Tuxedos were required for Germany’s first football international

April 4th, 2008 - 12:59 pm ICT by admin  

(Apr 5 is 100th anniversary)
Hamburg, April 4 (DPA) The invitation came by mail with only a few days’ notice, the train ticket on the platform before departure and the baggage included not only the football kit but a tuxedo as well. It was a trip into the unknown when 11 footballers left for Basel to play the first of now 800 international football matches for Germany April 5, 1908, against hosts Switzerland.

The Swiss won 5-3 that Sunday afternoon after both teams had sat together over a beer or two. The tuxedos were then donned for a post-match banquet.

“Every aspect of the banquet was splendid. The atmosphere simply splendid,” German football federation (DFB) official Horst Kubaseck wrote years later.

Looking at the match, he said “the forward line lacked faith in each other”.

But the defeat did not stop Germany in the long run from becoming a major power in the sport with three World Cup titles and three European crowns each.

Germany has been involved in some of the most memorable matches in football history: a 3-2 triumph over Hungary in the 1954 World Cup final, the 1966 final they lost 2-4 against England, the heroic battle with Italy they lost 3-4 in the 1970 semi-finals.

Germany also won the first penalty shoot-out at a World Cup, against France in the 1982 semis. Fourteen years later Germany also won the first major championship final decided by a Golden Goal, at Euro 1996 over the Czech Republic.

Franz Beckenbauer, Uwe Seeler, Fritz Walter, Gerd Mueller and Lothar Matthaeus are just some of the players who rose to international stardom in the white shirt and black shorts. Matthaeus is the most-capped German with 150 matches, Mueller leads the scoring with 68 goals in 62 matches.

Germany have won 457 of the 800 matches played so far, with 164 draws and 179 defeats. German teams scored 1,782 goals and conceded 965. In addition, an East German national team played 293 matches between 1952 and 1990 - famously beating West Germany 1-0 at the 1974 World Cup.

The biggest win was a 16-0 over Russia at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, the biggest defeat a 0-9 disaster against England in March 1909, Germany’s fourth international match. The first victory did not come until later in 1909 when the Swiss were beaten 1-0.

The first game the previous year came eight years after the DFB was founded. The selection was not based on performance but was rather made by regional criteria.

As a result, most players met for the first time in Basel’s Metropol hotel for “an international match of the best 11 players from Germany against the 11 best Swiss players”, according to the official match programme from the Swiss football association.

Kubaseck acted as coach while player Arthur Hiller was responsible for team tactics. The kits were distributed on the morning of the game day. Then the players were briefed to be at their best behaviour - at the banquet.

“The clothes inspection was at nine o’clock. At around 10 the Swiss gentlemen arrived to pick us up for an enjoyable trip through town. Afterwards… the chances for the upcoming game were discussed over a glass of beer,” said the official German report of the game.

The game took place in front of roughly 3,500 spectators at the stadium-like Landhof facility. Women who attended got a free bar of chocolate and spectators were told to refrain from making loud calls.

Fritz Becker opened the scoring for Germany early on but the Swiss turned the match in the first half en route to victory.

Becker, aged 19 at the time, later recalled this historic first goal for Germany.

“Our half-right (Fritz) Foerderer deflected a cross from (Gustav) Hensel. It would have sailed narrowly wide and the Swiss goalkeeper did not believe he had to act. But he underestimated my speed and I barely managed to get the ball into the net,” said Becker.

The team on that day also included Willy Baumgaertner from the SV 04 Dusseldorf club, who at 17 years and four months is still the youngest German to earn a cap.

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