Bertie had watched for a long time. Finally one of us plucked up the courage to walk over to him and asked him for an autograph. So we all followed in the end. We all got our autographs and proudly returned home.

Then one day after Trautmann got the "soccer player of the year" award something happened which made him irretrievable a sporting hero. On this day in May 1956 Manchester City played against Birmingham in the final of the FA Cup in the old Wembley stadium in London. More than 100 000 people were there. Trautmann of course stood in the goal. 15 minutes before the end of the match he injured himself by a save. Nevertheless he played till the end and Manchester City won 3:1. When he was examined later because he complained about back pain it was discovered he had broken his neck. That he survived at all and even finished the match in this state is a medical miracle.

Trautmann played for Manchester City till 1964 and then retired at the age of 41. He was never nominated for the German national team but at this time it was still rather unusual for a player to play in a foreign country.

Trautman till today is closely connected with Manchester City and travels there several times a year though today he prefers the milder climate of Valencia where he lives now.

After his career he for some time worked for Manchester City. For one season he then coached Preußen Münster and visited the German national team. Many years he travelled as ambassador for the sport and as advisory coach to countries like Liberia, Pakistan, Tasmania and Burma.

Trautmann got several awards, among them the Bundesverdienstkreuz, and in 2004 the British Queen awarded him the OBE for his services in British-German rapprochement.

In 2004 Trautmann established the Trautmann Foundation, a Foundation which wants to promote the German-British friendship through football. That still is near and dear for Trautmann though today there are no problems when a German football player competes for a British football club. And certainly some of the credit for this belongs to Bertie Trautman.

Contact © Global Darts. All Rights Reserved. Impressum