Sepp Herberger

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Sepp Herberger
Herberger in 1957
Personal information
Full name Josef Herberger
Date of birth (1897-03-28)28 March 1897
Place of birth Mannheim, German Empire
Date of death 28 April 1977(1977-04-28) (aged 80)
Place of death Mannheim, West Germany
Position(s) Striker
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1914–1921 Waldhof Mannheim 127 (101)
1922–1926 VfR Mannheim 66 (55)
1926–1930 Tennis Borussia Berlin 43 (30)
Total 236 (186)
International career
1921–1925 Germany 3 (2)
Managerial career
1928–1929 SV Nowawes 03
1930–1932 Tennis Borussia Berlin
1932–1933 Western Germany
1932–1936 Germany (assistant coach)
1936–1942 Germany
1945–1946 Eintracht Frankfurt (interim)
1950–1964 West Germany
Medal record
Representing  West Germany (As manager)
FIFA World Cup
Winner 1954 Switzerland

Sepp Herberger's signature
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Josef "Sepp" Herberger (28 March 1897 – 28 April 1977) was a German football player and manager. He is most famous for being the manager of the West Germany national team that won the 1954 FIFA World Cup final, a match later dubbed The Miracle of Bern, defeating the overwhelming favourites from Hungary. Previously he had also coached the Breslau Eleven, one of the greatest teams in German football history.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Mannheim, Herberger grew up in a poor, Catholic family of farmers, which moved to Mannheim in order to work in the local Saint-Gobain glass factory.

He later played three times for the German football team between 1921 and 1925[1] before becoming assistant to Otto Nerz in 1932. Herberger succeeded him as national coach after Germany's uninspired loss to Norway in quarter finals at the 1936 Olympics.[2] After the war, he had a short spell as interim coach with Eintracht Frankfurt, before being recalled as national team coach in 1950. He remained the position until 1964, when he was succeeded by Helmut Schön. He died of pneumonia in Weinheim-Hohensachsen (de), aged 80.

1954 World Cup win, "The Miracle of Bern"[edit]

Hungary was the overwhelming favourite to win the 1954 World Cup. Its legendary Golden Team, also known as the Mighty Magyars, had not lost a match in four years. They were the reigning Olympic Champion and had won the Central European International Cup in 1953. Once the World Cup started, Hungary had been dominant, outscoring their opponents 17–3 in their two group games while West Germany had been outscored 9–7. In their match against each other, Hungary had won 8–3. The final was played in heavy rain. Hungary scored an early goal and minutes later doubled their lead. Germany pulled one back within two minutes, and equalized eight minutes after that. Hungary had more chances the rest of the way, but was unable to score. West Germany scored with six minutes left in the match to win 3–2. Among Herberger's moves credited with helping the team in the final are: fielding a below strength and largely out-of-position team in the first match against Hungary, to disguise the team's strengths; giving Fritz Walter defensive help, so he could concentrate his energies on attacking; and instructing his team to attack the Hungarian penalty area from the wings, instead of down the middle.

References in popular culture[edit]

Three of Herberger's popular sayings are quoted in the beginning of the 1998 film Run Lola Run. The first is at the very beginning of the film (Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel, "After the game is before the game"). The second quote is "Der Ball ist rund und das Spiel dauert 90 Minuten"," says a character later introduced as a security guard at the bank in which Lola visits her father. Both of which is a commonly used amalgamation of two separate famous quotes.

The 2003 film, The Miracle of Bern, following Herberger and his team's path to victory in the 1954 World Cup, also features a number of these quotations including the amalgamation of two of the above, "The ball is round and the game lasts for 90 minutes" (Der Ball ist rund und das Spiel dauert 90 Minuten).


Herberger joined the Nazi Party in 1933.[3] His nomination to the Germany's Sports Hall of Fame in 2008 caused some criticism because of his Nazi past.[4]

Coaching record[edit]

Team From To Record
G W D L Win % Ref.
Germany 1936 1942 70 42 13 15 060.00
West Germany 1950 1964 97 52 14 31 053.61
total record 167 94 27 46 056.29 [5]


As a player[edit]

VfR Mannheim

As a manager[edit]

West Germany




  1. ^ Arnhold, Matthias (20 June 2019). "Josef "Sepp" Herberger - International Matches as Coach". Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  2. ^ Mamrud, Roberto (20 June 2019). "Josef "Sepp" Herberger - International Matches as Coach". Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  3. ^ "German Federation Admits to Nazi Past". The New York Times. 20 September 2005. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  4. ^ "'Hall of Fame' Sparks Controversy: Germany Launches Valhalla of Sporting Legends". Der Spiegel. 6 May 2008. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  5. ^ "Nationaltrainer" (in German). DFB. Archived from the original on 3 January 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  6. ^ Rainbow, Jamie (4 July 2013). Written at Farnborough. "The Greatest manager of all time". World Soccer. London: TI Media. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  7. ^ Rainbow, Jamie (2 July 2013). Written at Farnborough. "The Greatest: – how the panel voted". World Soccer. London: TI Media. Retrieved 23 December 2019.

External links[edit]