No one living east or west of the border will ever forget the events that led to the reunification of Germany. So swift were developments that just 49 days after the official reunification of the German nation on 3 October 1990, the East German Football Association (DFV) and the West German Football Association (DFB) became one.
Those momentous times will be recalled at a series of gatherings this weekend. On Saturday a 1990 FIFA World Cup-winning Germany XI take on a selection of East German legends in Leipzig, before a gala celebration on Sunday 21 November in the same city marks exactly 20 years since the reformation of the DFB.
"Leipzig has always played an important part in DFB history," said DFB president Dr Theo Zwanziger. "The DFB was formed in the city's Mariengarten on 28 January 1900, the unification meeting took place there in 1990, and it was also the venue for the World Cup draw on 9 December 2005."
Hans-Georg Moldenhauer, the last DFV president and a vice-president of the DFB, has vivid recollections of 1990. "My memories from back then are still very emotional," he said. "As soon as the wall had gone, we began making contact.
The days of reunification were a fantastic time."
While West Germany's footballing successes are known worldwide, those of the former German Democratic Republic are less celebrated. East Germany took footballing gold at the 1976 Olympics with a 3-1 final victory over Poland, yet their greatest triumph was a 1-0 1974 World Cup defeat of West Germany in the nations' only meeting.
Although both teams had already qualified for the next round, neither could bear losing that final group match. West Germany may have gone on to lift the trophy yet their neighbours beat them, with Jürgen Sparwasser's 77th-minute goal making a legend of the scorer. "
Even if they just put 'Hamburg 1974' on my gravestone, everyone will know who is there," said Sparwasser.
While there was just one international match between the countries, there were no fewer than 17 European club competition head-to-heads. The first saw FC Bayern München scrape through 7-6 on aggregate against 1. FC Dynamo Dresden in the 1974 European Champion Clubs' Cup second round. After a thrilling 4-3 home victory, Bayern were 3-2 down in Dresden and facing an early exit, until Gerd Müller struck to seal the favourites' progress. That set the tone for many of the subsequent encounters, with East German clubs triumphant only three times.
Among the West's most famous wins were Bayer 05 Uerdingen and SV Werder Bremen's respective successes against Dynamo Dresden and BFC Dynamo. Dresden had prevailed 2-0 at home in their 1985/86 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final and led 3-1 at half-time in West Germany before Uerdingen scored six goals in a remarkable comeback, advancing 7-5 on aggregate. Three years later, in the 1988/89 European Cup first round, East German champions BFC suffered a similar fate: 3-0 winners at home in Berlin, they crashed 5-0 in Bremen.
The first international for the reunified German national team was a 4-0 stroll against Switzerland on 19 December 1990. Current DFB sporting director Matthias Sammer and Andreas Thom were the first East Germans in the side, so it is fitting that they will play on Saturday, alongside former East German internationals Perry Bräutigam, Thomas Doll and Uwe Rösler. Lothar Matthäus, Andreas Brehme and Jürgen Klinsmann will feature for the West Germans. As Moldenhauer says: "Many things have come together. We can be very pleased."
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