The former captain of the GDR national soccer team Bernd Bransch is dead. As his long-standing club Hallescher FC learned from the family, the 77-year-old died on Saturday after a long illness.

Bransch wore the jersey of the national team 72 times and was Olympic champion with the team in 1976 and third in the 1972 Olympics. In the only World Cup participation by a GDR selection, Bransch captained the team in 1974 in the Federal Republic.

After Hans-Jürgen Dörner and Joachim Streich, Bransch is the third prominent East German footballer to die this year.

“On behalf of all members, active players, fans, sponsors, employees and committee representatives, I would like to express our heartfelt condolences to the family of Bernd Bransch. It is up to all of us to cherish the memory of our honorary member, one of the most important personalities of the club and the most important ambassador of the city of Halle, and to continue his legacy,” said HFC President Jens Rauschenbach.

Bransch played almost 300 times for SC Chemie Halle and its successor Hallescher FC Chemie. In 1968 and 1974 he was voted “GDR Footballer of the Year”.

After the relegation of Halle in 1973, Bransch, who had been converted from a striker to a libero, joined FC Carl Zeiss Jena, with whom he won the cup in the same season – his only title win at club level. For the 1974/75 season he returned to the newly promoted HFC. He scored 43 goals for his clubs in the GDR Oberliga.