Andreas Brehme, who lifted West Germany in 1990 World Cup final, dies at 63

Andreas Brehme, who fired West Germany to the 1990 World Cup title with the only goal in the final against Diego Maradona’s Argentina, has died. He was 63.

Brehme’s partner Susanne Schaefer confirmed his death in a statement to Germany’s dpa news agency on Tuesday. Schaefer said Brehme died “suddenly and unexpectedly” in the night from a cardiac arrest.

“One of Germany’s greatest and best players of all time. German football owes him a lot,” German soccer federation president Bernd Neuendorf said.

Former teammates and others paid tribute to the player who was known affectionately as “Andi” Brehme, a star of German soccer in the 1980s and 1990s.

“I can’t believe it at all. The news of Andreas’ sudden death makes me incredibly sad,” national teammate Rudi Völler said. “Andi was our World Cup hero, but for me, he was much more. He was my close friend and companion to this day. I will miss his wonderful love of life.”

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge played with Brehme at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

“Andi was a great team player, very loyal and dependable. His love of life was contagious and it makes me so sad that he had to leave us at 63,” Rummenigge said.

Kaiserslautern, which won its last Bundesliga title in Brehme’s final season before his retirement in 1998, said it was “deeply saddened” by his unexpected death. Brehme played for the Red Devils for 10 seasons over two stints. The Bundesliga win came after promotion as second-division champion and Brehme also won the German Cup with Kaiserslautern in 1996.

The Hamburg-born Brehme, who played mostly as an attacking left back, will always be associated with West Germany’s 1990 World Cup triumph.

He scored in the semifinal against England, which West Germany eventually won on penalties, and his late penalty decided the final against Argentina. Winning the title brought a wave of national celebrations across Germany, which was in the process of reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall the year before.

Brehme’s title-winning goal in Rome was celebrated a short distance away at Inter Milan, the Italian club he was playing for at the time as part of a formidable German trinity including national teammates Jürgen Klinsmann and Lothar Matthäus.

As captain, Matthäus would normally have taken West Germany’s penalty in the final, but the No. 10 broke his boots in the first half and didn’t feel confident as his replacement boots were too big.

“It was a smart decision to let Andreas Brehme take the penalty,” Matthäus later said.

“Someone has to step up. And for us, it was a case of whoever was feeling confident,” Brehme said in a FIFA interview in 2017. “The main thing is that the penalty goes in and we become world champions.”

Brehme acknowledged the penalty decision was “dubious” though that didn’t stop him from tucking away the spot kick against the previously unbeatable Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Goycochea in the 85th minute. West Germany had dominated the game but found Goycochea in inspired form.

“That night at the Olimpico, facing up against Sergio Goycochea, a fearsome goalkeeper who had already kept out Donadoni and Aldo Serena at the San Paolo, Brehme opted to take with his right (boot). A placed effort, almost caressed towards goal: he zipped it along the floor, right into the bottom left, unstoppable,” Inter wrote on the club website.

Brehme, who wheeled away and jumped in celebration, had already helped Inter to the Serie A title in 1989. He would go to win the UEFA Cup with the club two years later.

“A magnificent player, a true Interista. Ciao Andy, forever a legend,” said Inter, which announced that it would wear black armbands during its Champions League match against Atlético Madrid later Tuesday.

Brehme also won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich in 1987.

“I am incredibly sad about this shocking news,” Bayern honorary president Uli Hoeneß said. “None of us will ever forget Andreas Brehme, because he was more than a goal in the World Cup final in Rome. We’ve lost a great person and a loyal friend.”

Brehme played 86 international games for West Germany and unified Germany.

He also played for Real Zaragoza in Spain before rejoining Kaiserslautern for his second stint.

Brehme went into coaching after winning the Bundesliga with Kaiserslautern, first with the same club, which he led to the semifinals of the UEFA Cup in 2001, and then second-division Unterhaching. His last coaching role was at Stuttgart as assistant to coach Giovanni Trapattoni in the 2005-06 season.

Brehme’s death comes the month after that of his friend Franz Beckenbauer, who coached the World Cup-winning team in 1990.

“As a young boy I had, like probably every boy in Germany had, a Franz Beckenbauer poster hanging above my bed,” Brehme told dpa last month. “Later, he became my boss and I could work with him. And in the end we became close friends. So I have a lot to thank Franz for.”

Reporting by The Associated Press.


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