September 25th is the birthday of arguably Germany’s greatest player in the post-Beckenbauer era, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
Rummenigge followed in the footsteps of Helmut Rahn, Uwe Seeler and Gerd Müller ensuring West Germany’s world class forward line was maintained.
“Kalle” was born in Lippstadt in 1955 and played for the local club Borussia Lippstadt until he was 18 years old and discovered by Bayern Munich. His move to Bayern forced him to give up his job as a bank clerk and concentrate fully on football. It paid off handsomely.
Rummenigge spent a decade in Bavaria scoring 162 goals in the Bundesliga. The young Rummenigge was a member of Bayern’s 1976 European Cup winning team against St Etienne, having necked a glass of Brandy before the game to calm his nerves!
By the 1982 World Cup in Spain, Rummenigge had established himself as one of the superstars in the game. By then he was twice European Player of the Year (1980 and 1981), and a member of West Germany’s European Championship winning team in 1980 where he was named Player of the Tournament.
Knee problems prevented him from performing to his full potential at the World Cup and manager Jupp Derwall used him sparingly. His most memorable contribution – along with his hat-trick against Chile – saw him come off the bench in the classic semi-final against France to inspire a German comeback from 3-1 down with a goal and an assist to eventually win on penalties. A tired German team could not overcome Italy in the final though and lost 3-1.
Rummenigge, by now an Inter Milan player, would end his international career at the World Cup in 1986. “Kalle” was once again not fully fit, but Franz Beckenbauer – now coach – was determined to bring him to Mexico. He featured in all matches, mostly as a substitute, as West Germany once again reached the final. He was captain in his 95th and last international against Argentina in the Azteca stadium. Rummenigge scored one of the West German goals as they attempted to comeback from 2-0 down with 15 minutes left, but Burruchaga won it for Argentina just three minutes after Rudi Voller had equalised – and Rummenigge became the first captain to lose two World Cup finals.
Germans everywhere will tell you that a fully fit Rummenigge would have made the difference in those World Cups and they would have two more titles to their name.
He spent his last couple of seasons as a pro in Switzerland with Servette before retiring in 1989.
He is currently Chief Executive Officer at the FC Bayern München group of companies.
Rummenigge may not have been as prolific as Gerd Muller, but he was a better all-around player. Not only did he score with ease, he possessed great technique and was a brilliant creative influence for his side and a true legend of the game.
Happy Geburtstag Kalle from all at BOBBY!