Review: Tor! The Story of German Football

Posted 15 December, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Tor! The Story of German Football
By: Uli Hesse
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Germany did not have professional players or a national league until the 1960s, yet it became one of the most successful football nations in the world. Tor! (Goal!) traces the extraordinary story of Germany’s club and international football, from the days when it was regarded as a dangerously foreign pastime, through the horrors of the Nazi years to postwar triumphs and the crisis of the new century.

Tor! challenges the myth that German football is predictable or efficient and brings to life the fascinating array of characters who shaped it: the betrayed pioneer Walther Bensemann; the enigmatic genius Sepp Herberger; the all-conquering Franz Beckenbauer; the modern misfit Lothar Matthäus. And even the radio commentator Herbert Zimmermann, whose ecstatic cries of Tor! greeted the winning goal in the 1954 World Cup final and helped change a whole nation s view of itself. This new edition brings events up to date, examining the effect that hosting the 2006 World Cup had on the country, and how German club football has become the most talked-about in Europe, culminating in the 2013 Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

I was recently on the hunt for football-themed books about the history of the sport (being the fan that I am). But as a Germany NT suppoter, it was a book on German football that interested me the most. At first all of my searches for this book came out as sold out or overly-pricey secondhand copies of this book. Then I learned that there was a revised edition of the book and that it was as recent as 2013. You may have seen my flailing a few weeks ago on Instagram when the book arrived 😉

What can I say about the book? It’s absolutely perfect for Germany NT supporters, fans, those who were curious about German football after their World Cup win. It goes over the development of the sport from the 19th century right up to Bayern Munich’s Champions League win in 2013. It can be a bit of an information overload at times, with lots of unfamiliar names thrown out there, but it weaves nicely with the historical developments in the country–before Germany was the georgraphical entity we know today, and after–and you can see how each period shaped the league into what we know it today as. I really enjoyed learning how certain phrases came to be (“Das Ball ist Rund”, shouts of “Tor!”) and the establishment of Puma and Adidas, how the clubs developed and why their names seem so different compared to others. In short, it’s really informative.

If I had any quibbles about this book, it’s 1) Okay, I was surprised there were some picture inserts, but strangely enough there’s a big jump between the 1970s and 2000s. Would’ve wanted to see photos included from 1990 when they won the World Cup then; and 2) the last chapter on the reinvention of German football after 1990 ad “the project” they held since 2002 could’ve been longer/more comprehensive. Granted, I’m more familiar with that narrative having started to follow them around 2006, but still, I would’ve appreciated more info from their recent campaigns in the World Cup and the Euro.

But overall I was really pleased in reading Tor!, I learned a lot about German football, both national and the Bundesliga. I wonder if it’ll be revised again in light of recent successes? 😉 In any case, I highly recommend it to all German NT supporters, as well as football enthusiasts.

Rating: ★★★★★

Learn more about the author on Wikipedia || Order this book from the Book Depository

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