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Karl-Heinz Schnellinger (born 31 March 1939, in Düren) is a former German footballer who played as a defender.[1] An athletic and hard-tackling player, with a strong physique, he was nicknamed the "Volkswagen" for his continuity of performance, both in quantity and in quality, and for his versatility; indeed, although he was usually deployed as a full-back, he was capable of playing anywhere along the back, and could also play as a centre-back, as a sweeper, or even as a defensive midfielder.[2] In his prime he was usually considered[by whom?] one of the best and most complete leftbacks in the world in his era, rivaled only by Giacinto Facchetti, Nilton Santos and Silvio Marzolini.[3]

Karl-Heinz Schnellinger
Karl-Heinz Schnellinger.jpg
Schnellinger in 1968
Personal information
Full name Karl-Heinz Schnellinger
Date of birth (1939-03-31) 31 March 1939 (age 80)
Place of birth Düren, Rhine Province, Prussia, Germany
Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Playing position Left-back / Sweeper
Youth career
1949–1958 SG Düren 99
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1958–1963 1. FC Köln 84 (8)
1963–1964 AC Mantova 33 (2)
1964–1965 A.S. Roma 29 (1)
1965–1974 A.C. Milan 222 (0)
1974–1975 Tennis Borussia Berlin 19 (0)
Total 387 (13)
National team
1957 West Germany Amateur 1 (0)
1958–1971 West Germany 47 (1)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Club careerEdit

He won the German championship with 1. FC Köln in 1962, and was awarded the (German Footballer of the Year), performed superb in the World Cup and was subsequently named in the World Cup Dream-Team 11. His debut in the Serie A came in 1963, when Schnellinger left 1. FC Köln for A.C. Mantova, in a match against A.C. Milan which ended in a surprising 4–1 victory for A.C. Mantova. However, he played there only for one season, and was signed by A.S. Roma in 1964 when they won the Coppa Italia, and finally by A.C. Milan in 1965. Schnellinger was bought up together with Roma teammate Angelillo and Sormani. He played nine seasons with the Rossoneri, obtaining several successes both at the national and European level. He was one of the first successful German footballers abroad.

International careerEdit

He participated in his first 1958 World Cup in Sweden at the young age of 19, and went on to become one of the few players to play in 4 World Cups (1958, 1962, 1966, 1970).[4] He was renowned for his physical power, pace, and his winning mentality. His only international goal came in the last minute to draw 1–1 in the thrilling semi-final of the 1970 World Cup against Italy which later became known as the "Game of the Century" (leading to the famous German radio comment "Ausgerechnet Schnellinger!" – roughly: "Of all the players, it's Schnellinger" – referring to him being one of the two players of the German squad to be playing in the Italian Serie A, the other one being Helmut Haller). Italy eventually won 4–3 after extra time. In the previous round, late in the match against England, it was Schnellinger's cross that Uwe Seeler scored from with a backwards header that tied the score 2–2, a game West Germany won 3–2 after extra time. Schnellinger won his last cap in 1971.[5]


Schnellinger left A.C. Milan in 1974, and retired after a season back in his native Germany for Tennis Borussia Berlin.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

Today Schnellinger still lives in Milan's suburb of Segrate and works as a businessman.



  1. ^ "Karl-Heinz Schnellinger" (in German). Retrieved 11 February 2010.
  2. ^ "Karl Heinz SCHNELLINGER ("Panzer")" (in Italian). Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b "A.C. Milan Fall of Fame: Karl-Heinz Schnellinger". A.C. Milan. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  4. ^ Karl-Heinz SchnellingerFIFA competition record
  5. ^ Matthias Arnhold (4 December 2004). "Karl-Heinz Schnellinger – International Appearances". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  6. ^ Matthias Arnhold (18 April 2013). "Karl-Heinz Schnellinger – Matches and Goals in Bundesliga". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  7. ^ FIFA XI´s Matches – Full Info Archived 17 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine