Bildnummer: 00393060 Datum: 08.07.1982 Copyright: imago/WEREK Torwart Harald Schumacher (BR Deutschland) streckt Patrick Battiston (Frankreich) nieder, re. Manfred Kaltz; BRD - Frankreich 8:7 n.E., Toni, Vdia, quer, Torhüter, Keeper, Duell, Zweikampf, Dreikampf, Ball, brutal, brutales Foul, Foulspiel, gefoult, Härte, Tritt, treten Weltmeisterschaft 1982, Halbfinale, Länderspiel, Nationalmannschaft, Nationalteam, Nationaltrikot Sevilla Dynamik, Kampf, Fußball WM Herren Mannschaft Spanien Gruppenbild Aktion Personen Image number 00393060 date 08 07 1982 Copyright imago WEREK Goalkeeper Harald Schumacher BR Germany stretches Patrick Battiston France down right Manfred Kaltz Germany France 8 7 n E Toni Vdia horizontal Goalkeeper Keeper Duel duel Three battle Ball brutal brutal Foul Foul play gefoult Hardness Tritt If World Cup 1982 Semi-finals international match national team National team National jersey Seville Dynamics Fight Football World Cup men Team Spain Group photo Action shot Human Beings

Toni Schumacher never really let go of the legendary night of Seville, also known as the “Thriller of Seville”. French media accused him of “an assassination attempt” and martially called him “a tank”. In a survey, 37 years after the Second World War, the French declared him the most hated German.

But the hostilities did not only come from abroad. Former German soccer goalkeeper Bert Trautmann said: “He did it on purpose and it disgusted me. Schumacher is not a good man. I wouldn’t even let him tie my shoes.”

What happened on that balmy summer night in Andalusia in 1982 that a World Cup semi-final with six goals, 120 minutes and ten penalties faded into the background because of one scene?

Schumacher himself describes it like this: “Platini plays the pass, Battiston starts sprinting, he wants the ball. Me too, I fall out of my goal. The ball bounces again and I realize he’s trying to lob it over me. So I jump up to fend him off. But Patrick doesn’t hit the ball properly. Once you’re in the air, you can’t stop your momentum.”

Schumacher spins to avoid a head-on collision and catches him on the hip. The heavily counted Patrick Battiston (broken cervical vertebrae and concussion) has to be replaced, Schumacher’s action is not even punished with a foul whistle.

After the wild back and forth in the 3: 3 with the following 5: 4 victory of the Germans on penalties, Schumacher said: “There is no compassion among professionals. Tell him I’ll pay him the jacket crowns.” A statement he later called “stupid” and justified it by saying that he feared even worse damage.

The violent public reaction that followed, especially in France, still gives Schumacher food for thought 40 years after the game. “It was the most difficult situation of my life. There were death threats, I received many letters saying we would follow you, and I had personal protection,” he said on Wednesday at the opening of the special exhibition “Night of Seville” in the German Football Museum in the presence of former comrades-in-arms such as Paul Breitner, Pierre Littbarski, Felix Magath, Uli Stielike, and Klaus Fischer.

The game in Seville, analogous to the Wembley goal in 1966 or the game of the century in 1970, still moves German football. There are now two books (“The Night of Seville”) by the journalist Stephan Klemm and the Dortmund museum director Manuel Neukirchner on the game, as well as a Wikipedia entry.

“I experienced the emotions of a lifetime in this one massive football game. Even if we lost, I was still an actor in a big drama,” said France’s then midfield star Michel Platini, later Uefa President and most recently in court in Switzerland because of a controversial payment of millions.

Littbarski fared like Platini at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. “I would say it was the most iconic game I’ve played. This was close to how I want to watch a football game. I was mesmerized by Italy’s 4-3 win over Germany in 1970. I hoped there would be another game like this – and then this,” said Littbarski. The 62-year-old scored to make it 1-0 and converted a penalty after Germany equalized a 3-1 deficit in extra time.

Above all, the successful catch-up race by the Germans in extra time contributed to the cult status. Breitner had a premonition at 1: 3: “That was the vision I had. If a negative experience comes, the French break down. And then it was 2:3. That was the absolute shock moment for the French. We could sense that they were panicking now.”

Schumacher’s luck was that – unlike in 2022 – no video images could transfer him. When asked by the “Bild” newspaper how his action would be punished today, Schumacher, now 68 years old, replied: “Foul! And yellow or red too. What I always said, and that’s very important to me: It wasn’t on purpose, as was often assumed later. No intention!”

That’s how Littbarski sees it, who casually calls the following furor of the French “only too human”: “The French thought they had reached the final. Of course, you take this huge disappointment personally.”