Horst Hrubesch could be a minimalist with words. "Manni banana cross, me head - goal", he once said of his hugely-respected and long-serving team-mate Manfred ‘Manni’ Kaltz, considered by many to be the inventor of the inch-perfect, cross from the flanks.
Kaltz scored 76 goals in a total of 581 Bundesliga appearances, all of them for famous north German outfit Hamburg, with whom he won the European Cup in 1983, the domestic league title three times, and the German cup twice. For almost two decades, ‘Mr. Bundesliga’ was a fixture in defence for one of the league's founder members.
Kaltz also scored nine times in earning 69 Germany caps, and was a member of the 1980 UEFA European Championship winning side. He also played at the FIFA World Cup™ finals in 1978 and 1982.
"There were so many unforgettable times. The moment of winning is always fantastic, although the flip side is that the moment of defeat is always horrendous," Kaltz told FIFA.com.
One of the stalwart’s most painful moments came at the end of the 3-1 defeat to Italy in the 1982 FIFA World Cup Final. "But we simply had nothing more to give. We were still weary after the dramatic semi-final against France, when we went 3-1 behind but ended up winning on penalties. We were totally exhausted afterwards. We’d run out of strength by the time we met Italy. Obviously, we were totally devastated at the final whistle. Basically, second place is worth nothing."
The Ludwigshafen-born pro made his Bundesliga debut for Hamburg in 1971, and wore the club’s distinctive jersey without a break until 1989. After 18 seasons in the north of Germany, he spent a short period in France with Girondins Bordeaux and Mulhouse, before returning to his adopted and spiritual home in Hamburg.
As 53 of his 76 league goals came from the spot, Kaltz was long regarded as one of the great penalty-takers of his generation. However, he set Bundesliga records in other areas too. His 291 league wins rates second only to Oliver Kahn, and he is also second in terms of total appearances behind Karl-Heinz Koerbel on 602. His six own-goals stand as another, somewhat less desirable, German record.
The man with the ability to ‘bend it like a banana’ enjoyed a textbook career for his country. He represented Germany at every youth level before a first call-up to the senior team at the age of 22 in 1975. He scored nine times in 68 further appearances, and captained the three-time FIFA World Cup winners on six occasions.
‘Mr. Bundesliga’ was often described as cool, calculating and level-headed as a player – a hard-running, attack-minded right-back with a nose for goal. Would he still like to get out there and play when he goes to matches these days? "No, I don’t feel the urge to play again when I watch football. I’m simply enjoying my life, although I’ll watch a game on TV in the evening if it’s decent."
Kaltz, who worked briefly as Felix Magath’s assistant coach in the 1990s, remains actively involved in the game via the Manfred Kaltz Football Academy. "Our slogan is ‘Train like a pro’. I’m supported by former greats such as Michael Rummenigge, Matthias Herget and Bernd Foerster." Kaltz also sits on the board of trustees of the Stiftung Jugendfussball (Youth Football Foundation), which aims to imbue kids and youths with a passion for the game.
Although he is closely involved in youth development aspects of football, the 56-year-old is profoundly sceptical about the German national team’s future prospects and is not expecting his country to make much of an impact at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa. "Brazil, France and Italy are at a certain level. We’re rank outsiders.” A typically Kaltzian statement perhaps - cool, calculating and level-headed.