And it’s because of Ali

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Dr.His stories from a bygone era cannot really be expected from a contemporary person today. The sharp thesis of this author Oscar Beck should be seen in itself as a pessimism about the goal. Sports journalist born in 1949 got intoxicated with everything he saw, lived, absorbed and felt, thus publishing it during his 50 years as a journalist.

He was not a crazy reporter, his texts are very practical for that. His expeditions led to the stories behind the stories. Why was Johan Cruyff just a shadow of himself in the 1974 World Cup final in Munich? Yes, Hans Hubert Vogts’ “burrow” was chasing him, but that’s only half the story. Nothing more will be revealed at this point. The personal record of those that Beck devotes himself to going from André Agassi to Zinedine Zidane.

But where is the minimum age for “Late Born”, as Beck addresses those who have had such notable names as Dieter Baumann, George Best, Hans Blickensdorfer, Jimmy Connors, Joachim Dekarem, Helmut Haller, Armin Harry, Ben Johnson, Billie Jean King, Rudolph Kritlin, Gustav “Bobby” Schulze or Mike Tyson could still do absolutely everything? It’s a promise: for those born too late, it’s an entertaining journey through time and discovery, and for those of us who are nostalgic for the old classroom, it’s a encounter with the influence of aha.

Beck is someone who shows a clear advantage and formulates it accordingly. Referee Gottfried Denst, who awarded the English a goal against Helmut Schön decades ago (goal or not?), Is punished by the Swabian who admitted he was an “atheist whistle”. Beck takes up the toothpaste story of his compatriot Bowman, in the tax case Ole Hoeness excels when imprisoned, out of pity rather than malice.


Oscar Beck: “And it’s because of Ali.” Stories from 50 years of sport. Editions Debuts, Stuttgart 2021, hardcover, 432 pages, € 29.
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By Beck’s admission, he only reaches a linguistic limit when it comes to praising someone like Messi, when everything has already been said, but also everything. Beck’s treasure chest of quotes is a treasure trove, he retained his constant sympathy for bold genres and became a hazy subject when sport, like fencer Matthias Behr, became the tragedy of his life. Or when Beck remembers Gertrude Ederel, who was the first woman to swim in the English Channel in August 1926 – she was first celebrated by the world, then forgotten by the world.

There is a poem by the realist Vorstopper Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck, without which Franz Beckenbauer, an “extraordinary creature”, would not have become a figure of light. It is an enviable vital language, through which this so-called “pencil sharpener” nowadays comes to work with the aid of a computer. “The number 10 is the diva among the numbers on his back,” a phrase that lasts indefinitely. For him, great sport has always been a great stage with great emotions.

No, it was like that and nothing else

He is a passionate, life-affirming football lover. How else could he have celebrated the football Guenter Netzer dreamed of in London in the European Championship final with an anthem like he did. Church bells were ringing and historians in the galleries dipped their pens in golden ink as if they were electrified, for the unique record of the posterity of the deceased. No, it was no different. Helmut Schön once admitted that he always sifted through the video of the Wembley game when he felt it was a mood enhancer. Beck’s conclusion: “If he took the video with him to heaven, the angels there would always move his guitars aside. “

The time of the economic miracle dragged on, it courted, it endured, and it had an abundance of possibilities for willing clerics. “Back then, football players and journalists could still trust the dialogue,” Beck recalls wistfully. Boulevard and Max Merkel, that bastard Viennese with his “evil courage to face the brutal truth”, played one against two. When Ernst Abel signed with Hamburger SV, the greatest satirist in his class allowed himself to remark that his Austrian compatriot on the training bench looked “like Beethoven in the final”.

It’s a question of self-sacrifice when Beck answers the question of whether everything was better in the past with the phrase, “Everything was different in the past.” Then, after examining the state of the sport and its place in society, he at least admits that he mourned the good old days. His “crazy days as a journalist, when luck and luck shake hands at the same time” were neither luck nor luck, but the essence of his curiosity and his passion. They made it the subject of his book.


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