Tor! The Story of German Football
does exactly "what it says on the tin". As the author explains, his aim was to write an entertaining history of the German game. He has certainly achieved his goal, or "tor" as they would say in Germany. Hesse-Lichtenberger sets out to prove that football in Germany is not necessarily the efficient, predictable machine that those of us believing in the German stereotype might think. Again, he succeeds. From the foundation of the game to the present day (and dare I mention the historic 5-1 defeat at the hands of the English in Munich in September 2001), the narrative finds plenty of room to include the quirky, amusing and unexpected. The seemingly curious names of many German club sides are dissected, while the fact that the national side managed to win the 1954 World Cup before the advent of the first professional national league only serves to amaze. The author proclaims his belief that it is people who shape events, and misses no opportunity to investigate the diverse personalities who have made the German game what it is, from the obsession of Herberger to the maverick brilliance of Netzer. The upshot is a wonderfully colourful history, and one that will no doubt surprise even most the avid of Europhile football followers. The latest in the line of recent books in English on European football, Tor!
, like a number of German teams of the past, is a clear winner. --Trevor Crowe
The first comprehensive history of German football in English, Tor! traces Germany's amazing success on the field throughout the turbulent politics of the 20th century. Germany did not have professional players or a national league until the 1960s, yet it became one of the most successful football nations in the world. Tor! (Goal!) traces the extraordinary story of Germany?s club and international football, from the days when it was regarded as a dangerously foreign pastime, through the horrors of the Nazi years to postwar triumphs and the crisis of the new century. Tor! challenges the myth that German football is?predictable? or?efficient? and brings to life the fascinating array of characters who shaped it: the betrayed pioneer Walther Bensemann; the enigmatic genius Sepp Herberger; the all-conquering Franz Beckenbauer; the modern misfit Lothar Matthaus. And even the radio commentator Herbert Zimmermann, whose ecstatic cries of?Tor!? greeted the winning goal in the 1954 World Cup final and helped change a whole nation?s view of itself.