A mark of the esteem in which Schon was held, it provided him with an opportunity to express genuine admiration for the virtues of English football. "As a small boy I knew about the game in England and matches against them have been among the most important events of my career," he said.
By that time Schon's experience encompassed three matches that figure prominently in the football lore of both countries.
1966: 'Lunatic' gamble reaps reward
Wembley: 30 July 1966 - World Cup Final. England 4 West Germany 2 (after extra-time).
That England had never lost to the Germans in 36 years of international competition and conceded only one goal in reaching the final left just the doubt raised by Alf Ramsey's decision to omit Jimmy Greaves, who had been a grave disappoint- ment in the group games before dropping out through injury. Not without one of the greatest goal-scorers in history, surely! Considered lunacy in some quarters, a brave but rash move in others, it did not surprise the other members of the squad.
Looking back many years later, Bobby Charlton said: "I had tremendous sympathy for Jimmy when Alf announced the team, but I could understand the thinking. When Geoff Hurst came in against Argentina, everything seemed to slot into place. He hit it off with Roger Hunt, who was always a certainty in my mind, and showed an excellent understanding with the other West Ham lads, Bobby Moore and Martin Peters."
In Germany's camp, Helmut Schon, too, had reached a decision - one that involved his most talented player, the 21-year old Franz Beckenbauer. Instead of being allowed to exploit the skill that marked him as one of the game's stars, Beckenbauer was ordered to close down Bobby Charlton. "It was a gamble to use our most influential player in a negative role," Schon admitted, "but Franz was such a marvellous talent that I felt he could still make attacks for us."
The effect on England proved negligible for a while, but in the 13th minute suddenly they found themselves a goal behind. Jumping for a centre, Ray Wilson made what was probably his first serious mistake of the tournament, heading the ball straight to Helmut Haller, who sent it past Gordon Banks. England's supporters were reassured six minutes later when Hurst met Moore's free-kick with a flawless header. With 13 minutes left to play, it looked as though England had their hands on the Jules Rimet trophy. A shot from Hurst, a deflection across the German goal, Peters the scorer. Then West Germany's last-minute equaliser, the drama of extra-time. "You've won it once, now go out and win again," Ramsey said. Then Hurst's clinching goal. Ramsey remained in his seat. "Sit down," he told the England trainer, Harold Shepherdson, "you are making the place look untidy."
ENGLAND: Banks (Leicester); Cohen (Fulham), Wilson (Huddersfield), Stiles (Manchester Utd), J Charlton (Leeds), Moore (West Ham), Ball (Blackpool), Hurst (West Ham), B Charlton (Manchester Utd), Hunt (Liverpool), Peters (West Ham).
WEST GERMANY: Tilkowski; Hottges, Schulz, Weber, Schnellinger, Haller, Beckenbauer, Overath,Seeler, Held, Emmerich.
1970: Banks' withdrawal tips balance
Leon, Mexico: 14 June 1970 - World Cup quarter-final. England 2 West Germany 3 (after extra-time)
Shortly before a match that would bring West Germany revenge for four years earlier, England's goalkeeper, Gordon Banks, collapsed in a team meeting. Taken ill the previous day, he had improved enough overnight to do a little light practice but now it was obvious to Alf Ramsey that he would have to be replaced.
With less than an hour to go before England departed for the stadium, Peter Bonetti learned that he was about to play in a World Cup for the first time. None of the team had any doubts about his ability but the uneasiness felt over Banks' absence was understandable. A thrilling save to thwart Pele in a group match against Brazil had confirmed that his gifts of agility and handling were still without equal in the game, so England's confidence was bound to be affected. To many eyes, the England team of 1970 was an improvement on the 1966 model. Alan Mullery and Martin Peters gave them a comfortable lead and with a little more than 20 minutes to play they seemed set for the semi-finals.
It was then that Schon replaced Libuda with Grabowski, who had established a reputation for being the most influential substitute in the tournament. Inspired by his example, the Germans began to spread alarm in England's defence and Beckenbauer brought them back into the game with a shot that sneaked beneath Bonetti's dive. Fate was crowding in.
