From GDR gold to Hrubesch farewell: these were the three best German Olympic appearances in football

Medaillen gab es für deutsche Mannschaften bei Olympia schon in jeder Farbe.

Although Germany is the only soccer world champion to have never been an Olympic champion (the 1976 GDR success was abandoned), tournaments in the past have seen strong black, red and gold displays. The eventual world champions Jürgen Klinsmann and Thomas Hasler gave a foreshadowing in Seoul in 1988 about what would happen two years later at the World Cup in Rome. The DFB’s latest success at the Olympics will also be unforgettable – including an emotional farewell to coach Horst Hrubesch after a penalty loss in the 2016 final against hosts Brazil.


Next Thursday (1:30 pm /ard and eurosportStefan Kuntz’s team has a chance for revenge in the German opening game against the defending champions. The other preliminary round rivals in Group D are Saudi Arabia (25 July) and Ivory Coast (28 July). We begin our review with the great victory of the German Democratic Republic in Montreal, which is as much a part of our nationwide Olympic history as later medal successes.

Two years after the great GDR’s victory over the Federal Republic with Jurgen Sparwasser’s 1–0 winner at the 1974 World Cup, football fans in the German Democratic Republic were able to rejoice again – and the first (and so far only) Olympic gold Medals celebrate the history of German football. After bronze in 1972, this time it was enough of a big hit – despite going through a tough opening in Canada. George Bushner’s team did not score against the amateur teams of Brazil (0–0) and Spain (1–0), but they were also unable to shine with the high risk of scoring.

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It was only in the knockout rounds that the GDR selection increased drastically and showed excellent performances against France (4: 0) and in the prestigious duel with the Soviet Union (2: 1). The same applies in the final against defending champions Poland: thanks to goals from Hartmut Schade, Martin Hoffmann and Reinhard Hfner as well as a defense organized by goalkeepers Jürgen Kroy and Libero Hans-Jürgen “Dixie” Dörner – the GDR won Achieved a safe safe 3:1- Success. The title defense was missed after only four years in Moscow against Czechoslovakia (0:1) – silver was still a strong reward.

Before the Olympics began a dry spell for German football fans (the colors black, red and gold were not represented from 1992 to 2012), coach Hans Löhr’s team won another medal in 1988. Even though tennis player Stephanie Graf as Olympic champion (and later Golden Slam winner) can certainly attract the most attention, the football selection in Seoul also made a lasting impression.

The team, along with later 1990s world champions such as Jurgen Klinsmann and Thomas Haller, began the tournament with victories over China (3:0) and Tunisia (4:1), in a third round match against Sweden. The necklace (1:2) ultimately did not fall in place of the weight. After an undisputed quarterfinal victory over Zambia (4–0), Lohr-Elf drew a short straw in the semifinal against Brazil – after Wolfgang Funkel failed with a penalty kick at Tafarel during regular time in the penalty shoot-out. after. From a German point of view, the tournament had a good ending in a “small” final against Italy. Klinsmann, Gerhard Kleppinger and Christian Schreier gave Germany its first Olympic medal in football.

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In the end, not much was missing for Horst Hrubesch’s men for the great triumph of Rio de Janeiro – that is, in the traditional spot where Joachim Low’s DFB selection won the world championship two years earlier. The first German participation in the Olympic Games after 28 years would eventually end so successfully, that is, with a silver medal, was not expected. After a slow start with (also) several goals against Mexico (2:2) and South Korea (3:3), the Hrubes selection against football dwarfs Fiji with the first big exclamation mark – 10:0!

The performances in the knockout stage were even more impressive, with Portugal first surprisingly clear 4-0 and then Nigeria 2-0. Everything was set for the Grand Final against hosts Brazil. The final was to be decided on penalties after goals from Neymar and Max Mayer, in which Nils Petersen’s nerves failed. Even if it wasn’t enough for gold, coach Hrubesh could look back on his last international match with pride. His team improved from game to game, presented themselves as extremely dangerous (Peterson and Serge Gnabry became the most successful shooters with six goals each) and delivered an impressive team performance. Germany is the only world champion that has never been an Olympic champion since the final defeat against Brazil could be worked on. Around 2021 under Stefan Kuntz…

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