Günter Netzer. From the depth of the room

Special exhibition on the occasion of the 75th birthday of the club legend Günter Netzer

Running time in the FohlenWelt: September 5, 2019 to March 15, 2020

Exhibition view "Günter Netzer. From the depth of the room" (2019-09-05) by Photo: BorussiaClub museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach

From talent to legend

Günter Netzer grows up on Gasthausstraße in Mönchengladbach. Although this street belongs to the working-class district, the Netzers are doing comparatively well in the post-war years. Worries about daily bread, at least, are not as present here as in the neighborhood.

Exhibition view "Günter Netzer. From the depth of the room" (2019-09-05) by Photo: unkownClub museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach

His father works as a flower seed salesman, his mother runs a grocery store on the first floor of the house - and she spoils her son wherever possible. As a result, Netzer was given a leather ball as a gift when he was five years old - his ticket to being allowed to play.

Exhibition view "Günter Netzer. From the depth of the room" (2019-09-05) by Photo: unkownClub museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach

Thanks to the leather ball, there is no longer any need to kick against tin cans or pieces of cloth that have been crumpled into each other. "Günter," says a neighbor to his mother Barbara, "he can handle the ball like no one else. I'm sure he'll be something."

Günter Netzer in the D-youth team of 1. FC Mönchengladbach (1954) by Photo: unknownClub museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach

The beginnings

One afternoon in April 1953, Netzer is excitedly polishing his soccer boots: his soccer buddies are about to pick him up. The game is not played on the street as usual, but at 1. FC Mönchengladbach, on the loamy and aging "Mannesmann-Platz. 

There is no real coach, rather a team companion - some father of a teammate. In the D-youth, Günter Netzer is the smallest, but that doesn't matter. He quickly fits in and soon scores more goals than all the others put together.

Match scene BMG - Wormatia Worms (1965-06-26) by Photo: unknownClub museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach

When Günter Netzer chooses Borussia Mönchengladbach from among many offers in 1963, the officials at 1. FC Mönchengladbach went into a rage. After one season in the club's first team, the best player moves to Borussia.

Years later, anger turns into pride for the man who comes up with something special for the 90th birthday of his first club: In 1984, he organizes a match for his first club at the Bökelberg against a celebrity eleven.

Peppered with stars like Franz Beckenbauer, Wolfgang Overath, Uwe Seeler and Berti Vogts. 18,000 people attend, and the 1st FC uses the proceeds to build the new clubhouse.

Match Scene Günter Netzer (1972-10-14) by Photo: HorstmüllerClub museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach

After promotion to the Bundesliga, Günter Netzer pulls the strings in the Foals' game and becomes a superstar. Günter Netzer plays for Borussia from 1963 to 1973. 
Borussia Mönchengladbach has been promoted to the Bundesliga, and its playmaker is Günter Netzer.

He is 20 years old when he makes his first Bundesliga appearance, on August 14, 1965. The importance that Netzer has for coach Hennes Weisweiler even at a young age is shown by the fact that he does not waive Netzer for his Bundesliga debut - despite a severe bout of flu.

In the years to come, Netzer remained the man around whom everything revolved at Borussia. At the latest since winning the German championship in 1970, he has been the "King" of the Bökelberg. He also won a championship and the DFB Cup in the period up to 1973.

Shortly before the end of the 1972/73 season, the bombshell bursts. Netzer leaves Borussia and moves to Real Madrid. For weeks, there was hardly any other topic on the sports pages. Everything culminates in the DFB Cup final on June 23, 1973 against 1. FC Köln.

Netzer's last game. In which Weisweiler initially does without him. In which Netzer finally substitutes himself. And then scores the 2-1 winner with his second touch of the ball. What a departure for the "King" of the Bökelberg! 

Interview Heynckes about Netzer, Video: Borussia, 2019, From the collection of: Club museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach
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Exhibition view "Günter Netzer. From the depth of the room" (2019-09-05) by Photo: BorussiaClub museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach

lovers' lane

Welcome to Günter Netzer's "lovers' lane", the most exciting discotheque of the early seventies far and wide.

Interview Netzer "lovers' lane", Video: Borussia, 2019, From the collection of: Club museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach
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Exhibition view "Günter Netzer. From the depth of the room" (2019-09-05) by Photo: BorussiaClub museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach

The door is pitch black, just like the entire facade at Waldhausener Straße 55, and initially locked. There are no windows. And if you want to get in, you have to ring the bell and let the doorman examine you through a viewing slit. 

Exhibition view "Günter Netzer. From the depth of the room" (2019-09-05) by Photo: BorussiaClub museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach

You should not be drunk, wear a jersey or look unkempt. Ideally, you should be a regular, otherwise somehow beautiful, prominent or interesting. When you get past the strict bouncer, you are inside one of the most exciting discos.

Exhibition view "Günter Netzer. From the depth of the room" (2019-09-05) by Photo: BorussiaClub museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach

The enterprising Netzer, who is not exactly lavishly paid at Borussia, is looking for a source of income. And with his discotheque, he breathes life into the old town of Mönchengladbach. The lovers' lane is a complete success.

