Horst Eckel, the last surviving member of West Germany’s team that won the 1954 FIFA World Cup, has died at the age of 89.
Article top media content
Eckel, who played over 200 matches for 1. FC Kaiserslautern and collected 32 caps for West Germany, was recently inducted into the German football Hall of Fame.
He won the domestic title twice with Kaiserslautern in the 1950s, but his greatest moment came at the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland, when the German underdogs celebrated a thrilling 3-2 win over Hungary's renowned 'Mighty Magyars' in the final – an occasion that became known as 'The Miracle of Berne'.
An industrious and tenacious midfielder, Eckel formed a superb partnership at both club and international levels with his good friend and long-time West Germany captain Fritz Walter.
After his active career, Eckel became a teacher, and was involved in various charity foundations.
The joint interim presidents of the German Football Association (DFB), Rainer Koch and Peter Peters, paid tribute to Eckel for his achievements.
"I got to know Horst Eckel as a wonderful person who was always deeply convinced that he should take sides with those in need," said Koch. "He was a true role model. He knew how to point out a path to people in desperate situations and, as a hero of Berne, he always tied this to his very own and personal footballing fairytale.
"This determination, ambition, sense of purpose and humility characterised his life, and made him a personality who will be sorely missed by all of us."
'Honesty and humility'
"He was loved by everyone because he was an outstanding footballer," added Peters, "but even more so because of his positive and endearing nature, and because of his great character.
"He approached everyone with appreciation and respect and exuded honesty and humility. I am very proud that I got to know Horst Eckel. He was a magnificent companion."