From Hitler Youth to FA Cup Legend
An astounding story of war and football - the first biography of Manchester City goalkeeper and former Hitler Youth star Bert Trautmann
He was the best goalkeeper I ever played against.' Bobby Charlton
Every football fan knows the legend of Bert Trautmann. Fifteen minutes from the end of the 1956 FA Cup Final, Trautmann – the goalkeeper for Manchester City – falls spectacularly mid-tackle. He continues to play on to the end of the game, ensuring Manchester City win the cup. An X-ray later reveals a broken neck.
But there is more to this legend than a plucky goalkeeper. Bert Trautmann was born Bernhardt Trautmann in Germany in 1923. Brought up in a country already in the grip of National Socialism, he joined the Hitler Youth at the age of ten and went to fight for the Vaterland when he was seventeen. Despite enduring inconceivable hardships in the name of war, Trautmann continued to believe wholeheartedly in the cause. Until one day he stumbled into enemy territory to be greeted by the words, ‘Fancy a cup of tea, Fritz?’
What follows is an extraordinary story of transformation. Bernhardt – a Nazi living in a POW camp in Cheshire – becomes Bert. From an amateur footballer working on a bomb disposal unit in Liverpool, to celebrated Manchester City goalkeeper adored by thousands, Catrine Clay charts Trautmann’s conversion from Hitler Youth star to all-England football hero, mirroring Europe’s own journey through the horrors of war to a fragile post-war peace.
“A truly remarkable story, uncovered with immense skill by Catrine Clay”
Miranda Seymour, Telegraph
“An extraordinary story”
Mail on Sunday
“Britain's best-loved German ... it's a remarkable story”
“[A] brilliant new biography”
Independent on Sunday
“A gripping story”
“It's the story of Trautmann the man rather than the footballer that makes Catrine Clay's biography so extraordinary...enthralling and uplifting.”
Simon Shaw, Mail on Sunday