Fritz Walter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fritz Walter
Fritz Walter cropped 2.JPG
Walter with Kaiserslautern in October 1956
Personal information
Full name Friedrich Walter
Date of birth (1920-10-31)31 October 1920
Place of birth Kaiserslautern, Germany
Date of death 17 June 2002(2002-06-17) (aged 81)
Place of death Enkenbach-Alsenborn, Germany
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)[1]
Position(s) Attacking midfielder, inside forward
Youth career
1928–1937 1. FC Kaiserslautern[a]
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1937–1959 1. FC Kaiserslautern 428 (372)
1943 TSG Diedenhofen 29 (18)
1943 TSG Saargemünd 12 (1)
Total 469 (391)
International career
1940–1958 Germany / West Germany 61 (33)
Managerial career
1945–1949 1. FC Kaiserslautern (player-coach)
1960 VfL Neustadt/Coburg
1962–1968 SV Alsenborn
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Friedrich "Fritz" Walter (German pronunciation: [fʁɪt͡s ˈvaltɐ], audio ; 31 October 1920 – 17 June 2002) was a German footballer who spent his entire senior career at 1. FC Kaiserslautern. He usually played as an attacking midfielder or inside forward. In his time with the Germany and West Germany national teams, he appeared in 61 games and scored 33 goals, and was the captain of the team that won the 1954 FIFA World Cup.

Life and career[edit]

Early club career[edit]

Walter was exposed to football early with his parents working at the 1. FC Kaiserslautern club restaurant. By 1928 he had joined the Kaiserslautern youth academy, and he made his first team debut at 17, continuing an association with the club that would be his only professional club.[2][3][4]

International pro teams had repeatedly offered him hefty sums, but with support from his wife always declined in order to stay at home, to play for his home town, the national team and "Chef" (German for "boss") Herberger.

International debut[edit]

Walter debuted with the Germany national team in 1940 under Sepp Herberger, and scored a hat-trick against Romania.[3]


Walter was drafted into the armed forces in 1942, however, the end of the war found 24-year-old Walter in a Prisoner of War camp in Maramures in which he played with Hungarian and Slovakian guards. When the Soviets arrived they generally took all German prisoners back to Gulags in the Soviet Union. One of the Hungarian prison guards had seen Walter playing for Germany, and told them that Fritz was not German but from the Saar Protectorate.[5] Walter would later call the match in question as the most important of his life as it spared him and his brother from a gulag sentence.

Return to Germany[edit]

Upon his return in 1945, Walter, who by now suffered from malaria, again played for Kaiserslautern,[6] leading them to German championships in 1951 and 1953. Walter coached VfR Kaiserslautern during the 1948-1949 season and helped them win the 1948-1949 Westpfälzischen Amateurliga. Sepp Herberger recalled Walter to the national team in 1951, and he was named captain.[3]

He was captain of the West German team that won their first World Cup in 1954, beating Hungary. He and his brother, Ottmar Walter, became the first brothers to play in a World Cup winning team.[4]

In 1956, after the crackdown by the Soviets of the Hungarian Uprising, the Hungarian football team were caught away from home, and for two years, Fritz managed their games and provided the financial backing and in small measure, paid them back for having saved him from deportation to the Soviet Union. Walter received his last cap[7] during the semi-final against Sweden in the 1958 World Cup, suffering an injury which ended his international career, and he retired from football in 1959.

Later life and legacy[edit]

Memorial for the 1. FC Kaiserslautern players in the 1954 FIFA World Cup Final. From left to right: Werner Liebrich, Walter, Werner Kohlmeyer, Horst Eckel and Ottmar Walter.

The home stadium of FC Kaiserslautern was renamed the Fritz-Walter-Stadion in 1985.

Fritz Walter was named an honorary captain of the German football squad in 1958.[8] The other four are Uwe Seeler, Franz Beckenbauer, Lothar Matthäus and Bettina Wiegmann.

