My debt to City, by Bert Trautmann, OBE
- 19 July 2013 13:31
- Posted by @dclayton_mcfc
Two years ago, Bert Trautmann spoke of his pride at representing Manchester City…
“It’s very difficult after 50 years to think of individual moments in your career or your life that stand out but one strong memory that I do recall was the first time I played in London as a City player.
“I was afraid of the reception I would get because London was so heavily bombed during the war. I spoke to my father-in-law and he said that I’d got the Midlands and the north-west behind me during my first few months at City and now I was facing the most powerful and critical press in the country.
“I quite understood that the people of London probably wouldn’t hold a German in very high esteem after what had happened, but it was something I had to face.
“So we arrived at Craven Cottage and began the game – Fulham had the famous Arthur Rowley playing for them at the time – and they really played us off the park and I was kept busy for the entire 90 minutes.
“It was luck that I played so well on the day.
"I wanted to show the people I was a good goalkeeper and a good German and things went my way that day. But for both sets of players to applaud me off at full-time and for the Fulham fans to give me a standing ovation, it’s something I will never forget."
“I suppose that played a big part in me being accepted as a player in England and the papers the following day sang my praises, saying it could have been eight or nine instead of the 1-0 it actually was.
“Being the first German player to play in an FA Cup final at Wembley was something absolutely magnificent for me. We lost 3-1 to Newcastle United on the day and yes, you feel a little sorry for yourself that you lose such a huge game but it was an amazing day and I just looked around the stadium and thought ‘you lucky man!’
“Then, of course, we returned a year later and won, but of course many people remember the game because of the injury I sustained during the match. I played over 500 league games for City but that moment is still the one people refer to so it can be a little frustrating at times because no matter how well I played during that time, people will still say ‘ah, you’re the fellow who broke his neck playing at Wembley’. I’ll admit it’s not something I particularly like but it’s something I’ve had to live with.
“I didn’t know exactly what had happened at the time but that’s how footballers were back then – a lot hardier I suppose than today, but I’d better watch what I say in case I upset someone!
“Then there was my testimonial at Maine Road which was incredible. The crowds at City weren’t so good and it was a rainy, Monday evening so I wasn’t expecting too many people to come, but I think the official crowd was about 47,000 – some believe it may have been several thousand more.
“I couldn’t have felt prouder and I felt very emotional that the people of Manchester had come out in such numbers to pay their respects to me. It was the final chapter of a wonderful playing career for me.
“I know my life story has been quite interesting and there have been books written and even a film is being made. I’ve always felt very fortunate to have played for Manchester City and to have got to know the people of Great Britain, Lancashire and particularly those of St Helen’s and Manchester.
“I was accepted by the City players from my first day at the club and though there were some concerns and protests initially when the story broke that I was about to sign, I shall never forget the Manchester Rabbi quietening down the crowds and urging them to give me a chance.
“I shall always be grateful for my time in England and my days with City. I was awarded the OBE not so long ago and I was the first ambassador between England and Germany after the War. I’ve been lucky enough to play in front of the most magnificent fans in the world and I’m still flabbergasted at the reception I receive each time and I still think, even today, that I have been a very lucky man.”