Trautmann's Journey, by Catrine Clay

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The Independent Culture

He was known to the Manchester City faithful as Bert when he started playing in goal at Maine Road in 1949, but he was born Bernhard in Bremen in 1923. By the time he joined the Hitler Youth as a 10-year-old he was called Berni, while his comrades in the Luftwaffe knew him as Bernd.

Trautmann's extraordinary odyssey has been told before, but this revisiting is utterly compelling. Catrine Clay spent many hours talking to Trautmann, still pin-sharp at 86, and has fashioned her material into a minor masterpiece.

When the paratrooper, a veteran of the Eastern Front, Arnhem and D-Day but still only 22, arrived in Britain as a prisoner of war, he was overwhelmed by the kindness he received, and so began a love affair with Britain in general and Lancashire in particular, a love which was reciprocated.

His football career in England, including the 1956 FA Cup final when he famously played the last 16 minutes with a broken neck, occupies only a fifth of this book but, to paraphrase C L R James, "What does he know of football who only football knows?"

Published in hardback by Yellow Jersey, £16.99

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