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Germany legend Trautmann honoured before England game

SoccerNews in Bundesliga, English Premier League 19 Nov 2008

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Legendary German goalkeeper and World War II veteran Bert Trautmann has been honoured in a special ceremony here just hours before the Germany-England friendly at Berlin's Olympic Stadium on Wednesday.

The ex-Manchester City goalkeeper, who famously helped the club win the 1956 FA Cup final despite suffering a broken neck, was presented with a special honour by the German Football Federation (DFB) at a luncheon here.

“Bert Trautmann, who became a legend of English football in the 1950s, was and is, as both a sportsman and a person, a great ambassador for Germany,” said DFB president Theo Zwanziger on Wednesday at the lunch in the capital.

“He has connected our lands (Germany and England) in many ways. We thank him both for his life work to football and his work promoting better understanding between nations. This is an honour which goes out right across football.”

As well as the luncheon in his honour, Trautmann who turned 85 last month, was a guest-of-honour, along with Geoff Hurst who scored a hat-trick for England in the 1966 World Cup final, at the Olympic Stadium for the friendly.

Although his real name is Bernd, Trautmann is widely known by his nickname Bert which he picked up while playing football in England.

Born in Bremen in 1923, Trautmann joined the Luftwaffe early in World War II, served as a paratrooper and fought on the Eastern Front for three years where he earned five medals including an Iron Cross.

Later in the war, he was transferred to the Western Front in France, where he was captured by the British as the war drew to a close.

One of only 90 of his original 1,000-strong regiment to survive the war, he was sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in Lancashire, but refused an offer of repatriation.

Following his release in 1948 he settled in the northern English county, combining farm work with playing as goalkeeper for a local football team.

Several notable displays attracted the attention of City, but 20,000 of their fans attended a demonstration against the decision to sign the former paratrooper.

But he won over City's fans playing all but five of the club's next 250 matches and in total made 545 appearances between 1949 and 1964.

He is most famous for the 1956 FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium when 15 minutes before the final whistle he suffered a serious injury after diving at the feet of Birmingham City's Peter Murphy.

He continued to play, making crucial saves to preserve his team's 3-1 lead, but his neck was noticeably crooked as he collected his winners' medal and three days later an x-ray revealed it had been broken.

After his playing career, he spent nearly 20 years as a manager and in 2004 he was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for promoting Anglo-German understanding through football.

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