16. August 1929, Essen († 14. August 2003)
1946-1950 SC Oelde 09
1950-1951 Sportfreunde Katernberg
1951-1959 Rot-Weiss Essen
1959-1960 1. FC Köln
1960-1963 Sportclub Enschede
1963-1965 Meidericher SV
230 appearances, 99 goals (Oberliga West)
19 appearances, 8 goals (Bundesliga)
69 appearances, 39 goals (Eredivisie, Niederlande)
Deutscher Meister: 1955
40 caps (21 goals)
It is one of the most famous moments in German football history, not least because of the unforgettable way in which the radio commentator Herbert Zimmermann recorded it for posterity. "Rahn has to shoot from the background, Rahn shoots, goal, goal, goal!" The scene being described, which still gives you goosebumps when you listen to it today, is the goal that gave Germany a 3-2 lead in the 84th minute of the 1954 World Cup final against Hungary, the overwhelming favourites. Six minutes later it was done. Helmut Rahn's scintillating shot into the bottom left corner of the Hungary net proved to be the winning goal, a goal that presented Germany with their "Miracle of Bern" and first ever World Cup title.
A goal that acted like a big bang for German football, one with which every future success is inevitably linked. It did not appear from thin air, however. And neither did the goalscorer. The powerful striker from Rot-Weiss Essen had already levelled the scores at 2-2 and set up Max Morlock to make it 2-1. He also scored to seal a 2-0 win in the quarter-final against Yugoslavia.
By this time he had already enjoyed success at club level, too, winning the DFB Cup in 1953. This was followed in 1955 by victory in the German championship final against Kaiserlautern, who fielded five of Rahn's World Cup-winning teammates. RWE were the benchmark in the German game at the time and Rahn was the 'boss', as he was known on account of his leadership qualities.
Four years later at the World Cup in Sweden, he bettered his tally of four goals at the 1954 tournament by scoring six times. This earned him a nomination for the European Footballer of the Year award, where he eventually came second. After a move to FC Cologne and a three-year stint abroad with SC Enschede, he ended up at Meidericher SV in 1963, where he played for another two years in the newly formed Bundesliga to conclude a terrific career.
Rahn was a bit of a swashbuckler both on and off the pitch. Sometimes he overshot the mark, made the wrong decisions and rubbed people up the wrong way. How good that he was of the same opinion as Herbert Zimmermann, then, at least for one wonderful moment: "Rahn has to shoot..."