Fritz Walter

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Fritz Walter
Fritz Walter cropped.JPG
Fritz Walter (1956)
Surname Friedrich Walter
birthday October 31, 1920
place of birth KaiserslauternGerman Empire
date of death June 17, 2002
Place of death Enkenbach-AlsenbornGermany
position Half-striker
Years station
1928-1938 1. FC Kaiserslautern
Years station Games (goals) 1
1938-1959 1. FC Kaiserslautern 384 (327)
1943 TSG Diedenhofen
1943 TSG Saargemünd
National team
Years selection Games (goals)
1940-1958 Germany 61 0(33)
Stations as a trainer
Years station
1945-1949 1. FC Kaiserslautern (player-coach)
1960 VfL Neustadt / Coburg
1962-19 ?? SV Alsenborn
1 Only league games are given.

Friedrich "Fritz" Walter (born October 31, 1920 in Kaiserslautern , † June 17, 2002 in Enkenbach-Alsenborn ) was a German football player .

Fritz Walter is one of the most outstanding personalities in German football . With him as captain won the national team , the 1954 World Cup . He was also a regular for the German team at the 1958 World Cup .

At the club level, Walter remained loyal to 1. FC Kaiserslautern for over 30 years and won two German championships with him ( 1951 and 1953 ). He was honored many times for his football and social services and was the first player to be named honorary captain of the national team.


Friedrich Walter was born in Kaiserslautern in 1920 as the oldest of five children . He had two sisters, Gisela and Sonja, and two brothers, Ludwig and Ottmar , who both also played for 1. FC Kaiserslautern. He later played in the national team with Ottmar and won the world championship title in 1954 with his brother.

Birthplace of Fritz and Ottmar Walter

As the son of the club host of 1. FC Kaiserslautern, the young Fritz came into contact with football at an early age . He took his first steps on the football field as a seven-year-old in the FCK school team. At first he played in the position of right-back, and the exceptional talent was soon a well-known footballer.


1938 to 1940

After leaving school, he trained as a banker before, at the age of 17, in 1938, when he was in the middle of the FCK , he dedicated himself entirely to football. However, because of his age, he needed a special permit. Walter quickly became the star of the team that in the Gauliga Südwest (from 1941: Gauliga Westmark ) was one of the strongest in the region. In the 1939/40 season he scored 30 goals in 15 games.

1940 to 1945

Like many other footballers, the Second World War robbed Fritz Walter of his prime as an athlete. Although Reich coach Sepp Herberger enforced privileges for his national players (Walter had been a selection player since 1940), Walter was drafted into the Wehrmacht on December 5, 1940 . On May 1, 1941, he was transferred to France , meanwhile an infantryman . On March 15, 1942 he scored thirteen goals in the Gauliga game against FK Pirmasens at 26-0. In the round of 16 of the German championship he failed with 1. FC Kaiserslautern at the eventual champions FC Schalke 04 . During his time as an infantryman in Diedenhofen , Lorraine , he played from April to June 1943 temporarily for TSG Diedenhofen , for the soldier team " Rote Jäger " and in June 1943 briefly for TSG Saargemünd . He was later used in Sardinia , Corsica and Elba . In 1943 Walter was suddenly transferred to the Air Force . The football-loving fighter pilot Hermann Graf commanded a squadron and gradually acquired some of the best footballers. The "Rote Jäger" became one of the best German military teams in World War II. Walter said he hadn't fired a single shot before he was captured.

He was picked up by US troops in Bohemia on May 8, 1945 and handed over to the Red Army along with many others . He was in a camp near Máramarossziget (Romania) near the border with Ukraine in Soviet captivity . Weakened by an attack of malaria , he played football with Hungarian and Slovak guards. They recognized the German national player and introduced him to the Soviet camp commandant Zhukov. Apparently Zhukov saved Walter and his younger brother Ludwig from the Siberian gulag ; the brothers returned to Kaiserslautern on October 28, 1945. Walter later did not describe the 1954 World Cup final as the (soccer) "game of his life", but rather the soccer game with the guards.

