If I could choose one adjective to describe Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck it would be selfless. He may not have defended in a sophisticated and elegant manner like his famous defensive counterpart Franz Beckenbauer but his contribution to the cause was just as important and effective.
Christened “Kaiser’s Bodyguard,” Schwarzenbeck sacrificed individual stardom by doing what many would describe as the ‘dirty work’. He would guard his goal with unflinching bravery to allow Beckenbauer the freedom to take centre stage.
Hailing from the academy system along with Sepp Maier, Paul Breitner and Beckenbauer, Schwarzenbeck made his debut in the 1967 German Cup final against Hamburg.
Only Sepp Maier (642), Oliver Kahn (632), Gerd Muller (576) and Klaus Augenthaler (549) amassed more appearances for Bayern Munich than Schwarzenbeck (547). He is also one of the most decorated German footballers of his generation with 14 major trophies at club level under his belt, including 6 Bundesliga titles and 3 successive European Cups.
However, their success may not have been so free-flowing had Schwarzenbeck not scored what many believe is the most important goal in Bayern’s history.
Bayern had reached their first ever European Final courtesy of victories over Swedish outfit Atvidaberg, Dynamo Dresden, CSKA Sofia and Upjest Dozsa respectively. They were pitted against an Atletico Madrid side, who’d defended resolutely throughout the competition, conceding just twice and registering 7 clean sheets in 8 games.
It was always going to be a hard-fought battle and so it proved when the game was stuck at a goalless stalemate after 90 minutes. Luis Aragones rifled an unerring free-kick beyond a hapless Maier with six minutes of extra-time remaining and Atletico looked set to deny Bayern their first European Cup.
The clock was ticking down and the final whistle was just moments away when Schwarzenbeck ventured forward and unleashed a venomous low strike into the far bottom corner from improbable range.
“Even Pele wouldn’t have scored that one,” he joked afterwards.
Schwarzenbeck had rescued Bayern from the clutches of defeat and forced a replay against the Spaniards. Bayern cruised to a 4-0 victory in Brussels courtesy of braces from Uli Houness and Gerd Muller respectively.
That victory kick-started the Bayern revolution, which resulted in a further two European Cups following victories over Leeds United and Saint-Etienne in 1975 and 1976 respectively.
It was the only goal in 3,540 minutes of action that Schwarzenbeck scored in the European Cup. Yet it’s one which held more importance than any other goal until perhaps Arjen Robben’s strike in the 2013 final.
For a man who spent his football career out from the spotlight, it was the ultimate gift for one of football’s unsung heroes!