|Birth Day:||October 22, 1923|
|Death Date:||Jul 19, 2013 (age 89)|
|Birth Place:||Bremen, Germany|
As per our current Database, Bert Trautmann died on Jul 19, 2013 (age 89).
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
He fought during World War II as a paratrooper on both the Eastern and Western Fronts.
Trautmann was born on 22 October 1923 in Walle, a working class area in west Bremen, living with his father, who worked in a fertiliser factory by the docks, and his mother Frieda. He had a brother, Karl-Heinz, three years his junior, with whom he enjoyed a close relationship. The bleak economic climate of the early 1930s forced the Trautmanns to sell their house and move to an apartment block in the working class area of Gröpelingen, where Bernhard lived until 1941.
In August 1933, he joined a new organisation, the Jungvolk, the junior section of the Hitler Youth. The following year, he won several local junior athletics events and was awarded a certificate for athletic excellence signed by Paul von Hindenburg, the President of Germany. At the onset of the Second World War, Trautmann was working as an apprentice motor mechanic.
Trautmann joined the Luftwaffe as a radio operator in 1941. During training, he showed little aptitude for radio work, and transferred to Spandau to become a Fallschirmjäger (paratrooper). He served first in Occupied Poland, though being stationed far behind the front line resulted in boredom for his regiment, which resorted to sports and practical jokes to pass the time. One such practical joke involving a car backfired on Trautmann, resulting in a staff sergeant burning his arms. Trautmann was court-martialled, and received a three-month prison sentence. At the start of his confinement, Trautmann came down with acute appendicitis, and spent the remainder of his sentence in a military hospital.
In October 1941, he rejoined the 35th Infantry Division at Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, where the German advance had halted. Over-winter hit-and-run attacks on Soviet Army supply routes were the unit's main focus and in spring, Trautmann was promoted to Unteroffizier (corporal). Gains were made in 1942, but the Soviet counter-offensive hit Trautmann's unit hard, and by the time it was withdrawn from the Eastern Front, only 300 of the original 1,000 men remained. Trautmann won five medals for his actions on the Eastern Front, including an Iron Cross First Class.
Promoted to Feldwebel (sergeant), Trautmann was part of a unit formed from the remnants of several others that had been decimated in the east, and moved to France to guard against an expected Allied invasion of France. In 1945, he was one of the few survivors of the Allied bombing of Kleve, and decided to head home to Bremen. By this point, German soldiers without valid leave papers were being shot as deserters, so Trautmann sought to avoid troops from either side. However, a few days later, he was captured in a barn by two Allied soldiers. Deciding that Trautmann had no useful intelligence to give them, the soldiers marched him out of the barn with his hands raised. Fearing he was about to be executed, Trautmann fled. After evading his captors, he jumped over a fence, only to land at the feet of a British soldier, who greeted him with the words "Hello Fritz, fancy a cup of tea?" Earlier in the war, he had been captured by the Soviets and later the French, but escaped both times.
In August 1948, he started playing amateur football for the non-league Liverpool County Combination club St Helens Town, through which he met the club secretary's daughter, Margaret Friar, whom he later married. Over the course of the 1948–49 season, Trautmann's goalkeeping reputation steadily grew and a series of large crowds were attributed to his performances, including a record 9,000 attendance in the final of a local cup competition, the Mahon Cup. The success of that season elevated the club into Division Two of the Lancashire Combination League for the start of 1949–50.
Performances for St Helens gained Trautmann a reputation as an able goalkeeper, resulting in interest from Football League clubs. As the following season commenced, a number of League clubs showed interest in signing him. The first to offer him a contract was Manchester City, a club playing in the highest level of football in the country, the First Division. On 7 October 1949 Trautmann signed for the club as an amateur and turned professional shortly after. Trautmann became the first sportsman in Britain to wear Adidas, thanks to his friendship with Adolf Dassler.
