Ernst Ocwirk in 1953
|Full name||Ernst Ocwirk|
|Date of birth||7 March 1926|
|Place of birth||Vienna, Austria|
|Date of death||23 January 1980(aged 53)|
|Place of death||Klein-Pöchlarn, Austria|
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Playing position||Central Midfielder|
|1970–1971||1. FC Köln|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
He spent the majority of his playing and coaching years between Austria and Italy, being both player and manager for the clubs FK Austria Vienna and Serie A's Sampdoria. He also went on to become a member of the Austria national team, which he led to a third-place finish at the 1954 World Cup as its captain.
Nicknamed Clockwork by the British for his midfield consistency,as well as the nickname being suggested by his surname, he is often cited as the last of the old-fashioned attacking centre-halves; he was known for his aesthetic and technical style of playing, his heading ability, excellent timing (both in offensive and defensive tasks) and his passing range; particularly his long passing ability. The fans loved him for his modest and fair personality. The international media of the era saw Ocwirk as "the best centerhalf in the world". He is considered one of the greatest central midfielders of all time.
Born in Vienna, Ocwirk began his career as a striker. He joined his first club, the local FC Stadlau, in 1938. He then played for Floridsdorfer AC, where he was spotted by former Austrian international Josef Smistik, who moved Ocwirk to centre midfield. Smistik tried to bring him to his former team, Rapid Vienna, but it was rivals FK Austria who won the race for his services and, in 1947, signed him.
Brought to Sampdoria by Alberto Ravano, he was the second Austrian footballer ever to play in Serie A after Engelbert König had done it in the 1940s. He also remained the last Austrian in Serie A until 1980, when Herbert Prohaska played for Internazionale. Ocwirk would play five seasons at the Genova club, of which he became the captain. In 1961, he returned to FK Austria to play the final season of his career, winning the "double" in 1961/62.
Ocwirk was chosen in Austria's Team of the Century in 2001.
By 1953 the stopper centre-back had taken over, so Ocwirk was selected as a wing-half for a Rest-of-the-World team which drew 4–4 with England to celebrate the 90th birthday of the Football Association. His international successes earned him the honour of twice being named captain of the "FIFA World team".
At the 1954 World Cup, Ocwirk captained Austria and played in all five of his team matches, helping it achieve its best ever World Cup finish, third place. The centre-half scored two goals during the tournament: the one that gave Austria the lead after trailing 0–3 in the memorable quarter-final against hosts Switzerland, and the 3–1 in the third place match against reigning champions Uruguay.
Immediately after retiring from playing, Ocwirk became a manager, and Sampdoria was the first team he coached, from 1962 to 1965. He also managed German side 1. FC Köln one year, taking them to the final of the DFB Cup.
Death and legacy
A friendly tournament was played in July 1981 in homage to Ernst Ocwirk at Wiener Stadion. The participants were FK Austria Wien, SK Rapid Wien, Ferencvárosi TC and Bayern Munich. Bayern Munich won the tournament.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ernst Ocwirk.|
- Profile – FK Austria
- Player profile – Austria Archive
- Ernst Ocwirk at National-Football-Teams.com
|Austrian Sportsman of the Year