The Walter-weather miracle men in numbers
The skies unleashed Fritz Walter weather. ‘The Miracle of Bern’ drenched the dreams of a Hungary side that had monsooned West Germany 8-3 in the group stage. That made the world go ‘wow’. Now it’s FIFA.com’s turn to try and make you do the same, with a series of spellbinding stats behind Die Mannschaft’s 1954 FIFA World Cup Switzerland™ conquest.
years and ten months was the age at which Toni Turek made his international debut in 1950 – he remained the oldest goalkeeper to make his Germany bow for 63 years until 33-year-old Roman Weidenfeller outranked him. Curiously, Herberger had earmarked Turek for a call-up as far back as 1936, when the 17-year-old had been playing for Duisburg’s youth team on the same Krefeld pitch on which Germany were about to face Luxembourg.
matches unbeaten – during which they broke Scotland’s 22-game international record, set between 1879 and ‘88 – is the Hungary sequence West Germany ended in the Final. ‘The Magical Magyars’ had last lost 5-3 to Austria in Vienna in 1950. Hungary’s run remained a world record until Diego Simeone, Fernando Redondo and Gabriel Batistuta helped Argentina make it 31 games without defeat between the Italy 1990 decider and a 2-1 loss to Colombia in 1993.
players have scored four-plus goals in multiple World Cups, with Helmut Rahn being the first. Der Boss got his fourth goal at Switzerland 1954 with a late winner in the Final. The others were Vava, Pele, Gerd Muller, Teofilo Cubillas, Gary Lineker, Gabriel Batistuta, Ronaldo, Christian Vieri, Miroslav Klose and Thomas Muller.
non-Brazilians is all that came above Fritz Walter in Placar magazine’s ranking of the 100 Greatest Players in World Cup history: (in order) Diego Maradona, Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff, Puskas, Zinedine Zidane, Eusebio, Lothar Matthaus, Gordon Banks, Just Fontaine and Michel Platini. Walter, a former Prisoner of War who was en route to inevitable death in Siberia when a game of football with the Russian army spared his life, finished above the likes of Mario Kempes, Gerd Muller, Giuseppe Meazza, Bobby Charlton and Dino Zoff.
2003 films were awarded the prestigious Golden Canvas award for having over three million people watch them in German cinemas within the first 18 months of their release – and The Miracle of Bern was one of them. The others were The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Finding Nemo, The Matrix Reloaded, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Good Bye, Lenin!, Bruce Almighty, Johnny English and Catch Me If You Can. The actors depicting the West Germany and Hungary players in The Miracle of Bern were all lower-league footballers.
seconds is the astonishing time radio commentator Herbert Zimmermann paused for during his legendary narration of West Germany’s winning goal in the Final. “Rahn shoots! Goal! Goal! Goal! Goal!” he exclaimed, before going silent as he tried to take in the enormity of what had happened. Zimmermann finally regained his composure and bellowed: “Goal for Germany! Germany lead 3-2. Call me mad, call me crazy!” Kicker, La Gazzetta dello Sport and The Guardian ranked it as the most iconic piece of football commentary in history.
teams is all that managed to rally from more than a one-goal deficit and win a World Cup match – and West Germany are the only one to do it in the Final. The others were Switzerland against Germany and Brazil against Sweden in 1938, Austria against Switzerland in 1954, Portugal against Korea DPR in 1966, Peru against Bulgaria and West Germany against England in 1970, and Côte d’Ivoire against Serbia and Montenegro in 2006.
goals: that is the margin by which West Germany battered Austria, whose formidable side comprised Ernst Happel, Gerhard Hanappi, Ernst Ocwirk and Karl Koller, in the semi-finals. They hadn’t beaten their neighbours by more than two goals since the teams first tussled 46 years previous, but had been thumped 6-0 by the Austrians. That 6-1 win remains the biggest-ever Germany win in the fixture.
goals per game is what West Germany scored at the tournament – more than any other World Cup-winning team but, curiously, not even the most at Switzerland 1954. Hungary managed a staggering 5.4 per game. Spain averaged a competition-low 1.1 per game during their triumphant South Africa 2010 campaign.
sets of brothers have scored in the World Cup, with Fritz and Ottmar Walter the first. They were emulated by Rene and Willy van de Kerkhof, Socrates and Rai, and Michael and Brian Laudrup. The Walters are one of two sets of siblings to have won the World Cup, along with Jacky and Bobby Charlton.
teams is all that have conceded more in a World Cup game than West Germany did in an 8-3 defeat to Hungary: Korea Republic against Hungary in 1954 (9-0), Zaire against Yugoslavia in 1974 (9-0), and El Salvador against Hungary in 1982 (10-1). Herberger’s troops leaked 14 goals overall – double what the next-nearest World Cup-winning side did (Brazil conceded seven in 1970).
is what gives Max Morlock, who struck six times in five appearances on Swiss grass, the best goals-per-game ratio of any German in World Cup history. The Nurnberg legend is followed by Gerd Muller (1.08), Helmut Rahn (1.0), Edmund Conen (1.0), Karl Hohmann (1.0), Ottmar Walter (0.8), Thomas Muller (0.77), Miroslav Klose (0.67), Helmut Haller (0.67) and Jurgen Klinsmann (0.65), excluding those who played just one game in the competition.
teams emerged unbeaten from Switzerland 1954 following West Germany’s upset of Hungary in Bern – the only time in World Cup history this has happened. A record high of five finished Germany 2006 undefeated – Switzerland, Argentina, England, France and Italy.
caps is what Paul Mebus won after playing in the 8-3 defeat to Hungary in Group 2. Sepp Herberger was appalled to find his No9 singing in the shower post-match, and never picked him for West Germany again.