Uwe Seeler, who led West Germany to the 1966 World Cup final as national team captain, died on Thursday. He was 85.
“If Uwe Seeler had laced up his boots, then the opposing goalkeeper could have dressed warmer and preferably put on a second pair of gloves, because Seeler scored from everywhere and in every possible way,” his hometown club Hamburg wrote in a special supplement to the celebration. the striker is regarded as one of Germany’s best players and a national legend.
“Whether it’s overhead shots, mid-air headers, long-range shots, volleys, crosses, adventurous shots, he always found a way to get the ball over the line.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Twitter that the country is mourning the passing of “our Uwe”.
“He was a model for many, a football legend and, of course, an honorary citizen of Hamburg. I was allowed to give an afternoon speech on the occasion of his 80th birthday: “In fact, we all want to be like our Uwe – confident and humble. He will be missed,” wrote Scholz.
Seeler received offers from clubs in Spain and Italy, most notably Inter Milan in 1961, but he decided to stay at Hamburg.
He played for Hamburg from 1952 to 1973, scoring 445 goals in 519 appearances for the team in the Oberliga and Bundesliga. He remains Hamburg’s Bundesliga record with 137 goals. The club stated that Seeler scored 507 goals in 587 competitive games for the club.
Hamburg, which were the only remaining team to have played every season in the Bundesliga since the league’s formation in 1963, were finally relegated to the second division in 2018.
The club on Thursday mourned the loss of the “legend”.
“Uwe Seeler symbolizes everything that characterizes a good person: practicality, loyalty, joy of life, and he was always available. He is the epitome of HSV,” said club sporting director Jonas Boldt.
“I personally have special memories of how we were together on his last birthday. He talked about business, asked about his HPV, gave me advice and a couple of jokes. We will never forget him and will always cherish him.”
Seeler scored 43 goals in 72 games for West Germany, finishing second to England in the 1966 World Cup and finishing third four years later in Mexico. He was part of the German team for 16 years.
“While I have participated in four world championships, I would like to win the title at least once. I was unlucky,” Seeler said. “However, everything was great. I do not regret anything”.
Seeler was voted German Footballer of the Year in 1960, 1964 and 1970.
The great Brazilian Pelé included Seeler in his list of the world’s greatest living players in 2004.
“His possession was perfect, his shots were accurate, and what really impressed me was his ability to head,” said Pelé.
Seeler won the German championship in 1960 and the German Cup in 1963 with Hamburger SV, but he also suffered grief from misses in the European Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup. Hamburg lost to Barcelona in the semi-finals of the European Cup in 1961 and to Milan in the final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1968.
In recent years, Seeler has repeatedly suffered from health problems. In May 2020, he underwent surgery to repair a broken hip after a failed fall at home.
He lost hearing in his right ear and had balance problems after a car accident in 2010. He also had a pacemaker installed and a tumor removed from his shoulder, according to the dpa news agency.
Seeler was married to his wife, Ilka, for over 60 years. They had three daughters. His grandson Levin Oztunali plays for Bundesliga club Union Berlin.
Seeler’s older brother, Dieter, also played for Hamburg. Their father, Erwin, worked on a barge in the port of Hamburg and was also known for playing football in the city.