RDA casting, RFA reinforced … And in the end, it is the reunited Germany team that won

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A year after the fall of the Wall, the RDA team has disappeared and its best members have joined the ranks of the FRG, crowned world champion a few months earlier.

Rome, July 8, 1990. The FRG raises its third World Cup after winning (1-0) against Argentina's Diego Maradona. West Germany coach Franz Beckenbauer knows that a last page has just been written and a new story will open soon. For eight months and the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, Germany is on the road to reunification. The GDR players, formerly rivals on the ground, will soon come to fill the ranks of the Mannschaft ("the team", in German).

For the "Kaiser" Beckenbauer – who just lifted the Jules Rimet Cup as a coach after playing it as a player sixteen years ago – it bodes well for the future. With the arrival of footballers as talented as Matthias Sammer or Andreas Thom, "our team will be invincible for years"he prophesies. For the East Germans, however, this brutal end marks a break. On the one hand, the lucky ones, who will seek glory and prosperity in the West, and on the other hand, those sentenced to galore away from the national team and the prestigious German championship, the Bundesliga.

The coronation at the Italian World Cup marked a turning point in Germany. "It was the first time since the Second World War that we were represented in an international competition by a unified selection", notes director Edgar Reitz for So Foot. If the players were all West Germans, "vsSome inhabitants of the new Landers of the East were already wondering if this trophy really belonged to them. In short, in 1990, immense joy overwhelmed the country. "

And some East German players were already thinking about the future unified team. "We still played in the decisive World Cup qualifying match against Austria on November 15, 1989 in Vienna, when a draw would have been enough to qualify for the World Cup in Italy. unfortunately lost the match (3-0) ", recalls the international Andreas Thom, contacted by franceinfo. "It was already clear to us that the GDR and the national team would no longer exist"he adds. The farewells will last almost a year. A slow agony, which ends on September 12, 1990 with the meeting Belgium-GDR, counting for the group 5 of the eliminations of Euro 92, in Brussels.

Ulf Kirsten, Eduard Geyer, GDR coach, and Rico Steinmann on their arrival in Vienna on 13 November 1989, before facing Austria in the 1990 World Cup qualifiers.
Ulf Kirsten, Eduard Geyer, RDA coach, and Rico Steinmann on their arrival in Vienna on 13 November 1989, before facing Austria in the 1990 World Cup qualifiers. (ROBERT JAGER / AFP)

That day, the world only talks about one thing, the signing of the Moscow Treaty, "who sign the departure of the Allies and the Soviet Union and gives back to Germany its sovereignty ", writes the journalist Julien Duez in an article that recounts this last match on the site dedicated footballski.fr. "In reality, everyone does not care about this meeting, but we could not cancel it", he says to franceinfo. Thomas Doll and Andreas Thom, then among the stars of the GDR, do not come. "I had a wound", today eludes the second. Rainer Ernst, another executive of the selection, is more direct and entrusts to So Foot do not have "no motivation to play yet for the GDR".

The East German coach, Eduard Geyer, painfully meets fourteen players: eleven holders, three substitutes. The other star, Matthias Sammer, after hesitating, is there. With two goals late in the game, he is the hero of this latest prestigious success (2-0). Eduard Geyer can be relieved, the GDR leaves, as he had wished before the meeting, "the football scene with dignity".

He did not want to throw this match in the trash. Matthias Sammer, he tried to avoid this meeting but no plane from Brussels to Stuttgart, so he stayed. In the end, he passed for the one who kept his word to the end.Julien Duez journalistat franceinfo

"Everything went so fast at the time, it was impressive, but with hindsight, these two goals fill me with pride", testifies the current consultant for Borussia Dortmund in an interview (in German) to the German National Federation.

Random draw, RFA and RDA had to compete in this pool of qualification for the 1992 European Championship. But football reunification could not differ from political reunification. "The aim was to quickly integrate East German football in the new Germany, and the two federations had planned a meeting called 'reunification' on 21 November 1990, but this did not happen", Aliinfo tells Aliinfo Ali Farhat, a journalist So Foot and DW, German international media. On 13 November, on the advice of the Minister of the Interior of Saxony, the East German Football Association cancels the meeting, "on the one hand because the Leipzig stadium was too old and, on the other hand, because there were security threats"he explains.

So there has never been a second confrontation and the record will remain forever favorable to the GDR, winning the only official match between East and West at the 1974 World Cup (1-0). Proof that East-German football has produced quality players. But after the fall of the Wall, few players "ossies" will join the ranks of the Mannschaft world champion. "Only the best have continued at the highest level", says Didier Chauvet at franceinfo. The author of the book The history of German football (L'Harmattan edition, 2015) also evokes "a small feeling of inferiority that has plummeted the blossoming of some".

The leading players of the East German championship, Matthias Sammer, Andreas Thom, Ulf Kirsten, Thomas Doll and others, were bought a pittance in the summer of 1990 by Western clubs. These latter "had a vision of the talents to recruit, players who were good could sign in the Bundesliga clubs, it was not difficult to convince them", recalls journalist Julien Duez. The lucrative aspect obviously played a role for these players, who had little money, especially "to do shopping" when traveling to the West with the GDR team, concedes Matthias Sammer. "We had low daily allowances"he slips. If it is one of the few who have benefited from this reunification, the majority of players from the former East Germany "soon found themselves in the second or third German division", observes Didier Chauvet.

