An FA Cup hero's extraordinary past


It is 55 years since the Manchester City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann famously completed an FA Cup final despite breaking a bone in his neck yet the story retains its fascination, as publishers Yellow Jersey discovered when Catrine Clay’s new take on the tale proved an unexpected hit with sports book readers after it was published in hardback last spring.
Trautmann's Journey: From Hitler Youth to FA Cup Legend won critical acclaim, too, making the shortlist of six for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award.  Yellow Jersey will be looking for another surge of interest this week when the book is released in paperback.
The focus of Clay’s interest in the German footballer is away from the field of play, however.  The part of his life for which Trautmann is best known is largely confined to the final two chapters.   It is the life that preceded the event that brought him to England -- his capture as a prisoner of war in 1945 -- that fascinated Clay, a noted maker of historical documentaries for television.  The Trautmann at the centre of this story is the young man Clay believes was typical of his generation of Germans in being seduced by Nazism. 
We learn that Trautmann, whose physique and athletic ability made him in many ways the perfect fit for the Aryan ideal, was the son of a Nazi party member and embraced the ideals of the party without apology, arguing that in the Germany of his growing up, there was little alternative. Bernhard, as he was, joined the Hitler Youth and went off to fight as a soldier believing that it was the right thing to do.  
Thus the story is less about sport than the history of Germany between Trautmann’s birth in 1923 and the conclusion of the second world war. That might leave some readers feeling short-changed but if ever a story needed to be seen in context, then that of the German who signed for a top-level English football club only four years after their countries were in conflict is one.

Buy Trautmann's Journey: From Hitler Youth to FA Cup Legend direct from Amazon.




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