The controversial substitution of Colin Bell for Bobby Charlton followed immediately (on the flight back to London two days later Ramsey apologised to Charlton for bringing him off in what was the last match of a great international career) and soon Norman Hunter was on for Peters. Seeing this, Jack Charlton left his seat in the stands and made for the nearest exit. "Nothing had gone right for Leeds that season so when Norman came into the game it was a bad omen," he said. Unable to watch any longer he wandered around outside the stadium until the game was over.
Hunter had only been out there a few seconds when the Germans drew level through Seeler, whose looping header caught Bonetti in no-man's land to set up extra-time. Long after Gerd Muller's goal finished off England, Ramsey could be found sitting disconsolately in a small motel chalet, still in his tracksuit and sipping champagne. "Of all the players to lose we had to lose Gordon," he muttered.
ENGLAND: Bonetti (Chelsea); Newton (Everton), Cooper (Leeds), Mullery (Spurs), Labone (Everton), Moore (West Ham), Lee (Manchester City), Ball (Everton), Charlton (Manchester Utd), Hurst (West Ham), Peters (Spurs). Substitutes: Bell (Manchester City) for Charlton, Hunter (Leeds) for Peters.
WEST GERMANY: Maier; Vogts, Schnellinger, Fitchel, Hottges, Beckenbauer, Seeler, Libuda, Overath, Muller, Lohr.
1972: Beckenbauer's men unstoppable
Wembley: 29 April 1972 - European Championship quarter-final, first leg. England 1 West Germany 3.
Sitting in West Germany's dressing room before the kick-off, Franz Beckenbauer doubted whether victory was possible. "England appeared to have such a good team while we were rebuilding," he said.
"We were all very nervous and of course there was the memory of losing at Wembley in 1966. But it turned out to be one of the great performances in our history."
The nervousness felt by Alf Ramsey centred on the absence of his centre- half, Roy McFarland of Derby County, who was withdrawn from the match by Brian Clough because of an injury. (When McFarland turned out in a First Division game for Derby two days afterwards, Ramsey was furious).
Left without a player of international experience in McFarland's position, Ramsey brought Hunter in alongside Moore, but most of the damage to England's defence was caused by Gunter Netzer.
The tall, blond midfielder was not the most reliable of players but at that time he was inspirational in shaping West Germany's attacks in a way that was beyond most of his footballing contemporaries.
The game had moved on from 1970 and England could not cope with the development. "They seemed to have stood still in time," Helmut Schon, the German coach, said. "And were no longing producing great players like Charlton. Of course they gave us a fight but we were far superior technically."
Although Francis Lee's equaliser after Uli Honess had put the Germans ahead raised England's hopes, they were always struggling to contain Netzer, finding his wile an insurmountable problem.
Netzer converted a penalty given away by Moore to put the Germans ahead again and Gerd Muller's late goal left England with a mountain to climb in the second leg. McFarland was back for the match in Berlin but England went out as the result of a 0-0 draw.
Wembley turned out to be the cradle of West Germany's finest team. They went on to defeat the Soviet Union in the final of that championship and Schon's reputation was assured two years later in Munich by a World Cup final victory over the Netherlands in the 1974 World Cup final.
ENGLAND: Banks (Stoke); Madeley (Leeds), Hughes (Liverpool), Bell (Manchester City), Moore (West Ham), Hunter (Leeds), Lee (Manchester City), Ball (Arsenal), Chivers (Spurs), Hurst (West Ham), Peters (Spurs).
WEST GERMANY: Maier; Hottges, Breitner, Wimmer, Schwarzenbeck, Beckenbauer, Grabowski, Honess, Muller, Netzer, Held.
1990: Robson pays the ultimate penalty
Turin: 4 July 1990 - World Cup semi-final. England 1 West Germany 1 (after extra-time and penalties).
