Tuesday, 28 May 2024

The Extraordinary Life of Bert Trautmann: From Paratrooper to Football Legend

Bert Trautmann biography
Credit: Daily Express

In this Bert Trautmann biography, we will delve into the captivating journey of a man who defied all odds to become a revered and admired footballer of his generation. From a Nazi paratrooper to a hero of English football, Trautmann’s story is nothing short of extraordinary.

Bert Trautmann’s General Information

Born on October 22, 1923, in Bremen, Germany, Bert Trautmann, whose real name is Bernhard Carl “Bert” Trautmann, had an indomitable spirit. Despite his Nazi affiliations, he managed to bridge the divide between two warring nations and left an indelible mark on the beautiful game.

Physical Stats:

  • Weight: 76 Kilograms
  • Height: 1.89 m
  • Eye Color: Blue
  • Hair Color: Brown

Date of Birth and Personal Info:

  • Date of Birth: October 22, 1923
  • Birth Place: Bremen, Germany
  • Nationality: German

Football Information:

  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • Jersey Number: 1
  • Professional Debut: 1949

Bert Trautmann biography
Credit: Back to Normandy

Bert Trautmann’s Early Life

Bert Trautmann was born on October 22, 1923, in Bremen, Germany, amidst a tumultuous era of political and social unrest. He witnessed the rise of Nazism and the outbreak of World War Two, which shaped his journey. At the age of nine, Trautmann joined the Hitler Youth and discovered his passion for sports, particularly football. He showcased his talent playing for his local team, Blau und Weiss.

In 1941, Trautmann volunteered for the Luftwaffe, becoming a paratrooper and participating in various campaigns. His bravery earned him five medals, including the prestigious Iron Cross First Class. Despite being captured multiple times, he managed to survive until the war’s end.

In 1945, British troops captured Trautmann and sent him to a prisoner-of-war camp in Ashton-in-Makerfield, Lancashire. It was there that he discovered his love for football and displayed his skills as a goalkeeper for the camp team. Among the locals, he met Margaret Friar, with whom he fell in love. After his release in 1948, Trautmann decided to stay in England, working as a farmer and in bomb disposal while playing amateur football for St Helens Town.

Bert Trautmann’s Football Career

Trautmann’s name will forever be associated with Manchester City, where he played as a goalkeeper from 1949 to 1964. His most remarkable achievement came in the 1956 FA Cup final, where he played with a broken neck. Despite his injury, Trautmann’s heroics between the posts secured a 3-1 victory for his team. He was later awarded the Footballer of the Year accolade.

St Helens Town

Before joining Manchester City, Trautmann kickstarted his football career at St Helens Town, a local team in Lancashire. His outstanding performances for the club caught the attention of numerous Football League clubs, including Liverpool, Everton, and Manchester City.

Manchester City

Bert Trautmann biography
Credit: Manchester City FC

Trautmann signed for Manchester City in October 1949, despite facing protests from fans due to his previous Nazi affiliation. However, he gradually won over the supporters through his exceptional performances, playing in all but five of the club’s next 250 matches.

He became one of the nation’s top goalkeepers, receiving praise from peers and the media alike. In 1956, he became the first foreign player and the first goalkeeper to be named FWA Footballer of the Year. Trautmann’s defining moment came during the 1956 FA Cup final, where he sustained a severe neck injury but continued playing, preserving his team’s lead and receiving a standing ovation at the match’s end.

Trautmann remained a Manchester City player until 1964, accumulating a total of 545 appearances for the club. He introduced innovative techniques such as quick distribution with throws and forceful punching to clear the ball.

The Legend’s Farewell

Trautmann bid farewell to his playing career in 1964 after a remarkable 15-year spell at Manchester City. His testimonial match against an England team at Maine Road drew more than 48,000 fans and concluded with a standing ovation in his honor.

