Günter Netzer

Günter Netzer
Netzer in 2005
Personal information
Full name Günter Theodor Netzer
Date of birth (1944-09-14) 14 September 1944 (age 79)
Place of birth Mönchengladbach, Germany
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Position(s) Attacking midfielder
Youth career
1952–1963 1. FC Mönchengladbach
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1963–1973 Borussia Mönchengladbach 297 (108)
1973–1976 Real Madrid 85 (9)
1976–1977 Grasshopper Club Zürich 26 (3)
Total 408 (120)
International career
1965–1975 West Germany 37 (6)
Managerial career
1977–1985 Hamburger SV (general manager)
Medal record
Men's football
Representing  West Germany
FIFA World Cup
Winner 1974 West Germany
UEFA European Championship
Winner 1972 Belgium
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Günter Theodor Netzer (born 14 September 1944) is a German former professional football player, executive and pundit. He achieved great success in Germany with Borussia Mönchengladbach in the early 1970s and, after moving to Spain in 1973, with Real Madrid. A technically gifted playmaker, Netzer played as an attacking midfielder and is considered one of the greatest passers in the game's history.[1][2] He was voted German Footballer of the Year twice, in 1972 and 1973.[3]

Netzer was the general manager for Hamburger SV during much of the team's golden period from the late 1970s through the early 1980s, when the club won three league titles and the 1983 European Cup.

Club career[edit]

Borussia Mönchengladbach[edit]

Netzer, the son of a greengrocer,[4] played for 1. FC Mönchengladbach from the age of eight until 19 before switching to city rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach in 1963.[1] He scored on his debut against Rot-Weiß Oberhausen, and quickly established himself as a first team regular, helping the club win promotion to the Bundesliga in 1965.

Netzer played for Borussia, managed by Hennes Weisweiler, until 1973.[1] In his 230 Bundesliga games for them, he scored 82 goals.[5] The era also saw one of the most competitive rivalries in the Bundesliga's history between Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayern Munich. Bayern Munich had stars Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller, Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck, Paul Breitner and Sepp Maier on their side while Mönchengladbach had Berti Vogts, Herbert Wimmer, Jupp Heynckes, Rainer Bonhof and Netzer. When they achieved their first successes the average age of both teams was 21.

With Borussia Mönchengladbach he won the Bundesliga in 1970 and 1971 (the first Bundesliga club to win back-to-back championships), and the DFB-Pokal in 1973.[1] The final was a famous match against 1. FC Köln in which he started as a sub – it is said because he had told his manager of his intention to move to Spain after the season – and went onto the pitch during extra time on his own authority, simply telling the coach "I'll go and play now" whilst removing his tracksuit.[1][6] He then went on to score the winning goal three minutes later, with only his second possession of the ball.[1] By then Netzer had achieved a certain pop star-like popularity because of his good looks, flowing blond hair, and perceived rebel personality and playboy lifestyle. Netzer was voted German Footballer of the Year twice, in 1972 and 1973, by the country's football journalists.[3]

Netzer was a playmaker and is considered one of the best midfielders of all time, gaining a lot of attention with his long passes and pushes from deep within his own half of the pitch.[1] Apart from his superior ball skills, his natural authority made him the undisputed leader of his team.[1] As a player for Borussia Mönchengladbach, he enjoyed a lot of freedom from the management and the coach Hennes Weisweiler, even off the pitch.[1] On the field the way he orchestrated the team's midfield play earned him the nickname 'Karajan', after the conductor Herbert Von Karajan.

Real Madrid[edit]

Netzer signing autographs in 1975

When Johan Cruyff joined FC Barcelona in 1973, Real Madrid needed to respond in kind. So Santiago Bernabéu signed him and Paul Breitner a year later. Netzer was the first German player to play for the club.[7] He played in Spain until 1976, winning La Liga in 1975 and 1976 and the Copa del Rey in 1974 and 1975. After his three-year spell in the Spanish capital, Netzer joined Grasshopper Club Zürich, where in 1977 he finished his playing career.[1]

International career[edit]

Netzer made his debut for the West German national team in October 1965 in a friendly against Austria. He represented West Germany 37 times[8] from 1965 to 1975, scoring six goals (some from the penalty spot) and playing a vital role in the country's victory at UEFA Euro 1972. He also appeared briefly (for 21 minutes against East Germany) in the 1974 FIFA World Cup, during which time the only goal of the match was scored against his team. At the tournament, Wolfgang Overath was the central figure in Germany's midfield;[1] Netzer, despite being friends with Overath, considered the pair as not being able to play together effectively.[9] Although he did not play in the final, Netzer is nonetheless considered the first World Cup winner to, at the time of winning, play for a club that was based outside his country.