Example: Jens Adler. This goalkeeper has not marked the history of German football by the quality of his performance but he will remain forever the last player to have worn the jersey of the RDA. "He played exactly 102 seconds against Belgium and did not touch the ball", notes Julien Duez. He never played in the Bundesliga, but admitted to keeping the jersey of this ultimate meeting in his closet. For those who did not "an extraordinary talent like Doll, Sammer or Kirsten", the road has been rougher, defender Stefan Boger, who has played a hundred games in the German elite. "Talent is good, it's beautiful. But there was no question of making the transition after the fall of communism", he admits Spiegel (in German).

Two and a half months after the meeting in Brussels on 19 December 1990, reunited Germany played its first match against Switzerland in Stuttgart. Matthias Sammer is the only former East German holder. A memory inevitably imperishable. "It was unbelievable to be allowed to play football in a country other than the GDR, suddenly a chapter came to an end, and I was part of the whole German team, it was incredibly impressive. I was tense and excited before the kickoff, but also full of impatience, he recalls for the German Football Federation. It was an honor to be able to play for this national team. As a kid, I dreamed of participating in a European Championship or a World Cup, and I do not know if the GDR would have been able to do it. " At the head of this German team, Berti Vogts, successor of Franz Beckenbauer, is responsible for organizing the integration of the four "new": Matthias Sammer, Andreas Thom, Ulf Kirsten and the goalkeeper Perry Brautigam.

At the time, we played in the Bundesliga for a few months, so we knew each other. It was a warm and friendly welcome. The integration was totally simple and uncomplicated. In sports, such a thing is easier to achieve!Andreas Thom, former German internationalat franceinfo

Andreas Thom even had the joy of becoming the first East German scorer of this reunified Germany, soon after coming into play at this historic meeting against the Swiss neighbor. "It was very beautiful and very moving"he recalls soberly. "Doverall, the integration went well, " says journalist Ali Farhat. "The German federation has always paid great attention to it," recognizes Matthias Sammer. "The integration of footballers has not been very complicated, like that of the German society as a whole", supports the specialist Didier Chauvet.

Matthias Sammer and Ulf Kirsten, former GDR players who have managed to merge with the reunited Germany team. Here during the quarter-final against Bulgaria at the 1994 World Cup in the United States.
Matthias Sammer and Ulf Kirsten, former RDA players who have managed to blend into the reunited Germany team. Here during the quarter-final against Bulgaria at the 1994 World Cup in the United States. (OLIVER BERG / DPA / AFP)

There were no big differences between the two selections, even though the RDA players were officially amateurs. "They all had a job in the army, in the police … Their bosses were accommodating for their scheduleExplains the journalist Julien Duez. But there was no political dimension, they were not representatives of socialism. " The gap between the two teams was mostly mental, according to Matthias Sammer.

There were excellent footballers and we also had a very good training system. But what made us fail is our mentality. In the selection of the GDR, we did not believe that we could follow the great nations.Matthias Sammer, former German internationalat the German Football Federation

The former Borussia Dortmund player has a clear memory of the process that allowed him to break free from the reunited team. "As men, nWe are shaped by our origins. Berti Vogts has accused us, especially me, of being too closed. He probably felt this reluctance as a sign of mistrust, as a sign that we would not feel very comfortable in the national team. This situation lasted two and a half years "he recalls. In 1993, he and Berti Vogts chat extensively during a tour of the United States, a year before the American World Cup.

"While we were walking on the beach in Miami, Florida, I told him about our past and why we could not be as open as he wanted, it was a man-to-man conversation. was a turning point in my career as a national team ", he reports to the German federation. The prophecy of Franz Beckenbauer is not realized immediately, since Germany fails, to the surprise, in the final of Euro 1992 against a last-minute guest, Denmark. Then the Mannschaft is out in the quarterfinals of the 1994 World Cup by Bulgaria – the one that deprived the team of France of the trip overseas a few months earlier.

But after these two failures, German players will triumph in the summer of 1996, in England, to afford a third continental title, the first for the reunited Germany team. The demonstration of strength of this collective will even allow Matthias Sammer to obtain, a few months later, the supreme individual distinction: the Golden Ball. A strong symbol for the ex-prodigy of the GDR. Enough to reinforce the famous words uttered six years earlier by the English footballer Gary Lineker and which have since served as a proverb: "And in the end, it's the Germans who win."

Matthias Sammer hovered over Euro 96 in England (here in Germany-Croatia). Sacred with the Mannschaft, the former player of the GDR will win in December 1996 the Golden Ball rewarding the best European player of the year.
Matthias Sammer hovered over the Euro 96 in England (here at Germany-Croatia). Sacred with the Mannschaft, the former player of the GDR will win in December 1996 the Golden Ball rewarding the best European player of the year. (DPA / AFP)



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