Exhibition view "Günter Netzer. From the depth of the room" (2019-09-05) by Photo: BorussiaClub museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach

Of course, the decisive factor is Netzer himself. Because he is a regular in his own disco. Prominent guests include VfL pros like Rainer Bonhof and Jupp Heynckes, and actress Elke Sommer and pop singer Udo Jürgens also drop in from time to time.

Exhibition view "Günter Netzer. From the depth of the room" (2019-09-05) by Photo: BorussiaClub museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach

The years after Borussia: Günter Netzer's time in Madrid

The move to Madrid was not as easy as initially thought. By signing the playmaker from Germany, Real bosses hoped to give their somewhat aging team a new style of play. 

Exhibition view "Günter Netzer. From the depth of the room" (2019-09-05) by Photo: BorussiaClub museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach

Coach Munoz demanded that his players adapt to Netzer's soccer, and they were willing to do so. However, Real Madrid realized during the 1973/74 season that Netzer alone would hardly be enough to bring about a successful change. 

Munoz had to leave, and the team was also rejuvenated. A second German player was brought in: Paul Breitner. The measures took effect. And Günter Netzer became the designer of Real's game. In 1976, his contract expired and was not renewed.

Exhibition view "Günter Netzer. From the depth of the room" (2019-09-05) by Photo: BorussiaClub museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach

The years after Borussia: Günter Netzer's time in Zurich

His last stop as a player was the Swiss club Grasshopper Zurich. Netzer liked the quiet flair of the city, its dreamlike location on the lake at the foot of the mountains. He was struck by the fact that he could move around freely, that people left him alone.

Exhibition view "Günter Netzer. From the depth of the room" (2019-09-05) by Photo: BorussiaClub museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach

The coach at the time, Helmuth Johannsen, also convinced Netzer to move to Switzerland. With Netzer in midfield, Grasshoppers finished in sixth place, and they had hoped for more. Netzer felt that soccer as a professional was gradually coming to an end for him.

In the summer of 1977, he told Johannsen and the Grasshoppers that it was time for him to call it a day. After 14 years in professional soccer, after well over 400 competitive games and more than 130 goals, Günter Netzer's great career came to an end.

Exhibition view "Günter Netzer. From the depth of the room" (2019-09-05) by Photo: BorussiaClub museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach

From playmaker to manager

Whether as manager of Hamburger SV, as a soccer rights marketer in Switzerland or as a TV commentator: Günter Netzer is successful.   

Presenter duo Gerhard Delling and Günter Netzer (2006-01-27) by Photo: Dieter WiechmannClub museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach

Netzer's soccer knowledge is in demand, and interview requests from Germany trickle in from time to time. However, it was Swiss radio that helped him to make regular appearances on television, signing Netzer on as an expert for the Swiss national team's matches.

At the European Championship in England, Netzer meets the presenter Gerhard Delling, whom he still knows from his Hamburg days. Switzerland does not qualify for the World Cup in France, and the program directors of the first German television station sign Netzer.

Interview Heynckes "Netzer as an expert", Video: Borussia, 2019, From the collection of: Club museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach
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Exhibition view "Günter Netzer. From the depth of the room" (2019-09-05) by Photo: BorussiaClub museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach

It is the beginning of a congenial, twelve-year collaboration between the sports journalist and the soccer specialist. The two are so different and tease each other so delightfully that watching them over twelve years is not boring, but a cult.

As a duo, Netzer and Delling fill feature pages and column columns and become part of soccer culture. For fans who have never seen him play in a stadium, Netzer is better known as a TV expert. In 2000, they received the Grimme Award for their appearances. 

Portrait of Günter Netzer (2019-08-18) by Photo: BorussiaClub museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach

At the end of 1977, Günter Netzer had two offers as club manager on the table. Netzer sought advice from his former companion and VfL manager Helmut Grashoff. Grashoff advised him to take the job as club manager at HSV. Netzer took up his post on January 1, 1978. 

Netzer encountered difficult circumstances and a distrustful Hamburg media, which did not trust him with the manager's job. But his successes speak for themselves: German champion in 1979, 1982 and 1983 and winner of the European Cup of Nations in 1983.

After his time in Hamburg, from 1986, he initially worked as a representative of Cesar W. Lüthi's company in Switzerland. Netzer had already met the Swiss advertising expert and visionary for the marketability of sports during his HSV days and now joined his company.

At the end of the 1990s, Lüthi sells his company and Netzer to the German media company Kirch. When Kirch filed for bankruptcy after the turn of the millennium, the old CWL management team founded its own company in 2003: Infront. 

He takes care of the marketing of TV broadcasting rights and perimeter advertising and rises to the position of Managing Director. 

Today, the sports marketing company, headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, has over 900 employees in 35 stores worldwide. Its Executive Director is Günter Netzer until July 2017. 

Interview Günter Netzer "humility", Video: Borussia, 2019, From the collection of: Club museum of Borussia Mönchengladbach
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