Top 15 Greatest German Football Players of All Time

Greatest German Football Player of all time, we all want to know. One of the most essential things to understand about German culture is that they are football fanatics. If you’ve ever been in a German Kneipe (pub) on a match day or been caught in the post-match crush on the S-Bahn, you’ll know that a passion for the beautiful game is pervasive in Germany. 

With around 6.6 million members, the Deutscher Fußballbund (DFB) or German Football Association is the largest sports organisation in the world. That’s around 8% of the German population! With such a high level of national pride, Germany has produced some amazing athletes. Here is a list of some of the greatest German football player ever to play the game.  

1. Fritz Walter

Fritz Walter (1920-2002) played with FC Kaiserslautern for the entirety of his illustrious career, leading the club to the German titles in 1951 and 1953. However, he truly cemented his position in football history when he guided West Germany to victory in the 1954 World Cup final in Bern, Switzerland, against Hungary. This win, which occurred just nine years after the end of World War 11, has come to symbolise Germany’s national recovery and healing. This remarkable win was memorialised in Sonke Wortmann’s acclaimed 2003 film of the same name, Das Wunder von Bern.  

2. Franz Beckenbauer

Franz Beckenbauer, nicknamed Der Kaiser (The Emperor), is widely regarded as one of the best footballers in history, both in Germany and abroad. Beckenbauer, who played the majority of his professional career for Bayern Munich, the most successful German football club, also captained the 1974 West German World Cup-winning team and managed the 1990 West German World Cup-winning team, only months before German unification, becoming the only man to have both captained and managed a World Cup-winning team. That’s why, Fritz Walter is one of the greatest German football player in history.

3. Miroslav Klose

In his twelve years representing Germany internationally, Miroslav Klose became the country’s all-time leading scorer and still holds the record for most World Cup goals. After illustrious international and Bundesliga (Germany’s premier football league) careers, Klose retired after Germany’s 2014 World Cup success with gold, silver, and bronze medals.

4. Bastian Schweinsteiger

Born in 1984, Bastian Schweinsteiger spent the majority of his football career at Bayern Munich. He is regarded as one of the greatest midfielders of all time due to his exceptional mastery of game strategy. He played in four European Championships and three World Cups, making him the fourth-most-capped German footballer of all time. Over the course of 17 years, he played exactly 500 matches for Bayern Munich, giving him the nickname Fußballgott (God of football) among fans.

5. Michael Matthias Sammer

Matthias Sammer, who was born in 1967 in former East Germany, began his professional football career with Dynamo Dresden in the DDR-Oberliga (the primary East German football league). After unification, he was a member of the VfB Stuttgart club that became the first champions of the reunified German Bundesliga, and he embarked on an extremely successful career serving the nation. In 1995, he was voted German Footballer of the Year, and in 1996, he was selected as the top player at the EUFA Euro ’96 competition. Sammer retired in 1998 with a total of 74 caps, 23 for the old German Democratic Republic and 51 for the reunified Federal Republic. So, Matthias Sammeris is also among the greatest German football player.

6. Gerd Müller

Gerd “The Bomber” Müller (1945-2021) is considered one of the best goal-scorers in football history, particularly for his ability to strike with pinpoint accuracy from the penalty spot. Until Brazil’s Ronaldo surpassed him in 2006, he held the record for the most World Cup goals ever scored. Müller scored 68 goals in 62 international appearances for West Germany. In his tenure with FC Bayern München, he scored 365 goals in the Bundesliga, making him the league’s all-time leading scorer. 

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Whether you want to get out and join a local team, engage in banter with German friends, or watch a Bundesliga match with beer and bratwurst, Germany’s football culture is a sight you will quickly grow to adore. After learning about some of the giants of German football, you will be well-equipped to conduct your own research. Choose your side, don their colours, and keep your eyes peeled for the next German football star to reach the national record books as one of the greatest German football player of all time.  

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