Legendary Goalkeeper Bernhard 'Bert' Trautmann Passes Away at Age 89

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 19, 2013

Known as one of the most successful goalkeepers of all time, Bernhard "Bert" Trautmann accomplished great things during his 15 years at Manchester City. The German soccer legend died on Friday at the age of 89, according to BBC Sport.

Trautmann's story is an interesting one.

He served as a Nazi paratrooper during World War II, according to Louise Taylor of The Guardian. Trautmann was one of only 90 men from his 1,000-person regiment still alive in 1945, and he made the most of the second chance he was given.

According to Taylor, Trautmann began to understand the error of Nazi Germany's ways when he was captured by British soldiers in 1944. Trautmann said that Germany's youth was brainwashed by Adolf Hitler during the war, so his time as a prisoner of war was an eye-opening experience.

Trautmann proved to be an excellent goalkeeper for his prisoner of war team, which ultimately resulted in him being signed by St. Helens Town. After 43 appearances there, Trautmann was brought in by Manchester City, and he eventually developed into one of the very best at his position.

Trautmann's signing was met with a great deal of protest, according to Taylor, as 20,000 people demonstrated against him. Dr. Alexander Altmann, a communal rabbi, asked the people to give Trautmann a chance, though, and they came to understand Trautmann's situation.

Thanks to Altmann, after a month it was all forgotten, says Trautmann. Later, I went into the Jewish community and tried to explain things. I tried to give them an understanding of the situation for people in Germany in the 1930s and their bad circumstances. I asked if they had been in the same position, under a dictatorship, how they would have reacted? By talking like that, people began to understand.

By the time Trautmann played his last match for the Citizens in 1964, he was viewed as a hero. That largely stemmed from his performance in the 1956 FA Cup Final against Birmingham City. Trautmann played the final 17 minutes of that match with a broken neck, and he will forever live in Manchester City lore because of the bravery he showed.

Because of that game as well as the excellence he displayed throughout his career, Trautmann was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2005. The soccer world has lost an all-time great, but his contributions to the sport will always be remembered.


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