Toni Fritsch

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Toni Fritsch
Personal information
Full name Anton Fritsch
Date of birth (1945-07-10)July 10, 1945
Place of birth Petronell-Carnuntum, Austria
Date of death September 13, 2005(2005-09-13) (aged 60)
Place of death Vienna, Austria
Playing position Striker
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1963–1971 Rapid Wien 123 (15)
National team
1965–1968 Austria 9 (2)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 28 June 2008.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 28 June 2008
Toni Fritsch
No. 15, 16
Position: Kicker
Personal information
Date of birth: (1945-07-10)July 10, 1945
Place of birth: Vienna, Austria
Date of death: September 13, 2005(2005-09-13) (aged 60)
Place of death: Vienna, Austria
Height: 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Weight: 190 lb (86 kg)
Career information
Undrafted: 1971
Career history
*Inactive and/or offseason member only
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games: 125
Stats at NFL.com
Stats at pro-football-reference.com

Anton K. "Toni" Fritsch (July 10, 1945 – September 13, 2005) was an Austrian footballer who later started a successful career in American football in the United States.

Soccer career[edit]

Toni Fritsch started to play association football (soccer) at an early age and joined the Austrian record titleholder Rapid Vienna at the age of 13. After six seasons, he was admitted to the club's first league team and played his first professional game in fall 1964. During his time there, he played 123 games for Rapid, scoring 15 goals. The team won the Austrian Championship three times (1964, 1967, 1968) and the Austrian Cup twice (1968, 1969). He was described as a small, but extremely fast striker.

Fritsch played for the Austria national football team nine times. He scored two goals when Austria defeated England 3-2 in London's Wembley Stadium on October 20, 1965, from which his nickname "Wembley-Toni" is derived. This was only the third time for a continental team to beat England at home (following Hungary in 1953 and Sweden in 1959).

Football career[edit]

Dallas Cowboys[edit]

Fritsch was a soccer player who never played a down of American football, that the Dallas Cowboys converted into a place kicker. He was discovered by the team's scouts during a 1971 european tour, in which they were looking for soccer-style kickers, which at the time was becoming popular in the NFL. The first city they went to was Vienna and the first player they tried was Fritsch. Though hardly speaking any English at all, he decided to sign a contract as an undrafted free agent, move to the United States and join the team's training camp.

He was activated on November 1 after starting the season on the taxi squad,[1] making his NFL debut against the St. Louis Cardinals, where he kicked a game-winning field goal in a 16-13 victory.[2] That year he suffered from a pulled hamstring muscle and shared kicking duties with Mike Clark.[3] In 1972, he made a club record 21 field goals and was a part of the Super Bowl VI winning team,[4] the first Austrian to do so.

In 1974, he was lost for the season after injuring his knee and was replaced with Efren Herrera.[5] The next year Herrera was placed on the injured reserve list and Fritsch came back to lead the NFL in points (104) and the National Football Conference in field goals (22). Because of inconsistencies,[6] he was traded to the San Diego Chargers in exchange for a seventh round draft choice on September 6, 1976.

San Diego Chargers[edit]

With the San Diego Chargers he played in 5 games before being waived because he was inconsistent.[7]

Houston Oilers[edit]

On September 18, 1977, he was signed as a free agent by the Houston Oilers and led the American Football Conference with a 75% field goal average.[8] He was a part of the franchise's "Luv Ya Blue" period. In 1979, he received All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors. The next year he led the league with a 79.2% field goal average. He was cut on September 3, 1982, after being beaten by Florian Kempf.[9]

New Orleans Saints[edit]

Fritsch was signed as a free agent by the New Orleans Saints in 1982, to replace an injured rookie Morten Andersen and reuniting with his former head coach Bum Phillips.[10] On December 21, 1982, he announced his retirement.[11] He finished with 758 points in 125 games during his 11-year NFL career, among those 317 for Dallas. He led the NFL in field goal percentage three times (1977, 1979, 1980). His NFL record of having kicked a field goal in 13 straight playoff games was tied by Adam Vinatieri on January 13, 2007.

Houston Gamblers (USFL)[edit]

In 1984, he came out of retirement to sign with the Houston Gamblers of the United States Football League and at the end of the season received All-League honors.[12] He converted 42 of 50 field goals and 126 of 131 extra points for a total of 252 points in two seasons.

Personal life[edit]

After his retirement he worked in Europe as a sports commentator and in the world of finance, providing support to Austrian businessmen who wanted to settle in the United States. Even though Fritsch worked for his former Austrian football (soccer) club Rapid Vienna for one year in 1992-1993, he remained a resident of Houston throughout the rest of his life.

On September 13, 2005, Fritsch suddenly collapsed on a Vienna street after a meal at a restaurant. He died of heart failure at the age of 60.[13]

Honours (soccer)[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]