Bert Trautmann is revered for possibly the bravest FA Cup performance in history.
Born in Bremen between the two World Wars, Trautmann joined the Luftwaffe and served as a paratrooper during World War II.
Captured by the British as the war drew to a close, he was moved to a prisoner of war camp in Lancashire and adopted the North West as his home for nearly two decades, signing for City in 1949.
It was an interesting start at Maine Road – 20,000 people protested at his transfer in light of his German roots with memories still fresh of Adolf Hitler’s policies.
Fifteen years later, more than 47,000 turned up to pay tribute to the keeper at his testimonial following retirement.
The feeling is evidently mutual, with Trautmann once declaring: “I’ve been lucky enough to play in front of the most magnificent fans in the world.”
Trautmann’s first flirtation with glory in England’s premier cup competition came when he reached the FA Cup final in 1955, but City finished runners-up to Newcastle.
Being the first German player to play in an FA Cup final at Wembley was something absolutely magnificent for me.
The following year’s assault would prove more fruitful, and the keeper’s vital contribution commenced in the fourth round, where a series of impressive saves ensured a 1-0 victory away at Southend.
But it was his performance on the Wembley turf that was so extraordinary it became career-defining.
City had taken a 3-1 lead against Birmingham in the final, with Trautmann heavily involved in the third – the former paratrooper started the move when he lofted a ball downfield for Dyson to run onto and flick the ball on for Bobby Johnstone to gleefully tuck the ball home.
The magnificent stopper was desperate to preserve the Blues’ hard-fought lead, and with 17 minutes to go dived at the feet of the onrushing forward, Peter Murphy. The Birmingham player’s knee collided with the City goalkeeper’s neck in a sickening clash, which knocked Trautmann out.
Football had not yet been persuaded to include substitutes and so City looked as if they would play the game’s closing stages with ten men. But Trautmann had other ideas.
Rising to his feet, the unsteady goalkeeper took his place between the posts once more as the clock ran down, his teammates desperately trying to clear the ball out of play before it got anywhere near the brave German.
Two more top saves were required to see City over the line, and in clawing the ball away the second time the keeper collided with his own defender, Dave Ewing, in an agonising fashion and had to be revived again before he could continue.
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’.
It was only days later that an X-ray revealed a broken neck.
His legendary status in the FA Cup capped off a truly remarkable year – the stopper was named Football Writers’ Player of the Year eight days before the final.
Trautmann reflected: “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."