After living dangerously in the worst World Cup on record, lucky to get past Belgium and saved from humiliation against Cameroon by Gary Lineker's penalties, England found themselves within one match of the 1990 World Cup Final. Again they were up against the Germans, who now had Franz Beckenbauer as their coach.
Bobby Robson's team had not got that far without coming under heavy criticism at home and falling out with football writers who had questioned their ability and commitment. It was a pretty miserable atmosphere that some of us came across when arriving for group games in Sardinia, and nothing much had improved by the time England reached the mainland.
Nobody outside the England camp imagined much of an improvement, but with Paul Gascoigne coming on in the game and the introduction of David Platt as an auxiliary attacker, things began to happen. Almost out of nowhere, they were in Turin and renewing their historical rivalry with the Germans.
Standing on the touchline, a fashion that would be taken up by numerous other coaches, Beckenbauer's hope of becoming the only man other than Mario Zagallo of Brazil to win the World Cup both as a player and manager was clearly under threat when England settled down to play their best football of the tournament. At last there were clear signs of togetherness, and it enabled them to overcome the blow of losing a goal when Andy Brehme's free kick was deflected past Peter Shilton.
Fearing Lineker's predatory instinct, the Germans had gone deeply into means of containing him but were in disarray when he spun clear of markers to equalise 10 minutes from the end of normal time.
Knowing that a second booking had ruled him out of the final whatever the outcome, Gascoigne tears into it, and yet again England and West Germany went into extra-time.
The unsatisfactory if necessary settlement of the penalty shoot-out that followed could only be described as high drama. Lineker, Peter Beardsley and Platt succeeded from the spot but so did the Germans. Stuart Pearce's penalty against Spain last Saturday inevitably recalled his miss in Turin, and when Chris Waddle blazed over the bar England were out.
It was the end for Bobby Robson as the matches against West Germany in 1972 had, more or less, signalled the end of Alf Ramsey's international career.
ENGLAND: Shilton (Derby); Parker (Queen's Park Rangers), Walker (Nottingham Forest), Wright (Derby), Butcher (Rangers), Pearce (Nottingham Forest), Waddle (Marseille), Gascoigne (Tottenham), Platt (Aston Villa), Beardsley (Tottenham), Lineker (Tottenham).
WEST GERMANY: Illgner; Buchwald, Kohler, Augenthaler, Brehme, Hassler, Matthaus, Berthold, Thon, Voller, Klinsmann.
ENGLAND v GERMANY:
THE COMPLETE RECORD
1930 Berlin (friendly)
Germany 3 England 3
1935 Tottenham (friendly)
England 3 Germany 0
1938 Berlin (friendly)
Germany 3 England 6
1954 Wembley (friendly)
England 3 West Germany 1
1956 Berlin (friendly)
West Germany 1 England 3
1963 Leipzig (friendly)
East Germany 1 England 2
1965 Nuremberg (friendly)
West Germany 0 England 1
1966 Wembley (friendly)
England 1 West Germany 0
1966 Wembley (World Cup final)
England 4 West Germany 2 (aet)
1968 Hanover (friendly)
West Germany 1 England 0
1970 Leon (World Cup q-final)
England 2 West Germany 3 (aet)
1970 Wembley (friendly)
England 3 East Germany 1
1972 Wembley (Euro Champ)
England 1 West Germany 3
1972 Berlin (Euro Champ)
West Germany 0 England 0
1974 Leipzig (friendly)
East Germany 1 England 1
1975 Wembley (friendly)
England 2 West Germany 0
1978 Munich (friendly)
West Germany 2 England 1
1982 Madrid (World Cup)
England 0 West Germany 0
1982 Wembley (friendly)
England 1 West Germany 2
1984 Wembley (friendly)
England 1 East Germany 0
1985 Mexico City (friendly)
England 3 West Germany 0
1987 Dusseldorf (friendly)
West Germany 3 England 1
1990 Turin (World Cup semi-final)
England 1 West Germany 1 (aet)
West Germany won 4-3 on pens)
1991 Wembley (friendly)
England 0 Germany 1
1993 Detroit (US Cup)
England 1 Germany 2Reuse content