When TSV 1860 München were relegated at the end of the 1980/81 season, many felt it would only be a matter of time before their star striker Rudi Völler returned to the top flight, with or without the Munich club. Cast into the wilderness of the 2. Bundesliga, Völler continued to produce eye-catching performances as scouts flocked to the Olympiastadion, including national Under-21 coach Berti Vogts. A call-up resulted and Völler soon began repaying the faith.
Two goals in West Germany's opening qualifying match of the 1982 UEFA European Under-21 Championship against Austria proved a springboard to a successful campaign for both player and country. Völler added three more as the side reached the final but England proved too strong for the Germans in Sheffield. The visitors were 3-0 down when the determined Völler reduced the deficit late on. Injury ruled him out of the return, which saw England hold off a Pierre Littbarski-led comeback to claim the title.
Völler did not look back, though, joining Werder Bremen that summer and enjoying immediate success, including his first senior international cap. He went on to score 47 goals in 90 appearances for Germany, and lifted the inaugural UEFA Champions League trophy with Olympique de Marseille in 1993. The pinnacle of his international career came at the 1990 FIFA World Cup. After belatedly helping the Germans avenge that Under-21 loss to England with victory against Bobby Robson's side in the last four, Völler won the decisive penalty in the final against Argentina in Rome.
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