They had a sweeper with more skill than a striker, a permed rocket-launcher who played where he chose, and a predator with 64-centimetre thighs. They had nicknames like ‘The Terrier’, ‘The Cat From Anzing’, ‘Iron Foot’, ‘Der Kaiser’ and ‘Der Bomber’. They were, of course, Helmut Schon’s West Germans. They produced some enrapturing statistics over FIFA World Cup™ campaigns in England, Mexico and on home soil.
minutes is what Uwe Seeler played in the World Cup – a figure surpassed by only Paolo Maldini (2,220) and Lothar Matthaus (2,052). The Hamburg legend’s total of 21 World Cup appearances is outranked by just Matthaus (25), Miroslav Klose (24) and Maldini (23). Seeler recorded those figures despite participating when it was only a 16-team event.
yards from goal is where Helmut Haller received possession in West Germany’s 1966 opener, before running the length of the Hillsborough turf into Switzerland’s box and slotting his side 2-0 up. No player in World Cup history had received the ball further out and, without relinquishing it, scored.
minutes is what the showdown between Poland and West Germany – an effective play-off for a place in the 1974 decider – was delayed as the Frankfurt fire department worked to make the waterlogged Waldstadion pitch playable. It was not the only West Germany game that didn’t kick-off on time. “I was just about to blow my whistle to begin the Final when I noticed we had no corner flags!, explained referee Jack Taylor. “We had to wait, with millions of people watching around the world, for some little man to run to each corner of the ground and put the flags in.”
yards is the distance from which Paul Breitner rocketed home West Germany’s only goal against Chile in their 1974 curtain-raiser. It followed a lovely ten-pass move.
goals inside the six-yard box is the World Cup record belonging to Gerd Muller. Compatriot Miroslav Klose managed a next-best six, while France’s Just Fontaine and England’s Gary Lineker got five apiece. Not one of Muller’s 14 World Cup goals came from outside the penalty area, while 50 per cent of them were headers (5) or volleys (2).
weeks after wearing white adidas shirts and black shorts in the Olympiastadion decider, Bernd Holzenbein and Jurgen Grabowski wore identical kit in another final. The 1973/74 DFB-Pokal’s conclusion was delayed due to the World Cup. Holzenbein, who won the West German penalty with which Paul Breitner equalised against the Netherlands, lobbed Eintracht Frankfurt ahead in extra-time, while Grabowski set up the late Wolfgang Kraus header that sealed a 3-1 win in Dusseldorf.
minutes is effectively what Erwin Kremers was away from going to the tournament – and from him and brother Helmut ensuring the tenth World Cup had two sets of twins (it had never before had one). Five minutes remained in Schalke’s last game of the 1973/74 season when the blond forward became enraged at referee Max Klauser, repeatedly calling him a “stupid pig”, for which he was sent off. He received a 14-match ban from football, which made him ineligible for the World Cup, which his sibling and Rene and Willy van de Kerkhof went to.
goals in extra-time – a World Cup record – is what West Germany and Italy served up in no less than a semi-final in 1970. Roberto Boninsegna fired La Nazionale into an eighth-minute lead, only for Karl-Heinz Schnellinger to volley home an equaliser – with what proved to be the only goal he scored in 47 appearances for his country – in stoppage time. Astonishingly, it proved the first of six goals in 21 minutes – a spell which ended when Gianni Rivera hit the winner just 21 seconds after play had restarted following Gerd Muller’s leveller. Courageously, Franz Beckenbauer played the last half-hour in the ‘Match of the Century’ with his arm in a sling after dislocating his shoulder towards the end of normal time.
goals per game is what West Germany’s 12 matches averaged at the 1966 and 1970 World Cups – not bad for a side schooled by a supposedly defence-conscious coach. By contrast, England’s outings at those same tournaments averaged 2.2 goals per game.
minutes is what Seeler pipped Pele by to become the first man to score in four World Cups. Brazil and West Germany kicked off their 1970 campaigns simultaneously, against Czechoslovakia at the Estadio Jalisco and Morocco at the ‘other’ Camp Nou respectively.
top-three finishes is what Helmut Schon is the only coach to have achieved. He guided West Germany to second place in 1966, third four years later and gold in 1974. Vittorio Pozzo, Carlos Bilardo, Franz Beckenbauer and Mario Zagallo managed two each.
o’clock in the afternoon was the time at which Schon finally emerged from his hotel room the day after West Germany’s stunning defeat to East Germany in their final group game. Despite the West Germans having already qualified for the next phase, and the result meaning they avoided Argentina, defending champions Brazil and the on-fire Netherlands in their second-round section, Schon was devastated at losing to the country in which he was born. The 58-year-old no-showed at the team lunch, and forced the cancellation of his afternoon press conference.
reigning continental champions – a surprisingly low total – have won the World Cup. West Germany were the first in 1974. Spain followed suit in 2010.
yards from the touchline was where Lothar Emmerich was when he netted his angle-defying half-volley against Spain in 1966. Manuel Sanchis, marking Emmerich that day at Villa Park, described it to reporters afterwards as “the hardest shot I have ever or will ever see” – and he was a team-mate of Ferenc Puskas at Real Madrid! Emmerich made four appearances at England 1966, but curiously played only one other international.