Manchester City legend Bert Trautmann dies aged 89

Manchester City's Bert Trautmann breaks neck in 1956 FA Cup final

Bert Trautmann, the German goalkeeper who won the FA Cup with Manchester City in 1956, has died at the age of 89.

Trautmann is best remembered for playing the final 17 minutes of City's Cup final win against Birmingham City with a broken neck.

He played more than 500 times for City between 1949-64, having first arrived in England as a prisoner of war.

Trautmann, who had survived two heart attacks this year, passed away near Valencia in Spain on Friday.

Bob Wilson, the former Arsenal goalkeeper and BBC Sport presenter, paid tribute to Trautmann in an interview with Radio 5 live

"I just adored what he did," said Wilson, 71. "I don't think I could have chosen a greater hero."

Wilson said Trautmann's bravery - "diving headlong at people's feet" - won him over, as did his "thorough decency" and "humanity".

Francis Lee, the former Manchester City player who later became the club's chairman, said: "He was one of the all-time great keepers.

"I knew Bert wasn't keeping well for the last six months but it has still come as a shock that he has passed on.

"I made my debut as a 16-year-old for Bolton against City with Bert in goal and I scored a header after a quarter of an hour. It convinced him, he later told me, that it was time to pack up."

Born in Bremen in 1923, Trautmann fought as a paratrooper in World War II before being captured on the Russian front.

Trautmann escaped captivity and returned to serve in France, but, after escaping from the French resistance, he was captured for a final time by the British Army and interned near Ashton-in-Makerfield, Lancashire.

Bert Trautmann (centre) after the 1956 FA Cup final
Trautmann is helped from the field after the 1956 FA Cup final, unaware he has broken his neck

Remaining in England following the the war in 1945, Trautmann began his English football career with non-league St Helens Town.

He signed for Manchester City in October 1949, but, with memories of the war still fresh, initially faced hostility from some supporters.

However, his bravery in the 1956 FA Cup final saw Trautmann become a hero to many fans after he broke several vertebrae in his neck when he collided with Birmingham's Peter Murphy with City leading 3-1.

The German was unaware how serious the injury was and played the rest of the match, only learning he had broken his neck three days later.

"I don't think he knew he'd broken his neck, not until they had the scans and X-rays," Lee added. "There was no way he was coming off because there were no subs in those days. He was as brave as a lion.

"He was on the Western Front as well the Eastern Front, so he saw a bit of action and a broken neck was not going to put him off."

Trautmann made a full recovery and, following his retirement in 1964, went on to manage Stockport County.

He also helped the German Football Association promote football development in Africa and Asia.

In 2004, he was awarded the OBE for his work with the Trautmann Foundation, which promoted sportsmanship and exchange programmes between young and amateur players in Germany and the UK.


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