World Cup 1986: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

Captain on a Farewell Tour

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After hosting the tournament for the first time in 1970, the 1986 World Cup was the second time the event had been held on Mexican soil. Columbia was actually originally chosen to organise the finals but the South American country had to hand them back at short notice because of its insurmountable difficulties.
Mexico became more than just a substitute. Having won the World Cup back in 1978, Argentina proceeded to take the title for a second time. Germany knocked out France in the semifinals for the second time in succession. Germany again failed at the last stage for the second time on the trot. Captain Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s dream of winning the World Cup was over once and for all.Karl-Heinz Rummenigge hails from Lippstadt and was born on 25 September 1955. The little “Kalle” with red cheeks committed himself to playing football when still only a child and became a member of Borussia Lippstadt. The son of a toolmaker wanted, as did his brothers Michael and Wolfgang and later his nephew, Marco, to become a professional footballer. Rummenigge prepared himself for his career in Lippstadt from 1963 to 1974. He dropped out of a bank traineeship and went off to join coach Dettmar Cramer at Bayern Munich.

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Karl-Heinz Rummenigge scores the winning goal for Bayern Munich against Brunswick at Munich’s Olympic Stadium in 1980. On the ground goalkeeper Hain and Hollmann. (Photo: Rauchensteiner/Augenklick)
At the time the club had six current World Cup winners (Maier, Schwarzenbeck, Beckenbauer, Uli Hoeneß, Breitner, Müller) in its ranks. The 18-year-old youngster had to take a lot of stick in the shark infested pool of players. They called the then somewhat naive Rummenigge, “red cheeks” because of his red face and this was then adapted to “Little Red Riding Hood”. Coach Udo Lattek even coined a totally new nickname for him – “Rummelfliege”. A worried Bayern captain, Franz Beckenbauer, even asked: “What are we going to do with him?” And he allegedly provided the answer at the same time. “He’ll never make it.”Great World Cup player but never a World Cup winner

Franz was wrong. The blonde haired Rummenigge was to become a German international two years later and was a member of the 1980 European Championship winning team. Between 1976 and 1986 Rummenigge amassed a total of 95 international caps and 45 goals. As a club player he appeared in 310 games (162 goals) for Bayern, 64 games (24) for Inter Milan and 50 games (34) for Servette Geneva. “Kalle” collected titles wherever he went. But Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is missing the one achievement that would have rounded off the father of five’s career in style. Rummenigge never won a World Cup winners medal.

World Cup statistics show him as having taken part in the 1978, 1982 and 1986 finals. During this period he appeared in 19 World Cup matches where he chalked up 9 goals. But it was not enough to secure the greatest triumph even though he came really close in 1986. The brains behind the German team was none other than Rummenigge’s former critic, Beckenbauer. He took on the role of team manager when replacing the former national coach Jupp Derwall in 1984. German football’s hopes rested on the shoulders of the unknown quantity in the coaching side of the game. Many fans believed, Beckenbauer would, like he did as a player in 1974 – now, with the luck of a genius, transform a bunch of egoists into a team in 1986. He succeeded and led a team that was generally considered to be no more than average into the final in Mexico. In the end the tournament came four years too early for “Kaiser” Franz and his side. Beckenbauer appeared to have known just how difficult the task was going to be before the start of the finals. “First of all you won’t became a World Cup winner and secondly you won’t become European champions in two years. You can just forget it. Should one expect wonders from me then one would be better of appointing somebody from a circus. I’m not a magician.”

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Rummenigge was captain at the 1986 FIFA World Cup final against Argentina and scored a goal at the 3-2 defeat. He stops the ball technically perfect with his chest. (Photo: Rauchensteiner/Augenklick)
Rivalry for team captaincy, Stein given the bootBeckenbauer was well aware of the different characters in the side. Captain Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and goalkeeper Harald Schumacher produced a “cockfight” for team captaincy and it split the team into two. On top of that the reserve keeper Uli Stein poisoned the atmosphere within the squad. The booted out Stein termed Beckenbauer a “clown” and the team as a “bunch of amateurs”. The team boss immediately sent him home. Each new episode in the captaincy saga in Mexico was served piping hot by the reporters, who at the time still stayed in the same hotel as the team, to the audience back in Germany.

All in all, it was amazing just how well the divided team and their captain did eventually. They finished second at the end of the preliminary group phase after drawing 0-0 against Uruguay, beating Scotland 2-1 and losing 2-0 against Denmark. The side overcame Morocco 1-0 in the round of the last 16, Mexico 4-1 after a penalty shoot out in the quarterfinals and France 2-0 in the semis. This put the Germans in the final as they were in 1982 when they lost 3-1 to Italy in Madrid. This time Germany were beaten 3-2 by Argentina. Rummenigge scored five times in the first World Cup finals and only once in the second and that was in the final. It was too little. Demoralised Rummenigge, who again was not quite able to show his class at the World Cup, retired after winning 95 international caps, as did Dieter Hoeneß and Felix Magath.

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Overhead kicks, as performed during the 1986 FIFA World Cup match against Morocco, were a speciality of Munich striker Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. (Photo: Perenyi/Augenklick)
Farewell with no regretsBut Rummenigge, who was strangely troubled by muscular problems at both finals, stepped down with no regrets: “As a team we were amazingly fit. The 1982 side was technically better but the 1986 one was a tougher one to beat. We made a tactical mistake in the Mexico final. After getting back into the game after being 2-0 down, we then wanted to overpower the Argentines, and lost. The team and its star Maradona appeared exhausted to me. We’d have won if the game had gone to extra time.”

Beckenbauer and Rummenigge therefore had to wait until 1990. Franz in the dugout and “Kalle” in the stands. No, he was not envious when they won. “I was pleased for Pierre Littbarski, who, like Toni Schuhmacher and myself, was twice a losing finalist.” Now Rummenigge is one of the most influential people in German football through his position as chairman of Bayern Munich. He additionally heads the association of more than 100 top European clubs, which was formed in spring 2008.

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