Thursday June 20, 2024

Match of the Century scorer Karl-Heinz Schnellinger dies

Published : 22 May 2024, 00:50

  DF News Desk
Germany's Karl-Heinz Schnellinger (R) steers a high cross into the Italian goal guarded by Enrico Albertosi (L), thus ensuring the 1-1 equalizer in the 90th minute of the game in the World Cup semi-final between Germany and Italy in the Aztec Stadium. File Photo: UPI/dpa.

Karl-Heinz Schnellinger, who scored a late West Germany equalizer in the epic 1970 World Cup semi-final against Italy, has died at age 85, his family told dpa on Tuesday.

The family said that Schnellinger died in Monday night in Milan. He leaves behind his wife, three daughters and four grand children.

"Schnellinger, of all people," ARD match commentator Ernst Huberty said after the 1970 moment in Mexico City that made the defender a legend for life.

The Germans had laid siege on the Italian goal after falling behind early but it took them until stoppage time to level when Schnellinger, who played at Italian top side AC Milan at the time, slid in to score from short range.

The late equalizer and the following unforgettable extra time after which the Azzurri triumphed 4-3 put the tussle into the history books as The Match of the Century.

The goal was his only from 47 caps between 1958 and 1971. He played at four World Cups including the 1966 final at Wembley which the Germans lost 4-2 against hosts England.

"The name Karl-Heinz Schnellinger will forever be associated with the match of the century at the 1970 World Cup," German Football Federation president Bernd Neuendorf said in a statement.

"However, his achievements and merits go far beyond this game. Karl-Heinz Schnellinger was a world-class footballer and one of the first professionals to venture abroad."

Schnellinger spent most of his career in Italy, where he went in 1963, one year after winning the German championship with Cologne.

He cited "the sun and joy of life" for the move, and maybe the money was also a factor as Italian salaries were much higher at the time.

After one season each at Mantua and Roma he spent nine years at AC Milan 1965-1974, winning a host of titles including the Serie A, European Cup, and two Cup Winners' Cups.

He briefly returned to Germany for a few matches at Tennis Borussia Berlin 1974-75 before ending his career and continue to live in Italy.

Schnellinger said that Italians never held a grudge against him for scoring in the 1970 game.

"Never. No one ever blamed me. And after all, they won the match," he said.

Known as Carlo il Biondo» (Karl the Blone) in Italy, he enjoyed vast success there which lives on.

Gazzetta dello Sport named Schnellinger "the most Italian German in our football" in their obituary, and added: "He had a ruby-red face, two huge thighs, like a weightlifter. But he moved with amazing agility in his legs."

Schnellinger also said that by living in Italy he was forgotten in Germany, not invited by the DFB for the 2006 World Cup and no longer in contact with old Germany team-mates. He did also not attend Franz Beckenbauer's funeral early in the year.

"It feels like I am a foreigner in Germany, and in Italy as well. But that is OK," he said on the occasion of his 85th birthday on March 31.