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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

On the death of Jürgen Grabowski: He has left us a great – Sport

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The “kicker” was probably at fault. As an elementary student, the football magazine was the most important read even before any primer. Every Thursday and Monday morning I walked past the newsstand on my way to school. After “my” first football World Cup in 1974, there was an attractive offer to collect points, for a star cut from Jürgen Grabowski. I soon had that on the wall. Waterproofed and impregnated with a layer of varnish to make it hold up better.

Jürgen Grabowski was simply mesmerizingly calm, an artist on the ball. The mustachioed man played both reliable and understated as a future insurance agent. He is probably not the first player that comes to mind when people think of the great team that played at home in 1974, although Grabowski also helped set up Gerd Muller’s game-winning goal.

At Eintracht Frankfurt, Grabowski was the great playmaker. In the year of the World Cup, he and his club also won the Cup. I still vividly remember the 3-1 victory over Hamburger SV, especially since the final was played in August, after the World Cup. Eintracht was great in the 1970s, the splendor of the Grabowski era is still present in the old Waldstadion: a song by the Frankfurt band Tankard is always played before the games: “We saw Eintracht in the final, with Jürgen, with Jurgen. He played so well and so beautifully with Jürgen Grabowski! Black and white as snow, that’s the SBU.”

Great successes with Eintracht Frankfurt

Grabowski had great success with Eintracht: two cup wins and the UEFA Cup in 1980. Although he did not play in the final, a foot injury ended his career. The national player Grabowski left a long time ago in 1980. His 30th birthday also fell on the day of the World Cup final in Munich, after which he promptly resigned, along with Wolfgang Overath, the late Gerd Müller and Paul Breitner, who later returned. You didn’t have it like that with Helmut Schön.

Before the 1978 World Cup, the national team manager tried to persuade Jürgen Grabowski to return. Born in Wiesbaden, he thought for a long time, and then canceled.

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In the selection, Grabowski acted mainly like right back. He was already in the squad for the 1966 World Cup but did not play, which changed in 1970. He was named the tournament’s best substitute. He was in the German team for the 1972 European Championships, but did not play in the final. The 1974 World Cup didn’t start so well for Grabowski either, after a 1–0 loss in the final group match against East Germany he fell out of favor.

In the match against Sweden in the second round, he managed, only a few minutes on the field, but the goal to make it 3:2. Germany came from behind after a 0-1 break to win 4-2. The team lined up after Grabowski came on and played the final against the Netherlands. “I owe everything to this game,” Jürgen Grabowski later said.

A career as a civil servant was not for him.

After 517 games and 151 goals for his Eintracht, Grabowski appeared for his club, unlike fellow 1974 world champion Bernd Hölzenbein, mainly as an away player at the stadium. He completed his one-week run as interim coach in December 1977 (while he was still a player). He ran an insurance agency. A career as a civil servant was not for him.
By the way, after Jürgen Grabowski there was a star cut by Rainer Bonhof in “Kicker”, which I couldn’t put together anymore. I no longer have the life-size impregnated Grabowski. But after he left a childhood hero, I feel a silent sadness: Jürgen Grabowski died on Thursday at the age of 77.


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