1945 to 1959

After his return from captivity, Walter played again for “his” FCK and helped reorganize the club. As a director on the field, he led the Red Devils into the most important phase of their club history. Between 1945 and 1949 he also trained 1. FCK. The club developed into the most successful of the early post-war period. Between 1948 and 1954 he was six times champion of the Oberliga Südwest , in which from 1948 the contract player statute had been introduced for the first time in Germany. 1951 won Walter and his team for the first time the German Championship (2: 1 victory over Prussia Munster ), 1953 was VfB Stuttgart in the final with 4: outclasses first In 1948, 1954 and 1955 Kaiserslautern failed in the final.

Walter was considered the best footballer in Germany and received offers from major European top clubs. In 1951 Atlético Madrid offered 500,000 DM hand money for a two-year contract  , plus a salary, bonuses, car, rent-free living - enormous sums and privileges at the time. "Dehäm is dehäm" he said succinctly about his decision to stay in the Palatinate. The down-to-earth Walter also turned down offers from Inter Milan , FC Nancy and Racing Paris . Later he wrote in a column about this: “'Darling, what are you doing?' I asked my wife Italia. 'You don't even need to ask me' she replied, 'up there your Betzenberg, the boss, your FCK, the national team ……' ". Herberger had convinced the adidas founder Adi Dassler to offer him a representative position in the company. With the FCK, he was three more times league champions from 1955 to 57. One spoke respectfully of the Walter Elf .

Fritz Walter in 1956 during an interview on the occasion of the game against Bismut Karl-Marx-Stadt

In a friendly game with FCK he scored his legendary hacking goal from Leipzig in 1956 in the game against SC Wismut Karl-Marx-Stadt . It is described as one of the best goals of all time: Walter dropped forward and then shot the ball over his own head into the right corner with his right heel. The GDR sports reporter Wolfgang Hempel called it the "goal of the century".

During his time at 1. FC Kaiserslautern, Walter scored 327 goals in 384 games. This rate is unusual because he was not a striker but a midfielder in half position. His shirt number was 8. On June 20, 1959, he put on the FCK's red jersey for the last time and ended his career at the age of 38.

National player (1940 to 1958)

Walter quickly moved into the field of vision of Reich trainer Sepp Herberger , who appointed him to the greater German national team in 1940 . On July 14, 1940, 19-year-old Walter played his first international match and scored three goals in a 9-3 win over Romania . A few weeks later, a 13-0 win against Finland followed , and he was able to prove himself with two goals. More than his scoring qualities, however, the experts admired his playful and tactical abilities with which he directed the attacks of his team. By constantly changing positions - including in defense - he embodied a completely new type of striker and was celebrated as a future superstar. But the Second World War interrupted Walter's international career; For eight years (from 1942 to 1951) he did not play an international match for Germany.

Since the DFB was not allowed to play international matches for five years after the end of National Socialism, Walter played for the Palatinate team . This team, in which there were seven other Kaiserslautern players next to him, certified national coach Herberger "international match format", and from 1951 these players should then form the framework of the national team. Sepp Herberger presented Fritz Walter with the captain's armband, which Walter wore for the first time on April 15, 1951 in the 3-2 victory over Switzerland . He became the extended arm of the national coach on the field, and both had an intimate father-son relationship. Three years later, Walter led the national team as captain for the 1954 World Cup . With Fritz Walter, his brother Ottmar, Werner Kohlmeyer , Horst Eckel and Werner Liebrich , the FCK provided the core of the squad trained and set up by Herberger for the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland . The father-son relationship between Herberger and his captain turned out to be a stroke of luck for German football : Walter, as the head and idea generator of the team, implemented the tactical instructions of the coach perfectly on the pitch. After two sovereign victories in the preliminary round against Turkey (4: 1 and 7: 2) and the "tactical" defeat with a reserve team against the favorite Hungary (3: 8), an outstanding Walter led his teammates over the quarter-finals against Yugoslavia (2-0) to the semi-finals. There the neighboring country Austria was outclassed 6: 1, with Walter underpinning his status with two goals from the penalty spot and a world class performance. In the final against Hungary on July 4, 1954, the team in Bern's Wankdorf Stadium was 8 minutes behind 2-0, but equalized before the break (Walter prepared the 2-2 with a perfect corner ). The 3: 2 by Helmut Rahn six minutes before the end of the game turned the outsider into world champion and the players into national heroes: “We're someone again”, was the tenor in Germany nine years after the end of the war. The team is still known today as the Walter Elf . Thanks to this tournament, Fritz Walter joined the ranks of exceptional players such as Ferenc Puskás , Sándor Kocsis and Juan Schiaffino .

