World Cup Special: 18 Tournaments, 18 Moments – Switzerland 1954

Miracle of Berne

In 1954 the Swiss city of Berne hosted the World Cup final not knowing that the 90 minutes played at the Wankdorff stadium would changed the course of footballing history.

The final of Switzerland ’54 is significant for the way West Germany, cast in the role of David, emerged from under the cloud of World War II to produce a stirring comeback and beat the Goliath ‘Magic Magyars’ Hungarians.

It is still a surprise to many that the Hungarian side of the 50’s failed to win football’s most famous crown. Going into the game they had not been beaten in 32 matches over five years and had recently smashed six past England at Wembley.

Meanwhile the West Germans, still effectively run under allied influence, debated whether or not to attend the tournament, after being banned from entering the 1950 World Cup.

In the final, led by their talisman Ferenc Puskas, the Hungarians opened up a quick 2-0 lead with early goals, many expecting them to rack up a huge total and stroll to victory.

But the West Germans, who were excelling in the poor weather conditions using recently developed screw in studs devised by a young Adi Dassler, were able to erase the deficit and go in level at the half.

In the second half, West German keeper Toni Turek pulled of a number of fine saves to keep the Hungarians at bay before Helmut Rahn grabbed his second goal of the game with just five minutes remaining.

And the face of European football changed forever after inspirational West German captain Fritz Walter lifted the trophy.

The failure marked the end of the great Hungary side, a side which innovating a number of tactical triumphs and coaching techniques with very little to show for their efforts. After the uprising of 1956 the team was never to be the same again.

However, rising from the ashes of 1945, Germany, were allowed to take pride in their nation once again. The team from 1954 are the embryos of the team that we know love to hate.

Their record since the game, after which they became the powerhouses of European football, wining the World Cup twice more and the European championships three times, speaks for itself.

Football really hasn’t been the same since.