Star turns by England's German imports
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England and Germany share one of international football’s most intense rivalries. However, that hasn’t stopped Germans becoming terrace idols for English clubs over the years. As Mesut Ozil and Andre Schurrle attempt to become the latest, FIFA.com highlights five outstanding individual performances they’d love to emulate.

Bert Trautmann
Manchester City-Birmingham City
FA Cup final, 5 May 1956

Bernd Trautmann spent the few years subsequent to World War II in a Prisoner of War camp in Lancashire. There, he persuaded camp authorities to let the inmates form a football team to play local sides. During one of those games against Haydock Park, the centre-back sustained an injury that rendered him unable to kick the ball. Rather than leave his team-mates at a numerical disadvantage, Trautmann went in goal for the remainder of the match – and a professional career that positional switch kick-started. Bert, as he became known due to the English’s inability to pronounce Bernd, went from non-league St Helens Town to top flight Manchester City in 1949 and won the prestigious FWA Footballer of the Year award in May 1956. Two days later Trautmann was between the Manchester City sticks for the FA Cup final against a heavily favoured Birmingham City side. Trautmann had already made a couple of customarily courageous saves – and had a hand in the Jack Dyson goal that sent Les McDowall’s Mancunians into a 3-1 lead – when, in 73rd minute, his bravery cost him dearly. In hurtling himself at the feet of Peter Murphy and smothering the ball, he took a vicious, albeit accidental, knee to the head. When he drifted out of concussion, Trautmann was in agony – unbeknownst to him he had broken his neck – but he refused to leave his team down a man and carried on to resounding applause from the spectators. Undeterred, Trautmann incautiously flung himself at the daunting boots of Eddy Brown and then Murphy, seizing the ball and recoiling in discomfort on both occasions. Those actions ensured Roy Paul climbed those 39 steps and lifted the FA Cup. When Trautmann, directly behind his captain, was presented with his winners’ medal, Prince Phillip commented on the crooked state of the German’s neck. Trautmann brushed it off, but a few days later an X-ray revealed he had dislocated five vertebrae in his neck, the second of which was cracked in two, forcing him to spend five months encased in plaster and play the rest of his career in a protective cap.

Jurgen Klinsmann
Wimbledon-Tottenham Hotspur
Premier League, 2 May 1998

Jurgen Klinsmann was an unpopular acquisition by Tottenham Hotspur in 1994. The blond-maned striker had helped Germany eliminate England from the 1990 FIFA World Cup Italy™ and was derided as a diver. Klinsmann swiftly won over the Spurs faithful with the winner in a 4-3 success at Sheffield Wednesday on his debut and a self-deprecatingly dive to celebrate that leaping header, and he finished it as the FWA Footballer of the Year before leaving for Bayern Munich. There was, however, an altogether different mood when Klinsmann returned to White Hart Lane midway through the 1997/98 season, and heading into the penultimate round away to Wimbledon, Tottenham were in danger of relegation. Klinsmann and Les Ferdinand combined the ease those fears on 18 minutes, with the former’s pinpoint knock-down enabling the latter to stab home the opener, but a quick-fire Peter Fear double had Wimbledon 2-1 up at the half-hour. That was the end of Fear’s net-rippling. It was time for Klinsmann’s. Within 20 minutes either side of half-time, the 33-year-old scored four goals – all very different – to rocket Spurs into a three-goal advantage, before his sumptuous back-heel set up Moussa Saib to seal a stunning 6-2 victory. Four goals and two assists ensured ‘Walking in a Klinsmann wonderland’ bellowed around Selhurst Park at full time – and that Tottenham would be walking in the Premier League the following campaign.

Dietmar Hamann
AC Milan-Liverpool
UEFA Champions League final, 25 May 2005

Liverpool were light years off a solution to the Kaka conundrum in the first half of the UEFA Champions League final. The Brazilian’s swashbuckling runs and defence-piercing passes had thrust AC Milan into a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 lead. Rafa Benitez was desperate at the break – desperate enough to summon Dietmar Hamann from the bench despite the defensive midfielder having a broken toe. The Reds manager’s mandate was simple: “Take care of Kaka.” Carrying it out was anything but. That’s what Hamann nevertheless managed thanks to his cerebral reading of the game and masterful tackling, and his neutralisation of Milan’s heartbeat was indispensable in Liverpool producing a heroic comeback to take the contest to penalties. And if Hamann hadn’t already done enough, he scored Liverpool’s first penalty in the shoot-out to put them en route to completing the mother of all comebacks and lifting the trophy in Istanbul.

Jens Lehmann
Villarreal-Arsenal
UEFA Champions League semi-final, second leg, 25 April 2006

Lehmann’s ninth successive clean sheet in the Champions League helped send Arsenal to Spain’s east coast at a one-goal advantage. The 36-year-old did enough over 90 minutes at El Madrigal to account for another nine shutouts. Villarreal laid siege to the Gunners goal from the outset, but Lehmann stymied and stupefied Juan Roman Riquelme, Juan Pablo Sorin, Diego Forlan, Guillermo Franco and Co throughout. Then, in the 89th minute, the hosts were awarded a penalty. Up stepped the seemingly infallible Riquelme, aiming to send the semi to extra time, but Lehmann dived south-west to cap a magnificent individual performance and earn Arsenal a 0-0 draw on the night and a place in the final of Europe’s top club competition for the first time.

Michael Ballack
Chelsea-Manchester United
Premier League, 26 April 2008

Chelsea were three points behind Manchester United when they hosted them in the third-last round of the 2007/08 Premier League. “Nothing less than victory will do,” declared Blues manager Avram Grant. In the absence of his fundamental fellow midfielder Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack assumed responsibility. The three-time German Football of the Year’s vision and passing harassed United from the outset, and he broke the deadlock with a header of unerring accuracy on the stroke of half-time. After Wayne Rooney had equalised, Ballack and Didier Drogba had a famous bust-up over who would take a free-kick, but they swiftly put it behind them and linked up in the move which led to a Chelsea winning a penalty. Ballack unhesitatingly grabbed the ball and this time the only argument Drogba made was to the United players who were attempting to put the Chelsea No13 off his spot-kick. It didn’t work, as the 31-year-old sent Edwin van der Sar diving towards one post and powered the ball inside the other to clinch a 2-1 win. “Bally was tremendous,” said John Terry afterwards. “Without Frank we really needed him, and he was unplayable.”