In April 1945, a group of bedraggled, weary German prisoners of war landed at Tilbury after being captured during the last days of the war. They were dispersed to prison camps thoughout England and one of their number, a confused 22-year-old veteran of some of the harshest conditions and hardest battles experienced by the German forces, found himself in south-east Lancashire. His name was Bernhard Carl Trautmann, later to become famous as Bert. This book is the complete story, from his early life in Bremen where he was born and raised in the seething political climate of the 1920s, his involvement with the Hitler Youth movement and extraordinary war experiences to his internment at prisoner of war Camp 50, until his signing by Manchester City in 1949 amid a barrage of controversy and prejudice. Trautmann ran the gauntlet of racial hatred to become, without doubt, one of the greatest goalkeepers ever seen. He played in two successive FA cup finals, 1955 and 1956, the latter year bringing him into world focus when he sustained a broken neck. Yet he continued with the game!
Within weeks of that Cup Final he suffered further appalling personal tragedy, amid turmoil in his home life, as he fought to regain his fitness. This is an exciting story of courage and humour and it gives a rare insight into the professional football world of the 1950s and 1960s, while recording with candour Trautmann's often turbulent personal and professional life. This biography, written with Bert Trautmann's full co-operation, includes dialogue that reflects the earthy vocabulary of soldiers and footballers.
Alan Rowlands was born in Patricroft, Manchester, in 1946 and football is one of his keenest interests. He has been a Manchester City supporter since boyhood. He spent two years researching and writing Trautmann within the UK and also in Germany. He is a contributor to The Footballer magazine and has collaborated with an independent production company on a film script based on the life of Bert Trautmann.