Until the emergence of Gerald Asamoah, William "Jimmy" Hartwig and Erwin Kostedde, the sons of black American soldiers, were the only two black players who had ever played for Germany (or West Germany as it was in their day).
Kostedde, at one point in his career with Borussia Dortmund, was only able to play in away games because of the Dortmund fans' racism. Similarly, Hartwig says he has suffered racism throughout his life, both on and off the pitch. "When I went to school the children hurled insults at me and called me 'little nigger boy'. The insults never stopped. I was always one of the best at football, but the parents of the children who were not so good would say to their children: 'Why do you want to play with him? He's a little backward and his father was a nigger."
Hartwig played for a number of clubs. At Hamburg he played alongside Kevin Keegan and won the Bundesliga, German Cup and European Cup.
"For me it was much easier to play club football. I achieved everything in my time with Hamburg. I was named best young player in Europe. The fans in Hamburg were absolutely fine, though I was shouted at in Munich and Kaiserslautern."
He won just two international caps, a period when the racism he was subjected to intensified. "When I played for the German national team abroad I was shouted at and asked: 'What do you want, you shit German?' And when I returned to Germany and played in the Bundesliga the fans shouted: 'Hey you nigger pig, hey you nigger pig.' I thought to myself: 'What am I? A shit German or a shit nigger?' "
Hartwig retired in 1988. He has recovered from prostate cancer and has set up a company which builds restaurants abroad serving traditional German food. He has also worked as a pundit for tabloid newspapers and television.
While welcoming Asamoah's debut, Hartwig believes that both he and Kostedde have been slowly written out of history. "I love this country," Hartwig said. "I was born here, my wife and children are here my friends are here, but despite all this, it hurts when I hear on the television stories about the first black national team player. Maybe that's because Asamoah is totally black.
"They have forgotten Erwin Kostedde and they have forgotten me. That is outrageous. Kostedde was a good man, but he was treated in such a way that his goodwill was sapped."Reuse content