Jupp Derwall: The end of an era of cynical soccer

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Germany’s success at the last World Cup was not only measured by its unexpected entry into the semi-finals but the way the Mannschaft played the game. Attacking soccer touched by flashes of creativity. The Germans out samba-ed the Samba Boys. In doing so, the perception of German soccer as a mechanistic, soul less entity, ultimately relying on Teutonic strength and efficiency was revisited.
Jupp Derwall the manager of the German national team from 1978 to 1984 continued the tradition put into place by his predecessor, Helmut Schon under whose tutelage he saw first, duty as a long time assistant, and finally after Schon’s retirement, the control of the German team. Derwall’s considerable achievements were overshadowed perhaps unfairly as Brian Glanville points out by the part he played in the events in the 1982 World Cup which saw both W. Germany and Austria qualify at the cost of Algeria. The Algerians had in a stunner upset W. Germany, 2-1, the 1980 Euro Cup champions. The final group encounter pitted the Germans against the Austrians, a win for Germany would ensure that both countries would go to the next round.
The Germans scored after 10 minutes through Horst Hrubesch and then proceeded in one of the most cynical displays of sporting conduct at a world level, to pass the ball around for the next 80 minutes or so. Incensed fans catcalled and a German fan thoroughly disgusted by the cynicism, burned the national flag. A group of Algerian fans, envisioning their team’s elimination, tried to rush the field, but they were confronted by police officers with dogs. Algeria’s protests to FIFA fell on deaf ears. Derwall justified this shameless exposition as “we wanted to progress, not play football.”
I remember seeing that match in India (the first time the WC was telecast in India) with friends in the wee hours of the morning and growing increasingly disgusted as the match progressed and it became evident what the Germans and the Austrians were up to. It was after the 1982 World Cup that FIFA instituted the last round of matches in the group to be played simultaneously. W.Germany’s cynical start to the World Cup continued as in the semi-finals, they beat France on penalty kicks in a nail biter. The match was marred by one of the most vicious fouls in soccer history as Harald Schumacher, the German goalie felled French defender Patrick Battiston, foot forward, breaking his teeth and rendering him unconscious. The referee astonishingly awarded only a free kick as Battiston lay motionless and was attended to by medical staff before being carted off. Battiston’s World Cup was over.
Again, I remember praying that the Germans would lose as I am sure millions everywhere in the world were doing so. The Germans finally lost to Italy, 3-1 in the finals but the damage done to Derwall and German soccer was immense. He was vilified on his return. It is a shame that these events cast such a pall because as Glanville points out, that German team was one of the finest with stellar players like Rummenigge, Schuster, Allofs, Littbarski, Muller, and Schumacher. The Germans failed in defending their Euro title in 1984 and that was the beginning of the end of Derwall.
German soccer again saw an upswing and its image rehabilitated by Franz Beckenbauer, the manager replacing Derwall, culminating in the 1990 World Cup title. After stints by Berti Vogts and Rudi Voller that saw mixed results, German soccer under Jurgen Klinsmann and now, Joachim Low the trajectory taken by the present German team is refreshingly different. I think Germans everywhere feel good not only at the team’s success but by the way they are playing soccer.
On a footnote, in W.Germany, Derwall was a diminished figure but revived his career as manager for Galtasaray, the Turkish club becoming immensely popular with fans as he led the club to success. He modernized training in Turkey preferring to play on grass fields rather than the traditional hard earthen pitches.
Josef “Jupp” Derwall, footballer and manager, born March 10 1927; died June 26 2007

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