Uwe Seeler, West German footballer, dies at 85

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BERLIN — Uwe Seeler, who led West Germany to the 1966 World Cup final as national team captain, died on Thursday. He was 85 years old.

Considered one of the best German players of all time, Seeler was famous for his overhead kicks and his ability to score goals from the most unlikely angles. He was also known for his humility and fairness, and respected for his unwavering loyalty to local club Hamburger SV.

Hamburg club spokesman Christian Pletz told The Associated Press that Seeler’s family confirmed the death.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Twitter that the country mourns the passing of “our Uwe”.

“He was a role model for many, a football legend and of course an honorary citizen of Hamburg. I was allowed to give the after-dinner speech for his 80th birthday: ‘Actually, we all want to be like our Uwe – confident and modest. He will be missed,” Scholz wrote.

Seeler played for Hamburg from 1952 to 1973, scoring 445 goals in 519 Oberliga and Bundesliga appearances for the team. He remains Hamburg’s top scorer in the Bundesliga with 137 goals. The club said he scored 507 goals in 587 competitive games for the club in total.

Hamburg, who were the only remaining team to have played every season in the Bundesliga since the league was formed in 1963, were eventually relegated to the second division in 2018.

The club mourned the loss of a “legend” on Thursday.

“Uwe Seeler represents everything that characterizes a good person: down-to-earth, loyalty, joie de vivre, and he was always approachable. He is the epitome of HSV,” said club sporting director Jonas Boldt. “Personally, I have a special memory of our meeting on his last birthday. He talked shop, asked about his HSV, gave me tips and a few jokes. We will never forget him and will always cherish him.”

Seeler scored 43 goals in 72 games for West Germany, finishing runners-up to England at the 1966 World Cup and finishing third four years later in Mexico. He was part of the German team for 16 years.

“While I was at four World Cups, I would have liked to win the title once. I was unlucky,” Seeler said. “Still, everything was wonderful. I regret nothing.”

Seeler was voted German Footballer of the Year in 1960, 1964 and 1970.

Brazilian great Pelé included Seeler in his list of the world’s greatest living players in 2004.

“His ball handling was perfect, his shooting accurate and what really amazed me was his ability to direct the ball,” Pele said.

Seeler received offers from Spanish and Italian clubs, including a huge offer from Inter Milan in 1961, but he opted to stay in Hamburg.

“If Uwe Seeler was lacing his shoes, the opposing goalkeeper could dress warmly and preferably put on a second pair of gloves because Seeler was scoring everywhere and in any way possible. Whether it was aerial kicks, flying headers, long shots, volleys, lobs, opportunistic strikes, he always found a way to get the ball over the line,” Hamburg wrote in a special supplement to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Sealer in 2016.

Seeler won the German league in 1960 and the German Cup in 1963 with Hamburg, but he also endured heartbreak with near 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 Cup Winners’ Cup in 1968.

Seeler has suffered from repeated health problems in recent years. In May 2020, he underwent surgery to repair a broken hip after a bad 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 and had to have a tumor removed from his shoulder, the report reports. dpa news agency.

Seeler has been married to his wife, Ilka, for over 60 years. They had three daughters. His grandson, Levin Öztunali, 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 to play football in the city.

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