Felix Magath & The Amazing Story of Deutschland’s ’82 World Cup

West Germany Espana 82

The recent appointment of Felix Magath as boss at Fulham brought back a lot of memories for everyone at BOBBY.

As a player Magath enjoyed a distinguished career; winning three Bundesliga titles with Hamburger SV in a ten year spell with the club, not to mention the European Cup in 1983 – Magath himself scoring the only goal of the game against Juventus in Athens.

Trapattoni’s star-studded Juve team included Michel Platini, Zbigniew Boniek and the spine of the Italian side that won the World Cup the previous year; Dino Zoff, Claudio Gentile, Antonio Cabrini, Roberto Bettega, Marco Tardelli and Paolo Rossi – but on the night the conquerors of Aston Villa were unable to break down a stubborn and disciplined HSV.

It was the first time the trophy hadn’t been won by an English club since 1976.

Magath is the son of a former Puerto Rican soldier in the US Army who was stationed in Germany. He returned to his homeland when Felix was just an infant and they never met again until Felix visited Puerto Rico in 1999. They now meet up every year.

Magath is also a chess enthusiast. In fact he’s rather good at it and has previously played an exhibition match against the great Garry Kasparov.


The 1982 World Cup was certainly an eventful one for Magath and his West German teammates.

The Germans, champions of Europe at the time, were the victims of one of the great World Cup shocks when they were beaten 2-1 by Algeria in their opening game. A 4-1 win over Chile (with Rummenigge scoring a hat-trick) got them back on track meaning a win in their final game would see them progress. But In their way were neighbours Austria.

Schande von Gijón

With Algeria and Chile having played the day before, the Germans knew that a win by one or two goals would result in both them and Austria qualifying at the expense of Algeria. After 10 minutes Horst Hrubesch gave West Germany the lead. Thereafter, neither team scored, or more accurately neither team tried to score. It seemed obvious to everyone that an unspoken agreement had been reached to play for a 1–0 German win. The match was labelled the Schande von Gijón (disgrace of Gijón).

The story has since evolved to the point that people talk of the Germans and Austrians as being bossom-buddies and therefore such a result was unsurprising.

But it was a surprise. You see in the second group stage of the previous World Cup in 1978, the Austrians, despite having already been eliminated, had made great efforts to beat West Germany 3–2 in a match known as the Miracle of Cordoba, and that win deprived the Germans of the chance of playing Brazil in the Third Place match. The two teams were considered to be fierce rivals…


In what was a new format for this World Cup, the Germans were drawn with England and hosts Spain in a group of three for the second round. After a goalless draw with England, Spain were overcome in Madrid 2-1 with goals from Littbarski and Fischer. Ron Greenwood’s men could not match the Germans feat, another 0-0 draw meant England went home without losing a game while the Germans advanced to the semi-finals and a meeting with the French.


In a what turned into one of the greatest games in World Cup history, the Germans encountered further controversy in the semi-final. It was lively from the start; Pierre Littbarski firing home on 17 minutes before Michel Platini restored parity from the spot 9 minutes later.

The real drama came in the second half though. French defender Patrick Battiston, who’d only been on the pitch ten minutes, was trying to latch onto a through ball when German goalkeeper Toni Schumacher raced out to intervene. Battiston flicked the ball past Schumacher but the German crashed into Battiston, breaking his jaw and knocking out two of his teeth in the process.

Somewhat amazingly, Dutch referee Charles Corver gave nothing more than a goal kick, despite the near decapitation.

Christian Lopez replaced the stretchered-off Battiston, and another French defender, Manuel Amoros almost won the game when his long range effort smashed against the bar in the final minute.

Extra time was only two minutes old when France’s sweeper Marius Trésor hit a swerving volley beyond Schumacher to put the French ahead. Six minutes later and the Germans were hit on the counter; Alain Giresse driving in off the post to seemingly put the game to bed.

But the Germans refused to give up. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, on as a sub, converted a cross with a near-post finish with the outside of his boot on 102 minutes for 3-2.

The comeback was on, and an acrobatic bicycle kick from Klaus Fischer leveled the scores three minutes into the second period of extra-time to take the match to the first ever penalty shootout at the World Cup Finals.

After five penalites France were 3-2 up when Uli Stielike became the first player to fail to convert a penalty in a World Cup Finals shootout.

But then Schumacher stepped forward, lifted the tearful Stielike from the ground, and promptly saved Didier Six’s effort.

With Germany handed the lifeline they needed Littbarski converted his penalty, followed by Platini for France, and then Rummenigge for Germany as the tension became unbearable. France defender Maxime Bossis then had his kick parried by Schumacher – who shouldn’t have been on the pitch of course – and Hrubesch stepped up to score the winning kick.

Final Heartbreak

Perhaps the almighty efforts of West Germany in this match took too much of a toll as the Italians seemed much the fresher side in the final. Antonio Cabrini missed a penalty in the first half but they weren’t to be denied, rattling in three in the second half through Rossi, Tardelli and Altobelli.

With seven minutes left Paul Breitner pulled one back but it was all a bridge too far for Josef Derwall’s men who were second best on the night.

Magath would suffer similar heartbreak four years later; again West Germany made it all the way to the final but this time they were pipped 3-2 by Argentina in Mexico, in what was one of his final appearances before retiring.


Big thanks to our friends at Football Stickipedia for access to their archive.

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