Wednesday, March 28, 2012

28 March 1897 - Born To Run (The German National Team)

On 28 March 1897, Josef "Sepp" Herberger was born in Mannheim, Germany. He went on to manage the German national team for almost thirty years, winning a World Cup in the process.

A striker, Herberger's playing career lasted from 1914 to 1930 and included spells with Waldhof Mannheim (1914-21), VfR Mannheim (1921-26), and Tennis Borussia Berlin (1926-30). During that time, he also made three appearances for the German national team.

But he made his greatest mark as a manager, starting with Tennis Borussia in 1930. Two years later, he joined the German national team as an assistant coach, then took the top job in 1936. Renowned as a tactical genius, his first crack at a World Cup ended poorly, as Germany were eliminated in the first round that year by Switzerland. And they were banned from the next tournament, in 1950, due to Germany's role in World War II.

But in 1954, as the manager of the West German team, he finally claimed football's ultimate prize, upsetting tournament favorites Hungary in the final. Hungary, who had beaten the Germans 8-3 in the group stage, took a 2-0 lead after only eight minutes, but Herberger's team rallied to claim a 3-2 victory that has since been dubbed "the Miracle of Bern."

He returned to the tournament as West Germany's manager in 1958, finishing fourth, and again in 1962, when they were eliminated by Yugoslavia in the quarterfinals. He retired in 1964 having won just over 64 percent of his games. He later died in 1977 at the age of 80.

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