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Manchester's legendary German goalkeeper Bert Trautmann dies

Manchester City's former German goalkeeper Bert Trautmann has died in Spain aged 89. Trautmann, a former prisoner-of-war, became a legend in 1956 when he played on despite a broken neck caused in an on-field collision.

The German Football Association (DFB) announced that Trautmann died on Friday morning at his home in the Spanish town of La Llosa, near Valencia. He was 89 years old.

"Bert Trautmann was a magnificent sportsman and a true gentleman," said DFB President Wolfgang Niersbach. "He was already a legend in his lifetime. His extraordinary career will remain in the history books for ever."

Bert Trautmann, born Bernhard Carl Trautmann in Bremen on 22 October 1923, came to England as a prisoner-of-war during the Second World War, after fighting for the Germans as a paratrooper. After his release, he settled in Lancashire, and rose from playing as goalkeeper for a local team to signing for Manchester City in 1949.

His entrance into English national football was at first met with hostility, as many fans objected to a former Luftwaffe member playing for an English team.

Stuff of legends

However, Trautmann later became a soccer legend, largely because of his heroic performance in his team's 3:1 FA Cup Final victory against Birmingham City in 1956.

Trautmann played the last 17 minutes of the game and made several crucial saves with what turned out to be a broken neck after a collision with Birmingham striker Peter Murphy.

He was named England's Footballer of the Year at the end of that season.

Trautmann played for Manchester City until 1964, and made altogether 545 appearances for the team. After the end of his playing career, he moved into management.

West Germany’s policy of selecting only home-based players meant that Trautmann never played a single game for his home country.

In 2004, he was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for promoting Anglo-German relations through football.

tj/ipj (Reuters, SID, dpa)