Some Manchester City fans were unhappy about signing a former member of the Luftwaffe. Season ticket holders threatened a boycott, and various groups in Manchester and around the country bombarded the club with protest letters. In addition to this difficulty, Trautmann was replacing the recently retired Frank Swift, one of the greatest keepers in the club's history. Though privately expressing doubts about the signing, the club captain, Eric Westwood, a Normandy veteran, made a public display of welcoming Trautmann by announcing, "There's no war in this dressing room". Trautmann made his first team debut on 19 November against Bolton Wanderers, and after a competent display in his first home match, protests shrank as fans discovered his talent. Before his first home game, Alexander Altmann, the community rabbi of Manchester, had written a remarkable open letter to the Manchester Evening Chronicle appealing to City fans and the Jewish community to treat Trautmann with respect. He continued to receive abuse from crowds at away matches, which affected his concentration in some early games; in December 1949, he conceded seven goals at Derby County.
City's match against Fulham in January 1950 was Trautmann's first visit to London. The match received widespread media attention, as most of the British press were based there; several leading sportswriters watched Trautmann in action for the first time. The damage caused to the city by the Luftwaffe meant former paratrooper Trautmann was a target of hatred for the crowd, who yelled "Kraut" and "Nazi". City were struggling in the league, and widely expected to suffer a heavy defeat but a string of saves from Trautmann meant the final score was a narrow 1–0 loss. At the final whistle, Trautmann received a standing ovation, and was applauded off the pitch by both sets of players. The Manchester City team struggled throughout the season, and was relegated to the Second Division.
Trautmann married a St Helens woman, Margaret Friar, in 1950, but they divorced in 1972. The couple had three children, John, Mark and Stephen. John, his firstborn son, was killed in a car accident a few months after the FA Cup Final in 1956, aged five. According to Trautmann, his wife's struggle to come to terms with the loss ultimately resulted in the breakup of their marriage. He also had a daughter from a previous relationship, from whom he was estranged for many years. He reunited with his daughter in 1990, and with her mother, Marion Greenhall, in 2001. He married Ursula von der Heyde, a German national, while living in Burma in the 1970s, but divorced in 1982. From 1990, Trautmann lived with his third wife Marlis in a small bungalow on the Spanish coast near Valencia. He later helped found the Trautmann Foundation, which continues his legacy by fostering courage and sportsmanship.
Using the Revie Plan, Manchester City reached the 1955 FA Cup Final, in which Trautmann became the first German to play in an FA Cup final. City faced Newcastle United, winners of the cup in 1951 and 1952. Nerves affected the City players, and they went behind to a Jackie Milburn goal after only 45 seconds. Further problems were caused by the loss of Jimmy Meadows to injury after 18 minutes, leaving City with 10 men, a disadvantage that meant Trautmann's ability to start attacks from throws was limited. Though Bobby Johnstone equalised in the first half, they struggled in the second, and after 57 minutes Trautmann was outwitted by Bobby Mitchell, who scored Newcastle's second goal. The match finished as a 3–1 defeat for City, giving Trautmann a runners-up medal.
Though recognised as one of the leading goalkeepers of his era, Trautmann never played for his native country. Trautmann met with the German national coach, Sepp Herberger, in 1953, who explained that travel and political implications prevented him from selecting a player who was not readily available, and that he could only consider including Trautmann if he were playing in a German league. Consequently, Trautmann's international isolation prevented him from playing in the 1954 World Cup, in which his countrymen were victorious. Trautmann's only experience of international football came in 1960, when the Football League decided to include non-English players in the Football League representative team for the first time. Trautmann captained the League against the Irish League, and also played against the Italian League.
Trautmann excelled at shot-stopping, particularly penalties, saving 60% of those he faced over the course of his career. The Manchester United manager Matt Busby mentioned Trautmann's anticipation in his pre-match team talks: "Don't stop to think where you're going to hit it with Trautmann. Hit it first and think afterwards. If you look up and work it out he will read your thoughts and stop it." Similar sentiments were expressed by the Manchester City forward Neil Young, who recalled that "the only way to beat him with a shot in training was to mis-hit it". As a former handball player, Trautmann was adept at throwing the ball long distances, an attribute he used to start attacking moves, particularly after witnessing the Hungarian goalkeeper Gyula Grosics use such tactics to good effect in Hungary's 6–3 victory over England in 1953.
