28. März 1897, Mannheim († 28. April 1977, Mannheim)
1928-1929 SV Nowawes 03
1930-1932 Tennis Borussia Berlin
1932-1934 Westdeutscher Spiel-Verband
1950-1964 Deutschland (162 matches)
Winning the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland was a watershed event in the history of German football. Not only did it lay the foundation for further success on the pitch, it also placed the game at the heart of society. The architect of the Miracle of Bern was Sepp Herberger. The West Germany boss was both a resolute and meticulous worker and a caring yet strict coach who left little to chance in performing the miracle.
Herberger was quick to spot the opportunity to use football to rise up the ranks from humble beginnings. He left a lasting mark as national team coach, but people often forget that he was an outstanding footballer, too. The two Mannheim clubs, Waldhof and VfR, were among the biggest and best clubs in Germany in the 1920s and vied for the services of the prolific striker. Given the opportunity to step up his coaching education, Herberger later left the familiar surroundings of Mannheim and went to Berlin.
On arrival at the German University of Physical Education, he proved to be a model student. His certificate of graduation shows he was best in class. Otto Nerz, the then national team coach, was an important mentor and sponsor to him, but that did not prevent Herberger from launching a power struggle against him from 1936 after a disappointing Olympic Games for the national team in Berlin. Hitherto assistant coach, Herberger finally assumed sole responsibility shortly before the 1938 World Cup in France.
During World War II, Herberger invited his players to preparation camps as often as possible to prevent them from being sent to the front. Nevertheless, Herberger was a member of the NSDAP from 1933. The civilian tribunal in Weinheim, which had jurisdiction for him in the denazification process, classified him as a fellow traveller [Mitläufer]. Herberger was ordered to pay a 500 mark fine.
In 1950, Herberger was officially re-appointed national coach. The first international match after the war, a 1-0 win over Switzerland, marked the start of a process designed to produce a team capable of competing on the international stage. He was meticulous in every aspect of his work, from the physical, strategic and psychological preparation of his players and the tactical analysis of the opposition to questions concerning kit and equipment. Herberger's basic approach was as disarmingly simple as his sayings, which enliven the language of football to this day.
Uwe Seeler, honorary captain of the German national team, is in no doubt: "If you take Herberger's philosophy to heart, you'll play successful football, even today." Without the need for miracles.