The life of Bert Trautmann: Broken neck, Prisoner of War, Man City legend

1 Comment

Today the sad news arrived that legendary goalkeeper Bert Trautmann has passed away.

The Manchester City legend died at the age of 89, after one of the most encapsulating careers soccer has ever seen.

Trautmann was a German paratrooper who was captured by British forces and became Prisoner of War.

His intriguing and incredible story starts there.

Trautmann made 545 appearances for City between 1949 and 1964 after winning over a nation with his brilliance and bravery, but the German soldier faced fierce opposition when City first signed him, as over 20,000 people signed a petition against him playing for the English club.

However Trautmann’s status as one of the bravest goalkeepers in soccer history still remains today. That’s all because of one brutal moment during the 1956 FA Cup final at Wembley.

In the second half, Trautmann dove bravely at the feet of Birmingham City’s Peter Murphy but was hit hard by the impact. However the German ‘keeper played on for the final 16 minutes of the game… with a broken neck. City won the FA Cup and it’s gone down in history as a day that belonged to Trautmann.

On that day he was immortalized into British sporting history.

Trautmann’s heroics won over his doubters and despite being German, he claimed in later life to be very proud of his time in the UK. “When people ask me about life, I say my education began when I got to England. I learnt about humanity, tolerance and forgiveness.”

source:
Trautmann was written into soccer folklore, after playing on despite breaking his neck in the 1956 FA Cup final.

Despite people having to show a lot of forgiveness to Trautmann when he began his soccer career in England, he soon won them over with one virtuoso display after another. After soccer Trautmann became the first German ambassador to the UK following the second World War and was given an OBE for “promoting Anglo-German understanding through football.”

After that he travelled the world and coached in countries such as Burma and Pakistan, but England always remained close to his heart and he was a fan of Manchester City and attended games in recent years before his health deteriorated.

Personally, growing up and playing the game in England, you would often hear references to Trautmann’s bravery from aging coaches. “What are you crying about a scrapped knee for? There was a goalkeeper who once played with a broken neck, get up.”

Something along those lines often cropped up when youngsters feigned injury or over-reacted on the pitch. Trautmann’s legend lives on amongst many generations.

But even though his life has now come to an end, the soccer world respects his bravery on the field. Trautmann often frustratedly referred to himself as the ‘goalkeeper who broke his neck.’ He will never be forgotten in the British Isles and further afield for that.

Yet Trautmann was much more than that, as the incredible story of his life portrays.

Milan reportedly meeting with Mendes re: Costa, Sanches, Falcao

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

AC Milan’s big summer could get downright massive, according to a sensational report out of Italy.

It’d be fair to assume some think it already has been, given the captures of Leonardo Bonucci, Andre Silva, Mateo Musacchio, Franck Kessie, Ricardo Rodriguez, Hakan Çalhanoğlu, and Lucas Biglia.

Right?

[ MORE: Dom Dwyer traded ]

Well, Sky Sports in Italy is reporting that super agent Jorge Mendes is meeting with i Rossoneri regarding not one but three of his clients, each of whom is well-known by European soccer fans.

The biggest name is Diego Costa, who would likely be gone from Chelsea already if Atletico Madrid wasn’t under a transfer ban.

The report also names AS Monaco striker Radamel Falcao and Bayern Munich youngster Renato Sanches, who was considered one of the top summer transfers this time last year.

The 31-year-old Falcao scored 30 goals for Moncao in his return from the Premier League, while Sanches had this to say about a potential move away from the Allianz Arena:

“I’m young, I have to play a lot. I think the chance to do so is greater in Milan than in Munich.

“I want to play more consistently and [a move to] AC Milan is a very interesting option. If the two clubs reach an agreement, I would be happy to join the Rossoneri.”

Milan is participating in the Europa League this year in addition to Serie A, and already has terrific depth to take a chance at winning both.

Dom Dwyer traded to Orlando City for hefty allocation money

Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dom Dwyer is heading back to Orlando City in exchange for money.

By MLS terms, it’s a lot of cash.

Sporting KC will receive a total of $1.6 million in allocation money for the USMNT striker, and Dwyer returns to a club which saw him score 15 goals in 13 loan appearances in 2013.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up? ] 

The England-born 26-year-old had those gaudy numbers when Orlando was still in then-USL PRO (now just USL).

