Bernd Bransch, captain of the East German World Cup, died at the age of 77

Bernd Bransch, captain of the East German World Cup, died at the age of 77

Bernd Bransch, the East German captain who led his country to its lone World Cup victory over West Germany in a significant Cold War victory, has died. He was 77 years old at the time. Hallescher FC, Bransch’s old club, announced on Sunday that he died on Saturday after a “long, serious illness.”

Both teams qualified from the first group stage, but East Germany was eliminated in the next round while West Germany won the tournament with a 2-1 win over the Netherlands in the final.

Bransch was East Germany’s answer to West Germany’s charismatic star Franz Beckenbauer. Both guys led their national teams and were sweepers, sitting deep in defence with plenty of room to launch counterattacks.

Bransch’s biggest career success came two years later when he won the Olympic gold medal with East Germany, coming on as a substitute in the 3-1 win over Poland in the final. In those days, the Olympic soccer tournament was strictly for amateurs, though satellite states of the Soviet Union like East Germany tended to dominate with squads of players who were registered as amateur but who played and trained full-time.

Hallescher FC, which was known as HFC Chemie in the East German league during Bransch’s playing days, said he retired in 1977 and later served as club president.

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