037. Sepp Maier
Josef-Dieter “Sepp” Maier was born in Metten and played for local club TSV Haar, but moved to Bayern Munich before he played senior football. He was to stay at Bayern for nineteen successful years and barely missed a game. He played almost 400 consecutive matches between 1966 and 1977 without missing a match! In that period he was ranked as the best goalkeeper in the world alongside the likes of Gordon Banks and Dino Zoff.
Nicknamed “Die Katze” (the cat) for his elasticity, Maier was definitely a crowd favourite and often made some impossible saves wearing these long black shorts which he always had. Sepp was substitute goalkeeper for Hans Tilkowski in the 1966 World Cup without making an appearance, but he had established himself in the German goal by the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. West Germany reached the semifinals there, but two years later in the European Championship, Maier picked up his first winner’s medal for West Germany.
The summer of 1974 was the highlight of Maier’s career. West Germany hosted and won the World Cup, beating Holland in a tight final where he was outstanding. He kept a clean sheet in four of his country’s seven matches. The mid-seventies was a wonderful time for German football. Bayern Munich ruled in club competitions winning three straight European Cups plus a World Club Cup, and West Germany ruled in international competitions. Both teams had Sepp Maier between the posts. He was awarded German Player of the Year three times in the seventies, a rare accomplishment for a goalkeeper, knowing that strikers or midfielders usually win these awards.
West Germany were eliminated already in the second phase despite Maier’s great goalkeeping at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. This was to be his last big tournament as a car accident in 1979 ended his career at the age of 35. Having won almost a century of caps for his country and 13 major trophies with Bayern.