As the 2018 FIFA World Cup approaches, DFB.de takes you on a journey back through West Germany’s previous appearances at the tournament, bringing you everything from historic matches to unusual anecdotes. Today, we look back at 1966…
The 1966 World Cup was hosted by England and the tournament was preceded by the theft of the Jules Rimet trophy. It was eventually found wrapped in newspaper in a bush by Pickles, a dog who became a hero of the tournament. For the first time since 1934, the German World Cup coach was not Sepp Herberger. Helmut Schön had taken over the duties in 1964. Three “Italians”, Schnellinger, Haller and Brülls were named in the squad. Schön selected a squad of players from eight clubs, including five World Cup rookies.
The team’s first game in the group stage came against Switzerland. Schön sent the team out in a 4-2-4 formation, with Beckenbauer and Haller in midfield. Both teams weren’t heavily fancied to win the World Cup – English bookmakers had West Germany sixth favourites to win (12/1 odds), while Switzerland were a 100/1 tip. Swiss defender Richard Dürr prophesised: “We have hardly any chance against West Germany; they’re a lot better than they were in 1962.” The game ended 5-0 for West Germany, with the goals coming from Siggi Held, two from Franz Beckenbauer and another two from Helmut Haller, one of which was a 78th-minute penalty. Franz Beckenbauer’s brace came on his World Cup debut at only 20 years. Captain Uwe Seeler produced two assists. “The longer the game went on, the more brightly the young star Beckenbauer shone. He is everything a footballer can be,” said Spain coach José Villalonga after the match.
“Of course I’m happy with a 5-0 win, but I would’ve also been satisfied with a 1-0. Switzerland were strong at the start, but we found a rhythm after the first goal and then I knew we would win the game. The team could have played better, but you know that there was pressure on the players,” said Schön, reflected on the outcome of the game. English newspaper The Daily Mirror wrote “Beckenbauer, the fabulous Franz is tall, dark, good-looking and only 20 years old: he is certain to be a big star at this World Cup.”
Die Mannschaft’s second group game was against Argentina and was played in Villa Park. Following the outstanding performance against Switzerland, Schön sent out an unchanged side, which was a first since Schön took over two years previously. “The Argentinians will be a hard nut to crack. Their defence is very tight and talented. Like West Germany, Argentina had also won their first group fixture (2-1 against Spain) and were full of confidence after two wins over reigning World Cup holders Brazil (3-0 and 3-2). The match not a great one for the neutral and ended goalless. German newspaper Die Welt joked that “chances were as rare as whales in the Rhine.” Although there were no goals, there were a grand total of 32 fouls and Die Welt described the match as “angry football.” Schön said after the game: “I’m happy with the result, but not with the team’s performance.”
Schön took several days to consider changes and ended up brining in two new players to the team and shuffling around several positions on the pitch. The changes meant that Lothar Emmerich was handed his second international start.
On the way to the game, the bus carrying the players’ wives and girlfriends as well as several officials, reporters, fans and Sepp Herberger was involved in an accident. Most came away with light cuts and grazes; only the driver and West Germany representative Alf Riemke came away with injuries. Riemke remained in England for two weeks after the end of the World Cup in a hospital.
Die Mannschaft played in Birmingham again, but this time returned to wearing their traditional black shorts after wearing all white for the first time in the previous game. Spain went into a deserved one-goal lead through Fusté and Die Mannschaft were behind for the first time in the tournament. However, Lothar Emmerich scored a spectacular goal from an impossible angle to level the match in the 39th minute. There was a “clear penalty” not awarded to West Germany for a foul on Uwe Seeler shortly after the restart, but the striker made up for it, scoring the winner in the closing stages of the game. West Germany went into the quarter-finals as group winners. Argentina, who finished runners-up in the group, went on to face hosts England in the quarter-finals, while West Germany faced Uruguay.
For the quarter-final, Schön brought Haller into the starting line-up for Krämer as the only change, which meant that West Germany had to play virtually without a right winger, so Haller and Seeler shared the job. It was only the third international game between West Germany and Uruguay and the first ever at a World Cup. The South Americans travelled six hours by bus and train to Hillsborough for the game and did not eat for four hours before the game, on the instructions of coach Ondino Viera. After having scored only two goals in their three group stage matches, Uruguay were looking to change that in order to win a third World Cup title. The game got off to a fiery and controversial start as Hector Silva kicked West Germany goalkeeper Hans Tilkowski in the face as he lay on the ground; this was just the start of the battle. “We were all waiting for the referee to point to the spot,” said Tilkowski, but the referee didn’t see the incident and the match went on. Siggi Held scored the opener from around 20 metres out, but the ball touched Haller’s leg on the way in and FIFA awarded the goal to Haller. The Germans had been under huge pressure before the opener, with Uruguay probing Tilkowski five times within six minutes. Two of Uruguay’s players, Horacio Troche and Hector Silva were sent off within ten minutes of the start of the second half as the match became increasingly aggressive and heated. Beckenbauer’s goal in the 70th minute virtually sealed the win, before Seeler’s and Haller’s subsequent goals confirmed a place in the semi-finals for West Germany.
