Relation(s)Italia Walter (Spouse), Dorothea Walter (Father), Ludwig Walter (Mother), Ottmar Walter (Brother)
Friedrich Walter Biography
Fritz Walter is a former German footballer, born on 31st October 1920 in Kaiserslautern.
Walter normally played as an attacking midfielder for the West German football team or as a withdrawn striker.
Walter was the captain of the West German side which won the 1954 FIFA World Cup in Switzerland.
Walter’s parents worked at the club restaurant of 1. FC Kaiserslautern.
He was struck by football from a very early age and joined the youth academy of his hometown club at the age of 8.
He would later make his first team debut aged just 17.
Walter made his debut for the West Germany national side in July 1940 under Sepp Herberger.
He scored a hat-trick playing as a forward in a straightforward 9-3 victory over Romania. The national team coach was greatly impressed by Walter and he would soon become his favorite player.
Rise to Glory
In April 1941, Germany beat Hungary 7-0 in a match in Koln which surprised everyone. In the return leg in Budapest, Hungary led 3-1 at halftime before a comeback inspired by a young Fritz Walter saw Germany win 5-3.
Walter later inspired his Kaiserslautern team to win the German Championships in 1951 and 1953. The side was later known as ‘Walter’s 11’ to recognize its most outstanding player.
Walter’s most telling contribution came during the 1954 FIFA World Cup. After defeating Turkey 4-1 and being dominated by Hungary 3-8, Germany needed to win a playoff against Turkey to go through. Fritz himself scored a goal as Turkey were easily beaten 7-2.
After the quarter-final win over Yugoslavia, Germany beat Austria 6-1 in the semifinals as Walter scored a couple of goals from the spot to set up a date with familiar foes Hungary in the final.
Later, in the final, Germany came back from 0-2 down in the first eight minutes to win 3-2.
After Hitler shot himself in 1945, Walter was one of the Germans taken as prisoner by the Russians. Being captured by Russia meant a sure agonizing death for Walter in Siberia.
However, he was saved when one of the guards recognized him during a football match played at the Ukrainian War Camp and Walters’ name was strangely removed from the names of the prisoners to be sent to Russia.
Fritz Walter was one of the few footballers to have remained with a single football club throughout their career. He played for his hometown club 1. FC Kaiserslautern throughout his professional career.
Clubs like FC Nancy and Atletico Madrid would offer him contracts worth significant amounts but Walter would not be tempted since the national coach offered him financial security and stability.
After leading his Kaiserslautern team to the German Championship in 1951, Sepp Herberger recalled Fritz Walter to the national team and named him the captain of the side.
Walter was the first footballer ever to earn the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the highest honour of the country.
The Betzenburg Stadium in Kaiserslautern was renamed Fritz Walter Stadium to honour him and was completely renovated ahead of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
From 2005, the German Football Association started awarding young footballers at different levels the Fritz Walter Award.
Initially, Walter retired from international football in 1956. He came back from retirement to play in the 1958 FIFA World Cup. Germany lost in the semi-finals to Sweden under controversial circumstances and that would be his final game. He ended his international career with 33 goals in 61 appearances.
In 1959, he retired from football after having played in 379 games for Kaiserslautern and having scored 306 goals.
After retirement, he led a life completely away from football. He worked with offenders, helping people to get back to normal lives after serving prison sentences.