Managerial career[edit]

Netzer in 1979

After his career as a player Netzer offered to publish Hamburger SV's stadium magazine.[1][4] The president, Paul Benthien, agreed on the condition that he also became general manager.[4] Netzer spent eight successful years in Hamburg, during which time he completely transformed Hamburg's team, managed to sign famous coaches like Branko Zebec and later Ernst Happel, and led the club to three Bundesliga titles (1979, 1982, 1983).[4] In 1983, Hamburg reached the final of the European Cup. With Horst Hrubesch, Felix Magath and Manfred Kaltz, Hamburg pulled off one of the biggest upsets in European Cup history by beating a Juventus side packed with Italian players who had won the World Cup a year earlier and two star import players – Michel Platini and Zbigniew Boniek. The years with Günter Netzer are today considered the most successful period in Hamburg's history.[1]

Media businessman and football expert[edit]

After the end of his playing career, Netzer founded an advertising agency in Zürich, Switzerland, where he continues to live.[3] He also deals in TV rights and is currently executive director of the Swiss sports rights managing agency Infront Sports & Media AG, a partner company of the German Football Association.[1][6]

Apart from that, Netzer worked as a reporter and football pundit on TV. For his work with the German TV channel ARD and host Gerhard Delling, commenting on games of the German national team, both received the prestigious Adolf Grimme Award in 2000.[1][4]

Despite their frequent arguments on TV, which they have developed into a kind of iconic skit, Netzer and Delling are said to be close friends. Netzer was Delling's best man at his wedding in May 2003.[10][11]

It was the duo's harsh criticism of the German national side's poor performance that triggered Rudi Völler's famous eruption on 6 September 2003, immediately after the international match against Iceland. The then Bundestrainer (manager) harshly criticized Netzer, some considered it abusively, in a live interview after the goalless draw.[12]

Following the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Netzer announced he was leaving the ARD after 13 years.[11][12][13]

Netzer is married and has one daughter.[1][4] He lives in Switzerland and has Swiss citizenship, too.[14]

Career statistics[edit]

Appearances and goals by national team and year
National team Year Apps Goals
Germany 1965 2 0
1966 2 0
1967 2 0
1968 7 0
1970 3 1
1971 8 3
1972 7 2
1973 1 0
1974 3 0
1975 2 0
Total 37 6
Scores and results list Germany's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Netzer goal.
List of international goals scored by Günter Netzer
No. Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 22 November 1970 Athens, Greece  Greece 1–0 3–1 Friendly
2 12 June 1971 Karlsruhe, Germany  Albania 1–0 2–0 UEFA Euro 1972 qualifying
3 22 June 1971 Oslo, Norway  Norway 7–0 7–1 Friendly
4 8 September 1971 Hanover, Germany  Mexico 4–0 5–0 Friendly
5 29 April 1972 London, England  England 2–1 3–1 UEFA Euro 1972 qualifying
6 15 November 1972 Düsseldorf, Germany   Switzerland 4–0 5–1 Friendly


As player[edit]

Borussia Mönchengladbach[15]

Real Madrid[15]

West Germany[15]


As general manager[edit]

Hamburger SV


  1. ^ Shared with Gerd Müller


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Kops, Calle (14 September 2009). "Günter Netzer – Der "Rebell am Ball" wird 65". Deutsche Welle (in German). Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  2. ^ Whitney, Clark (23 September 2013). "20 Greatest Bundesliga Midfielders of All Time". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "ARD-Fußballexperte". ARD (in German). 3 May 2010. Archived from the original on 30 June 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Jungholt, Thorsten; Roettger, Knud-Philip (13 October 2002). "Netzer, der ewige Spielmacher". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  5. ^ Arnhold, Matthias (31 August 2012). "Günter Theodor Netzer - Matches and Goals in Bundesliga". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Günter Netzer feierte seinen 65. Geburtstag". Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). 17 September 2009. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  7. ^ Carotenuto, Angelo (29 June 2016). "Guenter Netzer: "Il vostro segreto si scoprirà ma Conte mi fa impazzire"" [Netzer: "We will discover your secret, but I go crazy for Conte"] (in Italian). Repubblica.it. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  8. ^ Arnhold, Matthias (13 March 2014). "Günter Netzer - International Appearances". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  9. ^ Röttgen, Kurt (29 April 2008). "Das albanische Grauen". Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). p. 2. Retrieved 6 July 2010.
  10. ^ "Delling heiratet, Netzer ist Trauzeuge". Hamburger Abendblatt (in German). 30 May 2003. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  11. ^ a b Praschl, Peter (10 July 2010). "Kein Geraunze mehr: Das Ende eines deutschen Traumpaars". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  12. ^ a b Krull, Patrick (8 July 2010). "Joachim Löw darf das Paradies nicht verlassen". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  13. ^ Hanfeld, Michael (12 July 2010). "Genug geredet". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  14. ^ Kern, Max (28 July 2017). "Legende eingebürgert: Günter Netzer (72) ist jetzt Schweizer". Blick (in Swiss High German). Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  15. ^ a b c d "Netzer: Gladbach's rebel genius". FIFA. Archived from the original on 8 September 2015. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
  16. ^ "Bundesliga Historie 1965/66" (in German). kicker.
  17. ^ "Bundesliga Historie 1966/67" (in German). kicker.
  18. ^ "Bundesliga Historie 1967/68" (in German). kicker.
  19. ^ "Bundesliga Historie 1968/69" (in German). kicker.
  20. ^ "Bundesliga Historie 1969/70" (in German). kicker.
  21. ^ "Bundesliga Historie 1970/71" (in German). kicker.
  22. ^ "Bundesliga Historie 1971/72" (in German). kicker.
  23. ^ "November 1972 - Netzer/Müller" (in German). Sportschau. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  24. ^ "März 1973 - Netzer" (in German). Sportschau. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  25. ^ "Eric Batty's World XI – The Seventies". Beyond The Last Man. 7 November 2013. Archived from the original on 5 July 2022. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  26. ^ "World Soccer's Selection of the 100 Greatest Footballers of All Time".
  27. ^ Stokkermans, Karel (23 December 2015). "World Soccer's Selection of the 100 Greatest Footballers of All Time". Retrieved 2 August 2017.

External links[edit]