German goalie Bert Trautmann was a man’s man, but a particularly contentious reason kept him from being welcomed with open arms when he signed with Manchester City in 1949.
And that reason was Trautmann had fought for Germany during World War II.
Trautmann was a German paratrooper fighting on the Russian front, but was captured by the British and interned at a prison camp in Britain in 1945.
Trautmann began playing soccer to pass the time at the prison camp and wowed enough onlookers to pick up a contract with St. Helen’s Town, and eventually Man City.
Man City ended up making its way to the FA Cup final in 1956, a game in which Trautman would receive a crunching collision with a striker while going up to intercept a cross.
The pain of the hit turned Trautman’s world to fog, but the German keeper stayed on the pitch and Man City won the match 3-1. Several days later Trautmann saw a doctor who told him that one of the vertebrae in his neck was badly broken, and that he was lucky to be alive.
“People talk about bravery,” Trautmann said. “But if I’d known my neck was broken I’d have been off like a shot.”
But you didn’t know, and you champed it out. And that makes you a badass, Trautmann.
Level of Badassity: Winston Churchill karate chopping a panther.