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Football legend Uwe Seeler dies at 85

July 21, 2022

Uwe Seeler, former captain of West Germany and an honorary captain of Germany has passed away at the age of 85. He spent his entire career at Hamburg and in the hearts of football fans, he will always remain "our Uwe."

Uwe Seeler, hands on a balcony, smiling, in black and white
Football great Uwe Seeler has died at the age of 85Image: Christian Charisius/dpa/picture alliance

The news of Uwe Seeler's passing was confirmed by his former club, Hamburg, on Thursday, citing information received from the late striker's family.

During his playing career with Hamburg and West Germany, which spanned from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s, Uwe Seeler was known as one of the world's best strikers and had many honors bestowed upon him. 

Three times Seeler was voted West Germany's Footballer of the Year, in 1960, 1964 and 1970 — the year he was also awarded West Germany's Federal Cross of Merit. Even though he never won a title with West Germany, in 1972 he became just the second man to be named honorary captain of the national team. He helped Hamburg to a German football championship in 1960, three years before the formation of the Bundesliga, as well as a German Cup title in 1963.

However, his public image was formed not so much by his footballing achievements but more by his down-to-earth, straightforward and easy-going personality, which earned him the nickname "uns Uwe" (our Uwe).He was also widely respected for his sense of fair play, having only been sent off once in his entire career. His rejection of a high-priced offer from Inter Milan in 1961 also endeared him to the Hamburg fans.

HSV forever

Uwe Seeler was born into a sporting family in Hamburg on November 5, 1936. His father, Erwin Seeler, was one of the city's most popular footballers from 1920s to the 1940s, so it came as no surprise when he too joined Hamburger SV in 1946. He established himself as a top goal scorer in the Oberliga Nord (then the top tier of West German football) between 1956 and 1962. When Hamburg became one of the founding members of the Bundesliga in 1963-64, Seeler became the new league's first top scorer with 30 goals.

West Germany coach Sepp Herberger gave Seeler his first call up to the national team in 1954 and he made his first appearance at the age of just 17. However, it was at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden that he established himself as an international star. Three years later, he wore the captain's armband for the first time. In 1966 he was a member of the West German team that lost 4-2 to England in the World Cup final in London's Wembley Stadium.

Uwe Seeler takes a shot on goal in 1965, black and white
Seeler (left) played for West Germany in several World CupsImage: Sven Simon/picture alliance

Four years later, though West Germany would get their revenge in the World Cup quarterfinals in Mexico as Seeler scored with the back of his head to give them a 3-2 win over England. Shortly after that World Cup, Seeler retired from international football, making his final appearance for West Germany against Hungary in September 1970. He played his last match for Hamburg in May, 1972.

Cast in bronze

However, even in his post-playing days, Seeler was never far from the game he loved. He successfully ran a clothing company and worked as a representative for a sporting goods manufacturer. He also served as president of his beloved HSV from 1995 to 1998.

A sculpture of a replica of Seeler's right foot, was unveiled in 2005 and stands in front of Hamburg's home ground, the Volksparkstadion.

Although he has now departed, in Hamburg and throughout Germany, Seeler will always be fondly remembered as "uns Uwe" (our Uwe).

Legendary German striker Uwe Seeler has died

This article was originally published in German

Jens Krepela
Jens Krepela Editor, reporter and author
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