Janes (r.) scores against Yugoslavia in 1939
|Date of birth||11 March 1912|
|Place of birth||Leverkusen-Küppersteg, Germany|
|Date of death||12 June 1987(aged 75)|
|Place of death||Düsseldorf, Germany|
|Playing position||Defender, Sweeper|
|1940–1941||SpVgg. 1905 Wilhelmshaven|
|SV Eintracht Trier 05|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
Paul Janes (10 March 1912 in Leverkusen-Küppersteg – 12 June 1987 in Düsseldorf) was a German football player. He earned 71 caps and scored 7 goals for the Germany national football team from 1932 to 1942, and played in two World Cups: 1934 and 1938. Janes was a member of the Breslau Eleven that beat Denmark 8:0 in Breslau in 1937 and went on to win 10 out 11 games played during that year.
The DFB German Football Association (German FA) list him in the top 20 best German footballers of all time.
One of the best full backs of his era, Paul Janes established a record for most German caps which wasn’t broken until 1970. Janes started out as a right half back, but during the 1934 World Cup he debuted as right back and stayed at that position for some 4 seasons before moving back into a sweeper roll. He was injured during the 1936 Olympics and thus was spared of the embarrassing defeat of Germany by Norway. During the latter half of the 1930s, Germany possessed one of the strongest full back pairings in European football with Paul Janes on the right and Reinhold Münzenberg on the left side. Vittorio Pozzo, the coach of World Champions Italy, nominated Janes for a 1937 continental selection, but Janes could not participate due to an injury. One of Janes’ best assets was his powerful yet accurate shooting ability, which gave him the nickname "World Champion of Precision". His trademark were hard shots from all possible angles, his seven goals for Germany all came from either freekicks (4) or penalties (3). He was also a very calm player that kept his cool even in nerve-wrecking situations. Sepp Herberger said the following about Janes’ characteristics: "He rarely was caught off-guard on the pitch, as he had the ability to anticipate what the opponent was planning and he interpreted defensive play always as the first step in building up the next attack." Despite his calmness and overall cleverness, Janes was renowned for an extravaganza that he had imported from South America: He was the first German footballer to specialize in the acrobatic bicycle kick.
During World War II, Janes served in the Reichsmarine. He captained Germany 31 times. Despite his age of 38, Janes almost would have had a comeback for Germany in the first international game after WWII in 1950, but he broke his foot shortly before and thus had to finish his career for good. Janes was known to be a silent man who didn’t divulge in too much talking. In 1934, he was asked about how it was like playing in the World Cup in Italy, his response was: "Warm".
His home team was Fortuna Düsseldorf, where he worked as trainer after the war. He also coached Eintracht Trier. During his playing career Düsseldorf dominated the (topflight) district division through the late 1920s and 1930s, winning the Western German football championship in 1931, the German football championship in 1933 and a German Vice-Championship in 1936. The club also appeared in the final of the Tschammerpokal, predecessor of today's German Cup, in 1937. The Paul-Janes-Stadion in Düsseldorf-Flingern is one of Grounds from Fortuna Düsseldorf (1930–1972 and 2002–2005) named after their famous son.
In his 1978 book "Fussball", Helmut Schön characterised Janes as follows:
"A man who could fight but also able to play technically brilliant. He was gifted with a simply phenomenal spin kick; he scored countless goals with freekicks from 30 or 40 meters with his glass-hard shot."
- Bitter, Jürgen. Deutschlands Fußball Nationalspieler, Sportverlag, 1997, p. 219.