Player name in full: Bernhard Carl “Bert” Trautmann
To/from dates: 1949-1964
Number of appearances: 545
Goals scored: 0
Bernhard Carl "Bert" Trautmann OBE was born in Bremen, Germany, on 22 October 1923.
He grew up during times of inter-war strife in Germany. In his early years he served in the Hitler Youth, joining in August 1933, and showed a keen interest in various sports including football, athletics, handball and volkerball, a form of dodgeball.
In 1941 he then joined the Luftwaffe, where he became a paratrooper and ultimately served on the Russian front line.
Towards the end of the war he was finally captured by the British. He was kept at various prisoner of war camps until eventually being moved to Prisoner of War Camp 50 in Ashton in Makerfield near St. Helens where he remained until 1948.
During this time he started playing football, initially as a defender, but during one game when he was injured he was moved to goalkeeper and this became his regular position. It was during this period that he became known as Bert.
With the closure of the POW camp imminent, he declined an offer of repatriation and stayed in England, working as a farmer and then in bomb disposal, whilst playing amateur football regularly for St. Helen’s Town. He also met the club secretary’s daughter, Margaret Friar, who he was later to marry.
His reputation grew quickly and the first club to offer him a contract was Manchester City, in Division 1. On 7th October 1949 Bert Trautmann signed for the club as an amateur and turned professional shortly after.
Bert Trautmann made his debut for Manchester City on 19th November 1949 away to Bolton Wanderers at Burnden Park, in Division 1.
Many Manchester City fans were unhappy about signing a former member of the Luftwaffe and various groups protested. Before his first home game, a local religious leader wrote an open letter to the local evening newspaper appealing to all City fans to treat him with respect. He continued to receive abuse during away games and in 1950 he played his first match in London, again receiving abuse from the crowd. However although losing 0-1 at the end of the game he received a standing ovation from both sets of players.
During the next couple of years he established himself as an ever present, missing only 5 games through injury, and he became one of the leading goalkeepers in the country.
In 1955 he was on the losing side in the F.A. Cup Final, City being beaten 1-3 by Newcastle United. However in the following year City returned to Wembley beating Birmingham City 3-1 to win the 1956 F.A. Cup. This match was to become famous as the Trautmann final as with 17 minutes to play he dived at an incoming ball, and was knocked out in a collision in which he was hit on the neck by Peter Murphy's right knee. No substitutes were permitted in those days, so dazed and unsteady, he carried on. For the remaining time he defended his net, making a crucial interception to deny Murphy once more. At the end of the game he was hailed as the hero because of his spectacular saves and bravery. He admitted later that he had spent the last part of the match "in a kind of fog". It was discovered 3 days later that he had broken his neck and dislocated 5 vertebrae which could have led to paralysis or even death. He was out of the game for around 6 months.
His final game was on 28th March1964 away to Preston North End at Deepdale, in Division 2, ending in a 0-2 defeat. In total Bert Trautmann played 545 games for Manchester City ranking him fourth in the all-time list of appearances for the club.
On 15 April 1964, he ended his career with a testimonial at Maine Road in front of a crowd officially numbered at 47,000, though the true figure was estimated to be closer to 60,000 with thousands locked outside.
He became the first sportsman in Britain to wear Adidas, thanks to his friendship with Adolf Dassler.
Non-City career (briefly):
Bert Trautmann to this day remains one of Manchester City’s favourite sons not just known for his skills and bravery, but also for his work in strengthening Anglo German relations, for which he received an OBE in 2004.
Sadly he died on 19th July 2013 at his home in Spain.