After the world title, Fritz Walter struggled with injuries. From 1956 to 1958 he played only four international matches and actually wanted to end his career in the national team. But mentor Herberger persuaded his favorite player to participate again in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden . Walter's comeback was controversial because the 37-year-old was no longer trusted to play such a dominant role as when he won the title. But Walter was again one of the strongest players in Germany, even if he was no longer captain, and led the team to group victory and finally to the semi-finals against Sweden . There Germany lost 3-1, Fritz Walter had to retire injured after a hard foul by Parling in the 75th minute. The semi-finals on June 24, 1958 should be his last international match, because in the game for third place against France he could no longer play. After the World Cup, he announced his retirement from international football.

Fritz Walter with Franz Beckenbauer (right) and Helmut Schön (left), Malente (1965)

Fritz Walter is one of the four players who have played in the national team for more than 15 years. (He was only surpassed by Lothar Matthäus .) With 33 goals in 61 international matches (30 of which as captain), Walter was the national team's record scorer until June 23, 1966, when he was replaced by Uwe Seeler . He is currently the national team's tenth best goalscorer.

Before the 1962 World Cup in Chile  - Walter was 42 years old and had already ended his career in 1959 - Herberger tried again to persuade his captain. "Fritz, you can't let me down," the national coach allegedly pleaded, but Walter refused.

Style of play

Fritz Walter was a brilliant playmaker , extremely sensitive, endowed with charisma and authority, as well as with the ability to “read” a game. His radius of action extended from his own penalty area to in front of the opponent's goal. He helped out in his own defense and was also dangerous for goals, a gifted technician and a great strategist. He always knew an answer to the tactical finesse of the opponent. That is why Herberger wanted to make his pupil his successor. Walter was supposed to be a national coach. But he never dared to step into the coaching business. Fritz Walter was considered very honest and admitted: “For years I was so excited before every game that I felt sick. I often sat in the toilet until shortly before kick-off. ”“ With him, ”Herberger once said,“ I was more of a psychologist than a coach. ”After bad games, Walter was not available to anyone for days.

The Fritz-Walter-Wetter is named after him. This means rainy weather that he preferred to play with. He contracted malaria during World War II , so it was difficult for him to play in the heat. In addition, he played his technique on heavy, wet ground (also during the final of the 1954 World Cup, when it rained continuously). "Fritz, your weather." - "Boss, I don't mind." (Fritz Walter before the Herberger final)

Career outside of football

The trained banker was a representative at adidas , commented on football for radio stations, represented the Sepp Herberger Foundation , which looks after prisoners among other things, and thus became the only one of the 54 world champions who was able to market his fame, even though the DFB only paid 2,350 marks World Cup bonus. The bungalow with swimming pool on an area of ​​5,000 m² in Alsenborn was an outward sign of its prosperity .

Statue of Fritz Walter in front of the Fritz Walter Stadium

For the historian Joachim Fest there were three founding fathers of the Federal Republic of Germany : politically it was Konrad Adenauer , economically it was Ludwig Erhard and mentally Fritz Walter. In fact, July 4, 1954, the day of the final in Bern, was the founding date of the Federal Republic.

Since October 1948 Fritz Walter was married to Italia Bortoluzzi (* December 6, 1921, † December 14, 2001) (Sepp Herberger was best man ). After the end of his career as a football player, Walter initially worked as an advertising vehicle and consultant at SV Alsenborn , owner of the Fritz Walter cinema ( Universum ) and a laundry; he wrote sports books and was committed to the Sepp Herberger Foundation. The soccer player got involved with the Augsburg charity soccer team Datschiburger Kickers , which collects donations for charitable causes. For many years until his death, Fritz Walter was the patron of the Schlappekicker campaign of the Frankfurter Rundschau , which among other things supports athletes in need. Walter was the godfather and first name giver of Fritz Keller , who became the 13th President of the German Football Association on September 27, 2019 .

