Sixty-four years ago Switzerland hosted the 1954 World Cup and Hungary were the hot favourites due to their remarkable form of not having lost a game for four years and 32 matches.
The Hungarians had reached a World Cup final before too – in the last World Cup before the war. This Hungarian side of the fifties had revolutionised the game – famously stunning England 6-3 at Wembley in 1953.
West Germany didn’t play in the 1950 World Cup due to a ban imposed after World War II so this was their return to the international scene. Germany before the Second World War didn’t have much success in the World Cup, so little was expected of them in Switzerland.
The German national team boss was a man called Sepp Herberger who took charge of the national team in 1936 and had half the Austrian national team forced upon him in a poor showing in the 1938 World Cup in a hostile France. He was allowed to carry on throughout the war and he finally got his chance to manage an all-German side in 1954.
The two teams first met in the group stages where Herberger decided to play some reserves to hide the true strengths of his side. Hungary demolished them 8-3 which followed a 9-0 win over South Korea. In the quarter-finals and semi-finals they beat the South American sides and joint favourites Brazil and Uruguay, so the final against the Germans looked like a formality.
In the final Hungary were two goals up within eight minutes and it appeared another massacre was on the cards. The Germans, wearing special boots made by Adidas, on an ever increasingly wet and soggy pitch hauled themselves back in to it. German star Max Morlock got a goal back in the tenth minute.
And then West Germany won a corner in the 18th minute:
What Happened Next?
West Germany shocked the world with a stunning 3-2 win courtesy of Rahn scoring again in the 84th minute. This would be Hungary’s only defeat from 14 May 1950 until they lost 3–1 to Turkey on 19 February 1956.
The moment Rahn won it as heard on German radio…
Miracle of Bern – a film worth watching…