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Resources Jul 31, 2014

Q&A with Horst Eckel, 1954 World Cup champion with West Germany

By Kai Dambach

Horst Eckel is one of the two last surviving members of the starting eleven for the 1954 World Cup winning West German squad.

This moment, known as Das Wunder von Bern (the miracle of Bern) in Germany, was arguably Germany’s greatest sporting moment. Without a national league, and less than a decade removed from the tragedies of World War II, this team managed to make the finals. In the pouring rain,West Germany came back from two goals down after ten minutes to win 3-2 over the Golden Team of Hungary. This was Hungary’s lone loss in 4 years.

We only had time for five questions, here they are. What was the mood of the team, of yourself, going into the final match?
Horst Eckel: We were in the best mood you can imagine, same to me, because we had got the chance to get world champions and never thought before that this could be true.

SW: Going down two goals in under 10 minutes could not have sat well. What were you thinking after the two early goals? What caused the comeback?
HE: Our team spirit (“Spirit of Spiez”) was the reason why we came back.

SW: Where were you for the final goal? What was the celebration like for the goal from Rahn?
HE: I was nearby Hidegkuti, as the most time of the game, so I was told from Herberger to do. The celebration for the goal from Rahn was like the other ones, but after the goal there was the feeling that we could get it and we told it among each other.

SW: What ran through your mind when the match finally came to an end?
HE: Are we really world champions? I can’t believe it!

SW: What effect did the championship have on you, personally? Germany as a whole?
HE: A lot of things changed in my life, many appointments followed and so I stood in public more than before. The people in Germany were very proud and felt much better as in the years before the end of the World War.

SW: What bond do you have with your teammates from that World Cup? Did you keep in touch with any of the Hungarian players after the tournament?
HE: Of course we five players from Kaiserslautern met a lot of times to play football in our team in the following years. Some of the others also played 1958 in Sweden. The whole team came together sometimes for TV productions or benefit matches until the late 70s. I’m still going to meet Jeno Buzanszky sometimes. The last time it was in Spiez this year.