Friedrich "Fritz" Walter (German pronunciation: [fʁɪt͡s ˈvaltɐ], audio (help·info); 31 October 1920 – 17 June 2002) was a German footballer who spent his entire senior career at 1. FC Kaiserslautern. He usually played as an attacking midfielder or inside forward. In his time with the German national team, he appeared in 61 games and scored 33 goals, and was captain of the team that won the 1954 FIFA World Cup.
Walter with Kaiserslautern in October 1956
|Full name||Friedrich Walter|
|Date of birth||31 October 1920|
|Place of birth||Kaiserslautern, Germany|
|Date of death||17 June 2002(aged 81)|
|Place of death||Enkenbach-Alsenborn, Germany|
|1929–1937||1. FC Kaiserslautern|
|1937–1959||1. FC Kaiserslautern||364||(357)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Life and careerEdit
Early club careerEdit
Walter was exposed to football early with his parents working at the 1. FC Kaiserslautern club restaurant. By 1928 he had joined the Kaiserslautern youth academy, and he made his first team debut at 17, continuing an association with the club that would be his only professional club.
International pro teams had repeatedly offered him hefty sums, but with support from his wife always declined in order to stay at home, to play for his home town, the national team and "Chef" (German for "boss") Herberger.
Walter was drafted into the armed forces in 1942, however, the end of the war found 24-year-old Walter in a Prisoner of War camp in Maramures in which he played with Hungarian and Slovakian guards. When the Soviets arrived they generally took all German prisoners back to Gulags in the Soviet Union. One of the Hungarian prison guards had seen Walter playing for Germany, and told them that Fritz was not German but from the Saar Territory. Walter would later call the match in question as the most important of his life as it spared him and his brother from a gulag sentence.
Return to GermanyEdit
Upon his return in 1945, Walter, who by now suffered from malaria, again played for Kaiserslautern, leading them to German championships in 1951 and 1953. Sepp Herberger recalled him to the national team in 1951, and he was named captain.
In 1956, after the crackdown by the Soviets of the Hungarian Uprising, the Hungarian football team were caught away from home, and for two years, Fritz managed their games and provided the financial backing and in small measure, paid them back for having saved him from deportation to the Soviet Union. Walter received his last cap during the semi-final against Sweden in the 1958 World Cup, suffering an injury which ended his international career, and he retired from football in 1959.
Later life and legacyEdit
The home stadium of FC Kaiserslautern was renamed the Fritz-Walter-Stadion in 1985.
Walter died in Enkenbach-Alsenborn on 17 June 2002, aged 81. It was his dream to see the World Cup 2006 in "his" town Kaiserslautern as the town had not been selected in the smaller tournament of 1974, but it was denied with his death. But on the fourth anniversary of his death on 17 June 2006, the United States played Italy in Kaiserslautern and a minute of silence was observed in his memory. Today people may visit the "Fritz Walter Haus" in the town of Enkenbach-Alsenborn approx. 20 km east of Kaiserslautern (first exit from Kaiserslautern on Bundesautobahn 6 direction Mannheim).
During the eighties and nineties, there was another successful Bundesliga striker called "Fritz Walter", who mainly played for VfB Stuttgart. Although he had no relationship to the great Kaiserslautern captain, sports fans jokingly called him "Fritz Walter junior".
In 2005, the Fritz Walter Medal, a series of annual awards which were established in his honour, and which are given by the German Football Association to youth footballers in Germany, was first awarded.
Walter's wife of five decades was Italia Bortoluzzi Walter, a woman from Belluno, Italy.
It was popular knowledge in Germany that Walter appeared to play better the worse the weather was, and so now the term "Fritz Walter's weather" is used to describe rainy weather conditions, often rendered with odd local dialect grammar "of Fritz, his weather". This is because he, as many other soldiers, had contracted malaria during the war, thus rendering him unable to stand the heat of the sun. The 1954 World Cup final was played in "Fritz Walter's weather" conditions.
|1. FC Kaiserslautern||1939–40||Gauliga Südwest/Mainhessen||15||30|
1. FC Kaiserslautern
- "Tributes for the 'Hero of Berne'". UEFA. 18 June 2002. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
- "Fritz WALTER – Germany's post-war hero". FIFA Classic Player. FIFA. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
- "FIFA World Cup Star 1954: Fritz Walter". ContiSoccerWorld. Continental. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
- "Fritz Walter – A Footballing Grandmaster : "I was there in 1942. I have seen you play against us. Hungary lost 3-5"". www.goaldentimes.org. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
- Arnhold, Matthias (14 January 2016). "Fritz Walter – Matches and Goals in Oberliga". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
- Stokkermans, Karel (14 January 2016). "Fritz Walter – Goals in International Matches". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
- The DFB Fritz Walter: Das Idol vom Betzenberg.
- "World Cup hero Walter dies". BBC Sport. British Broadcasting Corporation. 17 June 2002. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
- Dell'Apa, Frank (20 June 2006). "Immortal, beloved German icon still a presence". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
- "DFB verleiht Fritz-Walter-Medaille an Nachwuchsspieler" [DFB to award Fritz-Walter-Medal to youth players] (in German). German Football Association. 9 February 2004. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
- "Fritz Walters Hackentrick: Das vergessene Jahrhunderttor".
- "Fritz Walter Club-statistics". National Football Teams. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
- "Germany's post-war hero". FIFA. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
- "Golden Players take centre stage". UEFA. 29 November 2003. Archived from the original on 5 January 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
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