A True German Hero

Germany’s relationship with England has been strained over the last hundred years or so, to say the least. There have, though, been a couple of people that have helped to bridge the gap between these two nations, and none have stuck in the mind for quite as long as Bert Trautmann. Born in 1923, Trautmann’s early life was as unremarkable as possible for somebody growing up in Nazi Germany. He was enlisted into the German Air Force at 17, and lasted nearly five years before being captured on the outskirts of Berlin. Jumping over a fence to escape American soldiers, he landed at the feet of two British soldiers. “Hello Fritz – fancy a cup of tea?”, was the first thing they said to him. Considering the house-to-house fighting that was going on in Berlin at the time, it was quite possibly something of a relief to be shipped off to Ashton, near Manchester, as a POW. His talents were first spotted when playing at the POW camp (initially as a midfielder, he moved in goal because there was a shortage of goalkeepers in the camp) and, having fallen in love with a girl from Manchester, he settled in Manchester after the war, and went into non-league football playing for St Helens, before joining Manchester City in 1949. The response was as predictable as it was depressing. City were...

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