Germany defeated England at Wembley in 1972

ONEIn the conversation in the locker room, Günter Netzer still remembers it “as it was yesterday”. He told Franz Beckenbauer: “If we get fewer than five, it would be a great result for us.” The captain mumbled only resignedly: “Yes, min.” Their clubs “had huge problems against English teams,” he recalled 77-year-old Netzer. “Besides, Wolfgang Overath was injured. Otherwise I would not have played at all.”

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But then the sympathetic strategists from Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayern Munich staged a “swing rhythm” that national coach Helmut Schön excited, leading to the first victory for a German national team in the motherland of football at Wembley Stadium. Germany won 3-1 in London with goals from Uli Hoeneß (26 ‘), Netzer (85’ / penalty) and Gerd Müller (88 ‘), after Francis Lee equalized to 1-1 (77’). The date of the historic triumph: fifty years ago, April 29, 1972.

After this first match in the European Championship quarter-finals (second match 0-0 in Berlin), there has never been a national team with greater confidence, claims the long-time ARD expert Netzer. “We went to the final in Belgium with absolute certainty that nothing could happen to us.”

Confirmation in June: 2-1 in the semi-final in Antwerp against the hosts, 3-0 in the final in Brussels against the Soviet Union. The national coach waived specifications for his two main characters at a team meeting. “Schön developed the sharp instinct to give us all the freedom we need,” Netzer says. “When he drew his tactics on the board, he suddenly turned around and said, ‘Oh, it’s all superfluous – just do what you want.’

The confusing interaction between Beckenbauer and Netzer was unique. The Englishmen with the world champion trio from West Ham United, Bobby Moore, Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst, were surprised. If Netzer fell back and pulled his English special guard with him, Beckenbauer had room for his offensive virtuosity up front. “I supported Günter,” recalls the 76-year-old Beckenbauer. “Because in midfield you could not create dominance alone against the strong Englishman.” As soon as the libero had taken his position again, Netzer started his uplifting solo races.

The best national team in history?

Karl Heinz Bohrer, former head of the art section and then London correspondent for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung *, wrote enthusiastically: “Netzer, who suddenly pushed from the depths of the room, had ‘enthusiasm’. ‘Thrill’ is the event, the unexpected maneuver, the transformation of geometry into energy, the insane explosion of happiness in the penalty area, ‘thrill’ is the ultimate execution, the beginning and the end. “Thrill” is Wembley. “Bohrer” translated his “long runs from back to front” into this amazing language, “says Netzer. Including the 1966 World Cup final (2-4 after extra time), Germany had not won any of Their twelve internationals against England since 1908.

However, revenge for the final defeat with the controversial “Wembley goal” had already been achieved in the quarterfinals of the 1970 World Cup in Mexico with a 3-2 victory after extra time. The excellent European champion in 1972 – with Maier, Höttges, Breitner, Schwarzenbeck, Beckenbauer, Wimmer, Heynckes, Hoeneß, Müller, Netzer, Erwin Kremers in the final (Grabowski and Held played instead of Heynckes and Erwin Kremers in the 3-1 victory at Wembley) – also became world champion in 1974 in his own country. Of course not nearly as lively and so confident.

“The team played completely differently,” Netzer describes the style change. “I was no longer on the pitch, although I must admit that Wolfgang Overath was the better national player in my position.” Nevertheless: For some historians and any nostalgic, 1972 played thanks to “Ramba-Zamba” (a neologism of “Bild”) -Zeitung) by Franz Beckenbauer and Günter Netzer was probably the strongest German national team in its history.

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