Lothar Emmerich

Footballer defined by his performance for West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Lothar Emmerich, footballer and football coach: born Dortmund, Germany 29 November 1941; (two children); died Dortmund 14 August 2003.

Lothar Emmerich was a lofty, powerful outside-left who is best remembered in this country for the walk-on part he played on the greatest day in England's football history. He was in the West Germany team which lost 4-2 after extra time at Wembley in the World Cup final 37 summers ago - a match that defined Emmerich's football career.

Before that match, West Germany's coach, Helmut Schoen, had been under pressure to drop the Borussia Dortmund player. Despite scoring a wonder goal with a trademark rocket of a shot from a seemingly impossible angle against Spain at Villa Park in the group stages, Emmerich was seen in some quarters as a luxury. But Schoen viewed him as a potential match- winner, ignored the advice of the German press, and stuck by his man.

To an extent Emmerich lived down to his reputation as a fitful performer in the final on 30 July 1966, and he was a far-less effective figure than his opposite number, Alan Ball. Where Ball was a bundle of energy, and a non-stop source of anxiety for the German defence, Emmerich kept a lower profile. Yet it was Emmerich's fearsome shooting power which dragged his country back into the game when all seemed lost.

Moments before the end of 90 minutes, with England leading 2-1, Emmerich drove a free-kick into England's penalty area. The delivery was so ferocious that his team-mate Karl-Heinz Schnellinger was unable to get out of the way. The ricochet off his back eventually fell to Wolfgang Weber, whose shot took the game into extra time. But the force was with England, and Emmerich had to accept a runners-up medal. He had only just forced his way into the West Germany team in time for the tournament in England, on the back of a golden season for Dortmund in the Bundesliga. The final turned out to be his fifth and last appearance for his country.

In Germany, Emmerich's memory will be celebrated for that goal against Spain, one of only two he scored at international level. It is known and fondly recalled as one of the greatest goals ever scored by a German international.

Emmerich was born in Dortmund in 1941 and joined his local club Dorstfeld in 1960, from where he moved to Borussia Dortmund. His best moments with the club came in 1965, when the team won the German Cup, and 1966, when they beat Liverpool 2-1 in the European Cup-Winners' Cup Final at Hampden Park, Glasgow. He was one of the most popular players in Borussia Dortmund's history, and supporters knew him affectionately as "Emma". After leaving Borussia Dortmund, Emmerich played for the Belgian club VAC Beerschot. He was the Belgian league's top scorer in 1969.

Ian Callaghan, the former Liverpool player, came to know Emmerich at club and international level. He said:

 

He was a very quick player, one of the quickest, and he was a member of two exceptionally good sides. That Borussia Dortmund side he played in was one of the best in Europe, and West Germany were a very powerful side.

In later years, Emmerich took up coaching and then worked as a supporters' co-ordinator for Borussia Dortmund. When he was diagnosed with lung cancer in January this year, he vowed to beat the disease. Doctors had found the cancer in its early stages, and Emmerich believed chemotherapy would be successful. He said:

I've got all chances to be completely healthy again. You know Emma. He was always a fighter.

Alex Murphy

Comments