Media outlets have since recognised Trautmann's reputation. ESPN consider Trautmann as one of the greatest FA Cup goalkeepers, with Trautmann representing Manchester City in two consecutive FA Cup finals in 1955 and 1956 while his lunge at Peter Murphy's feet to grasp the ball in the 1956 FA Cup Final is rated as the greatest FA Cup save – a save that broke Trautmann's neck.
Trautmann's autobiography Steppes to Wembley was published in 1956.
On 15 April 1964, he ended his career with a testimonial in front of a crowd officially numbered at 47,000, though the true figure was estimated to be closer to 60,000. Trautmann captained a combined Manchester City and Manchester United XI that included Bobby Charlton and Denis Law, against an International XI that included Tom Finney, Stanley Matthews, Ronnie Clayton and Jimmy Armfield.
After leaving City, Trautmann played, for a month, for Wellington Town, who offered him £50 per match, signing in September 1964 to replace an injured regular keeper. Age had diminished his abilities, but his debut at Hereford United showed he still had the ability to draw crowds. However, he was sent off at Tonbridge for violent conduct in his second match, and never played again. For Wellington, he had saved two matches and been on the losing side in five.
After a couple of months pondering his future career plans, Trautmann received a telephone call from the Stockport County chairman, Victor Bernard, who offered him the position of general manager. Stockport was a struggling lower league club with a small budget, and Trautmann's appointment was an attempt to improve its image. Many people in the local area supported one of the two Manchester clubs, so to stimulate interest Trautmann and Bernard decided to move matches to Friday evenings, when neither Manchester club would be playing. This improved revenue, but the team continued to struggle. Trautmann resigned in 1966 following a disagreement with Bernard. From 1967 to 1968, he was the manager of the German team Preußen Münster, taking them to a 13th-place finish in the Regionalliga West, following which he had a short spell at Opel Rüsselsheim.
The German Football Association then sent Trautmann as a development worker to countries without national football structures. His first posting was in Myanmar (Burma), where he spent two years as the national coach, qualifying for the Olympics in 1972, and winning the President's Cup, a tournament contested by south-east Asian countries, later that year. His work subsequently took him to managing Tanzania, Liberia, Pakistan and North Yemen, until 1988, when he retired and settled in Spain.
In November 1995, Trautmann returned to Maine Road to open the rebuilt Kippax Stand. However, the stand was gone within a decade: in May 2003 the club moved to the City of Manchester Stadium, Maine Road was closed and its stadium demolished the following year.
In 1997, Trautmann received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. He was appointed an honorary OBE in 2004 for his work in Anglo-German relations, and received the award at the British Embassy in Berlin, making him possibly the only person to have won an OBE and an Iron Cross. The following night, at a concert given by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, he met the Queen. "Ah, Herr Trautmann. I remember you", she said. "Have you still got that pain in your neck?"
In 2005, he was inducted into the National Football Museum's Hall of Fame. He continued to follow Manchester City and visited Manchester to watch them play, with his last visit in April 2010. In 1999, he had also appeared in the BBC Timewatch programme episode "The Germans We Kept", recounting the experiences of German prisoners of war who decided to remain in the UK.
Trautmann died at home in Spain on 19 July 2013 at the age of 89. He had suffered two heart attacks earlier in the year. The president of the German Football Association, Wolfgang Niersbach, said that Trautmann was "an amazing sportsman and a true gentleman ... a legend". Bob Wilson, a former Arsenal goalkeeper, tweeted, "Amazing man who helped bring our warring countries closer together". Joe Corrigan, a former Manchester City goalkeeper, said Trautmann was "a fantastic man and was one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time".
He was portrayed by German actor David Kross in the 2018 biopic The Keeper.
Currently, Bert Trautmann is 98 years, 3 months and 0 days old. Bert Trautmann will celebrate 99th birthday on a Saturday 22nd of October 2022.
Find out about Bert Trautmann birthday activities in timeline view here.