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Memorable Monday: Looking Back at "The Kaiser's Cleaner"

If you are a hardworking individual who works his or her socks off, odds are you will be rewarded for your endeavors. In 1974, he would have been easy to blame but he took it upon himself to rectify his error and was rewarded for it. Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck was no ordinary individual. We take a look at this legend’s career today.

Nationaal Archief, Den Haag, Rijksfotoarchief: Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Fotopersbureau (ANEFO), 1945-1989 - negatiefstroken zwart/wit, nummer toegang, bestanddeelnummer 927-3102
Nationaal Archief, Den Haag, Rijksfotoarchief: Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Fotopersbureau (ANEFO), 1945-1989 - negatiefstroken zwart/wit, nummer toegang, bestanddeelnummer 927-3102
Den Haag, Rijksfotoarchief

When the greats are mentioned, he is ignored. Yet, he can be considered the catalyst for Bayern's three successive European Cup trophies. Before going to, inevitably, 1974, let us start much further back. In 1962, young Schwarzenbeck started appearing for amateur club Sportfreunde München. Across the street, a Bayern scout heard about him and decided to take a look. Indeed, the scout saw enough to be convinced that the defender could cut it at Bayern. He started playing for the Bayern amateurs soon afterwards.

He was also called up to represent West Germany's youth side. Unfortunately, in his debut, Schwarzenbeck scored an own goal and gave away a penalty. But this young man was not one to be doubted. After such a crushing debut, he got up, brushed himself off and continued to move forward.

Zlatko Cajkovski and his club trusted him enough to give him his debut at 18. He played as a left back under Cajkovski but was converted to Franz Beckenbauer's central defensive partner by Branko Zebec afterwards. His no nonsense approach included last minute tackles and clearances into Row Z. He was the unglamorous one while the Kaiser was the flamboyant one. In fact, Schwarzenbeck's approach earned him the nickname "The Kaiser's Cleaner".

When this defender started playing, football did not provide enough to make a living. Just in case, he made sure he could live his life by earning money via a trade. He was a typographer. Neither of his jobs, it is almost needless to say, was glamorous. Hence, in 1974, what Schwarzenbeck did was truly shocking.

Bayern vs Atletico Madrid went into extra time after both sides failed to score in normal time. With six minutes on the clock, Schwarzenbeck committed a foul close to the penalty area. Luis Aragones scored from the resulting free kick. Bayern trailed until roughly 97 seconds to go. No Atletico defender stepped up to defend Schwarzenbeck as he took the shot amid cries from his teammates telling him not to do so. It takes a brave man to attempt possibly the final shot in a match in which his mistake gave the opposition their goal. And indeed, the gamble paid off. The rest is history.

Schwarzenbeck quietly retired in 1980 after spending his entire career with Bayern. Even the current captain Philipp Lahm spent two seasons away from the club. One club men are difficult to find and Schwarzenbeck is one of them. Not even the Kaiser is a one club man. After he retired, he maintained a stationary shop he inherited from his aunts until recently.

It is easy to forget that he won everything. He won the World Cup, the European Championship, the German Cup, the Bundesliga and the European Cup among other trophies. Schwarzenbeck is a great whose name should be mentioned more. To be specific, he is a great who belongs only to Bayern München.

Stories and Statistics courtesy of The Hard TackleThe Guardian and Wikipedia

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