World Cup'74: W. Germany 0-1 E. Germany—Where Were You When Sparwasser Scored?

GuidoAnalyst IOctober 27, 2008

In 1974, the most politically sensitive match in world football took place—even today it remains unmatched in terms of political and national tension. The match was between Bündes-Republik Deutschland and the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR). The match in question became a political hot plate and every media organisation in the world descended on West Germany to cover it.

Over the years of their separate existence, the DDR (East Germany) and West Germany played each other only a handful of times. These two titans only ever met once in a big tournament, which was the '74 World Cup. Ironically enough, West Germany was the host nation that year as well.

During the years of the Cold War, football matches were regularly abused for political purposes, and this match between capitalism (West-Germany) and communism-socialism (East-Germany) was a prestigious one, and no exception was made.

Both German teams were drawn into a group with Australia and Chile, which gave the whole event an extra political charge. Not only would the socialist DDR players have to travel to the capitalist West, they would also face Chile, the nation that had defeated the Soviet Union in the qualifiers.

Chile was rocked by a coup de état in 1973, just as the nation was about to face off against the Soviet Union. With US help, the army overthrew President Allende. Out of protest against this coup and US intervention, the Soviets refused to play in the away leg in Chile. The match ended in a win for Chile, as Chile was the only team on the pitch.

In a bizarre twist, the referee allowed the match to start. Chile had no trouble scoring as there were no opponents on the pitch to prevent them. Kicking off proved to be more difficult, as there were no opponents. After about twenty minutes, the referee ended this farce and sent Chile to the '74 World Cup.

So the DDR were set up in a politically tough group, facing off against big brother West-Germany as well as Soviet-slayer Chile.

The West-Germans were deemed the favorites. They were the reigning European champions, and Bayern München had just replaced Ajax as Europe's finest club-side. They had the best players in Europe, the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Sepp Maier, Gerd Müller, Paul Breitner, Günther Netzer, Berti Vogts, and Uli Hoeness. According to West-German papers, the match would end in a walk-over for the home side.

The match itself ended quite different to how the media had predicted, as the underdogs shocked the home-side, snatching a 1-0 win in Hamburg's Volkspark Stadion. The only goal of the match was scored by 1.FC Magdeburg's midfielder Jürgen Sparwasser, and is still seen as a momentous occasion.

Sparwasser, in the dark shirt, scoring the most important goal of his life.


Sparwasser scored his goal in the 77th minute of the match, controlling a long pass with his chest, knocking the ball to the floor with his nose(!!) before coolly slotting the ball past West Germany's Sepp Maier. It proved to be the only goal, and it gave the DDR an unexpected but very welcome win over it's capitalistic brother-state.

In the eyes of the DDR regime, it was a victory over capitalism and the propaganda-machine immediately pounced on this golden opportunity. Sparwasser immediately promoted to hero of the nation, all because of this goal.

And while Americans and western Europeans remember where they were on the day J.F.K. was assassinated, "Ossies", or East-Germans, used to ask each other where they were when Sparwasser scored, just to illustrate the importance of the goal for an entire nation.

Seeing as Ostalgica, reminiscing the "good old days", is doing well in the former DDR, Sparwassers goal is still considered legendary by many older football fans. Even Sparwasser's defection to West-Germany in 1988 hasn't changed that.

So where were you when Sparwasser scored?