Wednesday, October 31, 2012
31 October 1920 - Germany's Golden Player
Gifted with a remarkable combination of ball control, vision, and agility, Walter, who was born in Kaiserslautern, spent his entire career with his hometown club. He made his first-team debut for them at the age of 17, but World War II interrupted his career for several years. Play resumed in 1945 and Walter soon guided the team to their first major silverware, winning league titles in 1951 and 1953. He retired in 1959 with a record of 380 goals in 411 league appearances. In 1985, the club renamed their stadium after him.
His greatest achievement, however, came with the West German national team in 1954, when he captained them to their first World Cup trophy, beating Hungary 3-2 in a final known as "the Miracle of Bern" (Hungary were up 0-2 after only 8 minutes before West Germany rallied for the win).
Despite the wartime hiatus, Walter earned 61 caps between 1940 and 1958, scoring 33 goals. When UEFA, in preparation for their fiftieth anniversary in 2004, asked each member nation to name their one greatest player--the Golden Players--of the previous fifty years, Germany selected Walter.
He passed away in June 2002 at the age of 81.