1954 World Cup winner Ottmar Walter dead | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 16.06.2013
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1954 World Cup winner Ottmar Walter dead

German football legend Ottmar Walter has died. The former striker was a member of the West Germany side that famously captured the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland, dubbed the "Miracle of Bern."

Walter, 89, passed away in a care home early on Sunday, the German Football Association (DFB) said.

Walter played in West Germany's 3-2 World Cup final victory against Hungary.

"It is a sad day for all of German football," said DFB President Wolfgang Niersbach. "Ottmar Walter was one of the players who made the Miracle of Bern possible."

Walter played 20 times for West Germany and scored 10 goals.

Captaining the famous 1954 team was Walter's older brother, Fritz, who died in 2002. The two spent some two decades playing for hometown club Kaiserslautern during careers that were interrupted by the Second World War, winning the Bundesliga twice in 1951 and '53. The younger Ottmar scored an impressive 336 goals in 321 competitive matches for Kaiserslautern.

Five years after his World Cup triumph, Walter retired due to ongoing knee problems stemming from a war injury.

"A part of history has died," said Kaiserslautern official Stefan Kuntz. "The 1954 World Cup winners showed us values which are still relevant today."

Miracle of Bern

The Germans were seen as true underdogs in the World Cup final against the mighty Hungarians, who were unbeaten in 32 games leading up to the tournament. After going down 2-0 early in the match, including a goal from Hungary legend Ferenc Puskas, Germany rallied to win 3-2.

The victory was viewed as a major moment of national pride in West Germany, a country still recovering from the devastation of World War II. A popular German film about the tournament, also called "The Miracle of Bern" was released in 2003.

"For me it was a fabulous game," Walter told the DPA news agency in 2006.

With Walter's death, only two men who played in the 1954 final are still living, Horst Eckel and Hans Schäfer.

Cologne icon

One day earlier, World Cup winner Heinz Flohe also passed away. He was a member of the 1974 World Cup squad that defeated the Netherlands 2-1 in the final on home soil. He played a total of 39 times for his country, scoring eight goals.

Flohe, 65, played for Cologne for the majority of his career, winning a domestic league and cup double in 1978. He had fallen into a coma after a stroke in 2010 and had not recovered.

"With Heinz Flohe we have lost a brilliant footballer and a FC Cologne icon," said Cologne Vice President Toni Schumacher.

dr/jm (dpa, SID, AP, Reuters)