The semi-finals saw West Germany play the Soviet Union and England face Portugal. The Soviet Union had been strong over the years beforehand, winning Euro 1960 and finishing runners-up in 1964. The biggest name in their squad was legendary goalkeeper Lev Yashin. Surprisingly, there was only one injury for West Germany after the quarter-final battle. Frankfurt’s Friedel Lutz came in to replace Höttges in defence and make his World Cup debut. He became only the 14th player to make an appearance for West Germany at the tournament – eight had yet to come off the bench.
West Germany dominated the opening 30 minutes and Seeler in particular put Yashin under pressure, while Tilkowski was only needed in the 23rd minute. Yashin, meanwhile, was kept very busy and was proving extremely difficult to beat for West Germany, until Haller finally found the net after 43 minutes. The crowd’s general disinterest in the game due to England’s semi-final the next day seemed to spur the players on and encourage an attractive style of football. Beckenbauer doubled West Germany’s advantage in the 68th minute with a shot from distance. Tilkowski, who was in pain after hurting his shoulder during the match, made his first mistake of the World Cup to allow the Soviet Union a comeback goal two minutes before the final whistle. Luckily however, his World Cup journey was not over.
West Germany faced England in the final showdown of the tournament. The two countries had never played each other in a World Cup before. Schön selected the same side which had beaten Uruguay so convincingly in the quarter-finals and the Bild newspaper described as “the best eleven”. Wembley Stadium was of course sold out for the event and even the Queen was in attendance along with 12,000 German fans who had made the trip. England had only conceded one goal in the tournament (in the semi-final to Portugal) and were sticking to the principle of never changing a winning team.
After a collision with England’s Hunt in the fifth minute, Tilkowski remained on the ground, but had to carry on as no substitutions were permitted under the rules of the match. Haller sent a low driven shot into the bottom left corner to send West Germany into a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute. However, Geoff Hurst headed home completely unmarked to equalise the match only five minutes later. Tilkowski stayed down again 70 minutes in, but managed to get back up after a collision with Bobby Charlton. Then, with 12 minutes of normal time to play, Martin Peters pounced on a loose ball from a corner to put England 2-1 up. German radio commentator Herbert Zimmermann said in the 90th minute: “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t think that our forwards will be able to get another.” However, defender Wolfgang Weber slid into the convert an Emmerich free kick in the dying seconds and the goal sent the match into added time. Helmut Schön said that England coach Alf Ramsey turned to him and shrugged at this point. Every football fan knows what happened at this point: Bobby Charlton struck the post in the 94th minute, then Hurst’s shot from five metres out hit the crossbar in the 101st minute and the ball rebounded down to the floor. It remains controversial to this day as to whether the ball fully crossed the line or not, but referee Gottfried Dienst awarded the goal after talking to linesman Tefik Bachramow. Hurst scored again in the 120th minute to put the match to bed and England won the 1966 World Cup title.
West Germany 5-0 Switzerland - 12th July 1966, Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield (36,127 spectators)
Goals: 1-0 Held (16'), 2-0 Haller (21'), 3-0 Beckenbauer (40'), 4-0 Beckenbauer (52'), 5-0 Haller (77' pen.)
Argentina 0-0 West Germany - 16th July 1966, Villa Park, Birmingham (46,587 spectators)
West Germany 2-1 Spain - 20th July 1966, Villa Park, Birmingham (42,187 spectators)
Goals: 0-1 Fusté (23'), 1-1 Emmerich (39'), 2-1 Seeler (84')
West Germany 4-0 Uruguay - 23rd July 1966, Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield (35,000 spectators)
Goals: 1-0 Haller (11’), 2-0 Beckenbauer (70'), 3-0 Seeler (75'), 4-0 Haller (83')
West Germany 2-1 Soviet Union - 25th July 1966, Goodison Park, Liverpool (38,273 spectators)
Goals: 1-0 Haller (42’), 2-0 Beckenbauer (68'), 2-1 Porkujan (87')
England 2-1 West Germany - 30th July 1966, Wembley, London (96,924 spectators)
Goals: 0-1 Haller (12’), 1-1 Hurst (18'), 2-1 Peters (78'), 2-2 Weber (90'), 3-2 Hurst (101'), 4-2 Hurst (120')