Bert Trautmann’s Managerial Career

Bert Trautmann biography
Credit: The Mirror

After retiring as a player, Trautmann embarked on a managerial career. His first managerial role was at Stockport County, where he led the club to the Fourth Division title in his debut season. He then managed Preußen Münster in the second tier of German football before moving on to Opel Rüsselsheim. However, his greatest contributions were made through football development projects around the world, working for the German Football Association and FIFA.

Trautmann coached national teams in countries such as Burma, Tanzania, Liberia, Pakistan, and North Yemen. He facilitated coaching courses and youth programs, leaving an indelible mark on these nations’ footballing landscapes.

Bert Trautmann’s Playing Style

Bert Trautmann biography
Credit: FAZ

Trautmann’s playing style was revolutionary for his time. He possessed remarkable agility and reflexes, capable of making acrobatic saves that astounded spectators and frustrated opposing strikers. Fearless in his approach, Trautmann fearlessly dived at the feet of oncoming attackers, often risking injury. His training as a paratrooper aided this fearlessness, allowing him to fall without harming himself.

In addition to his shot-stopping abilities, Trautmann excelled in distribution skills. His powerful throws could reach the halfway line, enabling quick counter-attacks. He also pioneered techniques such as forceful punching and rolling the ball out to his full-backs. Trautmann’s control of his area and effective communication with his defenders further solidified his reputation as an exceptional goalkeeper.

His playing style had a profound influence on future generations of goalkeepers. Bob Wilson, the former Arsenal goalkeeper, considered Trautmann his childhood hero, while Gordon Banks attributed Trautmann as an influential figure in shaping his own style. The young Lev Yashin, widely regarded as the greatest goalkeeper of all time, also admired and learned from Trautmann’s performances.

Bert Trautmann’s Honors and Achievements

Bert Trautmann biography
Credit: Manchester Evening News

Trautmann’s most renowned achievement was playing with a broken neck during the 1956 FA Cup final, a testament to his bravery and dedication. He made crucial saves that ensured victory for his team, unaware of the severity of his injury until three days later.

His exceptional contributions to football and his efforts in fostering reconciliation between Germany and England earned him numerous accolades. In 1956, he became the first German to win the prestigious FWA Footballer of the Year award. Trautmann also received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2004 and was made an honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2009. In 2010, Queen Elizabeth II bestowed upon him the British Hero Award.

Bert Trautmann’s Personal Life

Bert Trautmann biography
Credit: Daily Mail

Trautmann’s personal life was marked by both triumph and tragedy. Growing up during the Nazi regime, he joined the Hitler Youth as a young boy. After being captured by British troops in 1945, Trautmann was sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in Lancashire.

Following his release in 1948, Trautmann married Margaret Friar, a local woman, and they had three children together. However, their marriage was plagued by tragedy when their firstborn son, John, died in a car accident at the age of five, a few months after the legendary FA Cup final. This devastating loss ultimately led to the breakdown of their marriage.

Trautmann remarried twice, first to Ursula von der Heyde, a German journalist, in 1974, and then to Marlis Trautmann in 1986. With Ursula, he had another daughter named Freda. He resided in Spain with Marlis until his passing in 2013.

The End of a Hero

On July 19, 2013, Bert Trautmann passed away at the age of 89 in La Llosa, near Valencia, Spain. The football world mourned the loss of a true legend, especially Manchester City FC, where he had left an indelible legacy. Trautmann’s exceptional goalkeeping skills and unwavering spirit ensured his place as one of the greatest goalkeepers in the history of the sport and an influential figure in English football.

Frequently Asked Questions

Coming soon…


Bert Trautmann’s biography is a testament to the power of resilience and determination. From his humble beginnings in Germany to his extraordinary achievements on the football field, Trautmann defied all odds. His story serves as an inspiration to aspiring footballers and reminds us that greatness can be achieved by overcoming adversity. Bert Trautmann’s legacy as a player, a coach, and a bridge between nations will forever be etched in the annals of football history.

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