Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Nine Germans have made it on to the pitch in the sky blue shirts of City down the years, the most famous and most popular of which were clearly custodian Bert Trautmann, one of the greatest figures to play for the Blues, and 90s cult striker Uwe Rosler.

Trautmann came to City in November 1949, having participated in the war, fighting at first on the Eastern front and later on the Western front, where he came into closer contact with the allies than he had wanted. Captured first by the Americans, from whom he managed to escape, then by the British as the war drew to its bloody and inevitable close, Trautmann was held with hundreds of others in the prisoner of war camp in Ashton in Makerfield. Refusing repatriation, he decided to settle in Lancashire, playing first for St Helens Town, then moving to City where- after a difficult start - he became a huge crowd favourite. At that time City had a significant Jewish support and the arrival of a German paratrooper caused an understandable furor.

The players at Maine Road, who included in captain Eric Westwood a Normandy veteran, did their best to make him feel at home, however, and Trautmann succeeded in winning over doubters with weekly displays of courage and tenacity. He kept goal in the difficult early 50s when City were not making much headway, but was quickly recognised as a worthy successor to the great Frank Swift in maintaining City's reputation for iconic goalkeepers. He was the first German to play in the Cup final, in 1955, but a year later he would return to Wembley a winner, although ti was in terrible personal circumstances, breaking his neck in a challenge from Birmingham's Jimmy Murphy.

The bravery to continue through to the end cemented his place in City folklore, a comic book hero emerging from the gruesome antipathy of World War Two.

Decades later, City signed a total of five German players between 1993 and 1995, a trend started by Brian Horton and continued by his successor Alan Ball. Midfielder Steffen Karl and striker Uwe Rosler arrived as as part of a pack of players bought in a panic by Horton as relegation loomed at the end of 93-94 season. Karl had been a substitute in the first leg of the UEFA Cup final the previous autumn between Borussia Dortmund and Juventus and had played the entire second leg in Turin, as Dortmund lost 6-1 on aggregate, and came to City with a high reputation. He signed on the same day as striker Paul Walsh arrived from Portsmouth, Friday March 11th 1994. A week earlier fellow German Rosler had been signed from East Germans Dynamo Dresden.

City were a single place above the bottom three of Oldham, Sheffield United and Swindon and in need of a real shot in the arm. The two Germans delivered the much needed boost immediately, Rosler netting at Ipswich in a 2-2 draw and again in the morale-boosting 3-0 win over Aston Villa. Karl stepped up next with a daisy cutter of a winner at the Dell in City's following game, after entering the pitch as a substitute with twenty minutes left of a fraught relegation cliff hanger. Rosler would score three more in home draws with Norwich and Chelsea and a rousing draw at Hillsborough, where the big City following chanted his name all afternoon, as the Blues finally struggled to safety.

v. Fulham Jan 1950
Trautmann, Phillips, Westwood, Gill, Fagan, Walsh, Munro, Black, Turnbull, Allison, Oakes  

v Newcastle Apr 1994
Dibble, Hill, Vonk, Curle, Brightwell, Karl, McMahon, Rocastle, Beagrie, Rosler, Walsh

Although Rosler was sent off in the opening game of the following season, a dreadful 3-0 reverse at Highbury, he revealed admirable spirit in scoring three in the next two games, 3-0 and 4-0 home wins over West Ham and Everton respectively, to kick start a season full of goals in a City forward line that now included Niall Quinn, Paul Walsh, Peter Beagrie, Nicky Summerbee and Rosler.

This was the season Jurgen Klinsmann uprooted trees for Tottenham and City's own German striker hardly flew in under the radar either, with a hatful of goals, including four against Notts County in the FA Cup. The other goal that night was scored by Maurizio Gaudino, City's fifth German acquisition. He had joined at Christmas, after his club Eintracht Frankfurt had wanted rid of him, as a ten year prison sentence for being part of a car theft ring was hanging over the gifted midfielder.

Gaudino did not play as if being chased by the Polizei and provided a languid and silky touch to a City side increasingly dominated by the club foot and hoof brigade represented by Steve Lomas, David Brightwell and Alan Kernaghan. Two games summed up his class as City's season again degenerated into a relegation scrap. Scoring with a beautiful low shot at Goodison Park and a thumping header at home to Liverpool contributed to the points that kept City heads above water.

Goalkeeper Eike Immel and left-back Michael Frontzeck came to Maine Road in 1995, joining Rosler just in time to experience Alan Ball's idiosyncratic method of Premier League management. Although Immel
would prove a busy shot stopper in a season when City's three year flirtation with relegation finally ended with burnt fingers, Frontzeck was scapegoated for some of the team's ills and never really settled, despite staying on for the following, disastrous season in Division Two.

Post-nineties stress over, City were back with the big boys by the turn of the century and fielded ex-Bayern full back Michael Tarnat in Kevin Keegan's attack-minded side. Tarnat will be remembered for standing goggle-eyed by the post after Manchester United's smash and grab Champions League final v Bayern and for a howitzer of a free kick for City against Blackburn at Ewood Park, as Keegan's side hit an early season top spot in the table. He repeated the dose in the sun-drenched home game with Aston Villa, showcasing a left foot that had both power and accuracy.

Ex-Liverpool star Dietmar Hamann enjoyed his last year of professional football with the Blues, signing after a brief week long sojourn at Sam Allardyce's Bolton. Hamann was a steady influence in a poor City side, as Keegan's reign ended and the dour, goalless period under Stuart Pearce began.

City's most recent link with Germany and indeed Bayern Munich comes in the shape of Jerome Boateng, a gangly defender, who was never seen at his best at the Etihad. Used mainly as a right back, Boateng looked ill at ease and even, at times, disinterested after starting his City career with the good omen of injuring his knee on the drinks trolley in the flight to Manchester. The £10m signing had been brought in by Roberto Mancini but failed to straighten his wheels and left for Bayern a year later, where the inevitability of a future as a World Champion national team defender and a European champion Bayern stalwart fits City's historical custard pie-to-face routine to a tee. 

1 comment:

  1. Great inforgraphic we made on tonight's match. check it out: http://www.bettingexpert.com/blog/man-city-bayern-munich-infographic


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