Walter died in Enkenbach-Alsenborn on 17 June 2002, aged 81.[9] It was his dream to see the World Cup 2006 in "his" town Kaiserslautern as the town had not been selected in the smaller tournament of 1974, but it was denied with his death. But on the fourth anniversary of his death on 17 June 2006, the United States played Italy in Kaiserslautern and a minute of silence was observed in his memory. Today people may visit the "Fritz Walter Haus" in the town of Enkenbach-Alsenborn approx. 20 km east of Kaiserslautern (first exit from Kaiserslautern on Bundesautobahn 6 direction Mannheim).[10]

In November 2003, to celebrate UEFA's 50th anniversary, the German Football Association selected him as its Golden Player of the past 50 years (from 1954 to 2003).[11]

During the eighties and nineties, there was another successful Bundesliga striker called "Fritz Walter", who mainly played for VfB Stuttgart. Although he had no relationship to the great Kaiserslautern captain, sports fans jokingly called him "Fritz Walter junior".

In 2005, the Fritz Walter Medal, a series of annual awards which were established in his honour, and which are given by the German Football Association to youth footballers in Germany, was first awarded.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Walter in 1965

Walter's wife of five decades was Italia Bortoluzzi Walter, a woman from Belluno, Italy.

It was popular knowledge in Germany that Walter appeared to play better the worse the weather was, and so now the term "Fritz Walter's weather" is used to describe rainy weather conditions, often rendered with odd local dialect grammar "of Fritz, his weather". This is because he, as many other soldiers, had contracted malaria during the war, thus rendering him unable to stand the heat of the sun. The 1954 World Cup final was played in "Fritz Walter's weather" conditions.

On 6 October 1956, Walter scored a spectacular goal in Leipzig in front of 100,000 East Germans during a friendly against Wismut Aue, when he hit the ball back-heel while diving forward.[13]

Career statistics[edit]

Club Season League
Division Apps Goals
1. FC Kaiserslautern 1939–40 Gauliga Südwest/Mainhessen 15 21
1940–41 Gauliga Südwest/Mainhessen 12 16
1941–42 Gauliga Südwest/Mainhessen 14 39
1942–43 Gauliga Südwest/Mainhessen 3 1
1945–46 Oberliga Südwest 14 16
1946–47 Oberliga Südwest 14 22
1947–47 Oberliga Südwest 24 31
1948–49 Oberliga Südwest 22 30
1949–50 Oberliga Südwest 26 34
1950–51 Oberliga Südwest 19 5
1951–52 Oberliga Südwest 27 19
1952–53 Oberliga Südwest 30 38
1953–54 Oberliga Südwest 29 20
1954–55 Oberliga Südwest 21 10
1955–56 Oberliga Südwest 25 16
1956–57 Oberliga Südwest 21 15
1957–58 Oberliga Südwest 26 5
1958–59 Oberliga Südwest 22 10
Total 364 348



1. FC Kaiserslautern

German football championship: 1950–51, 1952–53[15]



FIFA World Cup: 1954[15]


See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Even the 1928–1929 period as FV Kaiserslautern is included.
  1. ^ Fritz Walter at Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ "Tributes for the 'Hero of Berne'". UEFA. 18 June 2002. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
  3. ^ a b c "Fritz WALTER – Germany's post-war hero". FIFA Classic Player. FIFA. Archived from the original on 28 February 2008. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
  4. ^ a b "FIFA World Cup Star 1954: Fritz Walter". ContiSoccerWorld. Continental. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
  5. ^ "Fritz Walter – A Footballing Grandmaster : "I was there in 1942. I have seen you play against us. Hungary lost 3–5"". Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  6. ^ Arnhold, Matthias (14 January 2016). "Fritz Walter – Matches and Goals in Oberliga". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  7. ^ Stokkermans, Karel (14 January 2016). "Fritz Walter – Goals in International Matches". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  8. ^ The DFB Fritz Walter: Das Idol vom Betzenberg.
  9. ^ "World Cup hero Walter dies". BBC Sport. 17 June 2002. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
  10. ^ Dell'Apa, Frank (20 June 2006). "Immortal, beloved German icon still a presence". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 March 2007. Retrieved 10 August 2006.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "DFB verleiht Fritz-Walter-Medaille an Nachwuchsspieler" [DFB to award Fritz-Walter-Medal to youth players] (in German). German Football Association. 9 February 2004. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  13. ^ Trede, Broder-Jürgen (6 October 2006). "Fritz Walters Hackentrick: Das vergessene Jahrhunderttor". Der Spiegel.
  14. ^ "Fritz Walter Club-statistics". National Football Teams. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  15. ^ a b c d "Germany's post-war hero". FIFA. Archived from the original on 22 September 2015. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  16. ^ "Golden Players take centre stage". UEFA. 29 November 2003. Archived from the original on 5 January 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2010.

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by West Germany captain
Succeeded by