Anyone over the age of forty who is a Manchester City supporter, or even a football fan, is bound to have heard of the legendary German footballer, Bert Trautmann.
Trautmann moved to Spain in 1990, and now lives in the region of Valencia. He occasionally goes on speaking engagements talking about his life in Germany, and his career that took him to England, playing for one of the biggest clubs at the time – Manchester City.
A number of ex-sportsmen have come to Spain to retire. Those who still enjoy sports have a wide choice of playing on some of the world’s finest golf courses to a range of water sports. And, of course, much of the time they get some excellent weather.
During our time in Spain I went along to one of Bert Trautmann’s discourses at the El Corazon Hotel, Rojales. I had been invited by a member of the Manchester City Football Club Official Supporters Club branch out there.
Bert Trautmann was awarded an OBE for his work for Anglo-German relations.
The Trautmann Foundation was set up by Bert Trautmann to promote sportsmanship and exchange programmes between young and amateur players in Germany and the United Kingdom.
Between 1949 and 1964 Trautmann played as goalkeeper for Manchester City over 540 times in all competitions. His testimonial in 1964 saw an official crowd attendance of 47,000.
His biography, written with Bert Trautmann’s full co-operation, includes dialogue that reflects the earthy vocabulary of soldiers and footballers.
I hope some readers got to watch The Bert Trautmann Story on the ‘Yesterday’ channel on 24th March 2011. The story is told by Bert himself, starting with his childhood, then moves on to becoming a German soldier at the age of 18, how he was taken prisoner by the British in 1945, and how he excelled as a goalkeeper in the German POW football team. He later signed for Manchester City. The rest, as they say, is history.
Football in Spain is obviously dominated by two major teams – FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. Each team has had periods of domination throughout history, from Real’s ‘Galacticos’ era with Zidane, Beckham and Ronaldo – to Barcelona’s current side which boasts huge talent. People who make short weekend trips to Spain will often visit one of these two major cities, and may even go to watch a football match whilst they are there. The atmosphere generated by the locals – especially during El Classico derby – is fantastic, an experience that the spectator will never forget.
Sadly since this article was written Bert Trautmann has died on the 19th July 2013, at the age of 89. He passed away in La Llosa, near Valencia. I’m sure football supporters around the world, whatever football club they follow, will be saddened over this news.