Dwyer has 57 goals in 128 MLS appearances, including a career-high 22 in 2014. His departure from KC raises questions about their plans for to fill his shoes, and some are suggesting that Krisztian Nemeth could return to the club from Al-Gharafa.

And down in Orlando, could Dwyer’s arrival mean the sale of Canadian striker Cyle Larin? The prolific youngster ran afoul of the law earlier this season, and perhaps his departure will be hastened with most leagues in the world still preparing for their seasons.

Plus, the move now takes Dwyer away from the city of his wife’s place of employment. Sydney Leroux-Dwyer helps the attack at FC Kansas City, where she has three goals and an assist in 15 games this season.

What would Gold Cup win mean for Bruce Arena’s future?

Getty Images
1 Comment

The U.S. face Jamaica in the 2017 Gold Cup final in Santa Clara, Calif. on Wednesday and winning this competition would be very significant for the USMNT and head coach Bruce Arena.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up?

This is much more than a second-tier tournament for the U.S.

Arena arrived in November 2016, just days after Jurgen Klinsmann was fired as USMNT head coach following five years of ups and downs which yielded one Gold Cup (2013) a Round of 16 spot at the 2014 World Cup and a semifinal appearance at the 2016 Copa America Centenario. The downs were too numerous to mention.

In his 13 games so far, Arena has yet to lose in his second spell in charge of the USMNT.

Sure, plenty of those games have been friendlies, winnable World Cup qualifiers (points on the road in Honduras and Mexico were huge) and Gold Cup group games, but he’s still managed his squad exceptionally well and has put both himself and his players in a much more positive frame of mind heading into a big 12 months.

If Arena leads the U.S. to Gold Cup glory on Wednesday, it would not doubt prove U.S. Soccer correct in hiring him and turning around the fortunes of the program which seemed riddled with infighting and anguish under Klinsmann.

Arena is a straight talker, we all know that, and the Brooklyn native is feeding off his vast experience in MLS and from his first stint in charge of the the U.S. from 1998-2006. The 65-year-old is a consummate man-manager, the Sir Alex Ferguson of the U.S. soccer scene if you will, and Arena has already fostered a strong team spirit despite having a huge player pool and almost three separate squads to juggle over the past seven months.

Sure, the European contingent from the U.S is missing for the Gold Cup and so are plenty of stars from Mexico, Costa Rica and other nations but on home soil the U.S. has got by shaky defensive displays to breeze into the final. The USMNT was in a similar situation in the last Gold Cup and didn’t handle it well.

Arena has juggled the demands of his senior players, promising youngster and certain situations (think of the tactical and personnel switches at the Azteca in June) admirably but he knows his strongest team and sticks to it when crunch time arrives.

The U.S. are the heavy favorites against the Reggae Boyz but we all know what Jamaica is capable of after they beat Klinsmann’s U.S. side 2-1 in the 2015 Gold Cup semifinal to hammer another considerable nail into his fast assembling U.S. Soccer coffin.

Arena has a contract through the end of the 2018 World Cup in Russia next summer and although the U.S. still has to qualify for the tournament, if these positive results continue then maybe Arena is the long-term answer for Sunil Gulati and Co.

First up, he has to win the Gold Cup. Secondly, he has to guide the U.S. to the World Cup. And then if he excels in Russia next summer (another Round of 16 berth, or better, would be a great success) then who knows what’s next for Arena?

Everyone agreed he was the smart hire with the USMNT in turmoil back in November but nobody saw it going this smoothly.

Kudos to Arena for his understated, straight-forward approach which is exactly what the USMNT need right now, and possibly for many years to come.

Bayern defender Juan Bernat out weeks after ankle surgery

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich defender Juan Bernat has been ruled out for several weeks after undergoing surgery on his left ankle.

[ MORE: Man United’s transfer plans

Bayern says the 24-year-old Bernat suffered the injury last Saturday in a friendly game against Milan in Shanghai, and that he underwent surgery in Munich on Monday.

Bernat, who joined Bayern from Valencia in 2014, has played in 65 Bundesliga games for the side, winning the league in each of his three seasons. He has made seven appearances for Spain.