In the last years of his life, Fritz Walter hardly ever went to the stadium named after him on the Betzenberg in Kaiserslautern: Watching a football game was simply too exciting for the nervous and highly sensitive Walter. During international matches of the German national team, his wife Italia allegedly sat in front of the TV and reported goals, fouls and other events in the bedroom, where Fritz Walter had withdrawn.


Fritz Walter died in Alsenborn in 2002 , less than a year after the death of his long-time wife Italia. In the quarter-final of the 2002 World Cup against the United States' national soccer team , the German players played in his honor with black ribbon . He could no longer see “his” soccer World Cup in Kaiserslautern. Walter allegedly once said that he would be satisfied with the course of his life if he could still see the 2006 World Cup in Kaiserslautern. Walter was buried in the main cemetery in Kaiserslautern in an honorary grave. Thousands of football fans paid their last respects to him.


Entrance to the Fritz Walter House in
Alsenborn, built in 2006

Although he was no longer able to experience the World Cup himself, he probably played a major role in the fact that Kaiserslautern - even before Bremen  - was named the 2006 World Cup city . He actively participated (as the official World Cup ambassador) in the 5 World Champions campaign for Kaiserslautern (with Horst Eckel , Ottmar Walter , the then FCK coach Andreas Brehme and the then player Youri Djorkaeff ). On the other hand, the "Fritz Walter Bonus" was often invoked.

The Fritz Walter Foundation bears his name. Walter was the only soccer world champion to whom a monument was erected during his lifetime: In 1985 the Betzenberg stadium was renamed the Fritz Walter Stadium .

The German Football Association has been awarding the Young Player of the Year the Fritz Walter Medal in gold, silver and bronze since 2005 . This award is intended to honor special achievements in each of the three age groups U-17, U-18, and U-19. With the naming, the DFB would like to remember the honorary captain of the German national team, who died in 2002 and who, as Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder said on the occasion of the award ceremony in 2005, has been a role model in both sport and human terms since winning the 1954 World Cup .

The band Sportfreunde Stiller honored Fritz Walter on their soccer CD You have to win duel on the occasion of the 2006 World Cup with their song Dem Fritz his weather. A punk band called itself Walter Elf in memory of the legendary world championship eleven from 1954 .




  • 3: 2 - The game is over! Germany is world champion! Copress-Verlag, Munich 1954.
  • Games I will never forget . Copress-Verlag, Munich 1955.
  • That's how it was - the World Cup in Sweden. Copress-Verlag, Munich 1958.
  • 11 Rote Jäger - national players in the war. Copress-Verlag, Munich 1959.
  • The games in Chile. Copress-Verlag, Munich 1962.
  • The boss - Sepp Herberger. Copress-Verlag, Munich 1964.
  • As I saw them - The World Cup games in England. Copress-Verlag, Munich 1966.
  • That's how I did it - My soccer school (=  Moewig Sportbuch . Band 1 ). Moewig, Munich 1968.


Web links

Commons : Fritz Walter  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
  • SWR commemorates Fritz Walter (TV series of 100 parts - 100-day countdown to the 100th birthday), broadcast: daily from July 24, 2020


About Fritz Walter

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Matthias Arnhold: Fritz Walter - Matches and Goals in Oberliga. In: Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. January 14, 2016, accessed January 21, 2016 .
  2. Udo Muras: DFB-Wochenschau: 13 goals from young Fritz. ( Memento from November 19, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) In: , March 14, 2012.
  3. a b / Alex Raack June 21, 2018: "You also football player?"
  4. ^ Karel Stokkermans: Fritz Walter - Goals in International Matches. In: Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. January 14, 2016, accessed January 21, 2016 .
  5. Photos: Fritz Walter's grave. In: .
  6. dpa : Fritz Walter Medal for young players. ( Memento from December 7, 2005 in the Internet Archive ) In: , September 30, 2005.
  7. List of FIFA Order of Merit recipients. ( Memento from September 5, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) In: FIFA , (PDF; 154 kB), accessed on January 15, 2018.
  8. The ICE 4 names have been determined. ( Memento from October 28, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) In: DB Inside Bahn , October 27, 2017.
  9. Eleven football legends and a coach icon ( Memento from November 23, 2018 in the Internet Archive )
  10. SWR reminds of Fritz Walter. July 22, 2020, accessed July 22, 2020 .