Soccer legend Uwe Seeler is dead. The 72-time national player and DFB honorary captain died on Thursday at the age of 85, as his former club Hamburger SV confirmed, citing the Seelers family. First the “image” had reported about it.

Seeler was present at four World Cup tournaments, was runner-up in the 1966 World Cup in England and third in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. As one of the best center forwards of his time, he was a club icon for Hamburger SV, for which he played during his active career. From 1952 to 1973 “Uns Uwe” played for HSV and was a member of the German national team for 16 years. Because of his services to German football, he was named honorary captain of the national team.

He was the epitome of down-to-earthness, modesty, honesty and loyalty. The popularity of the former top scorer par excellence was not only based on his sporting fame with back-of-the-head goals and overhead kicks, but also on his human qualities. “The best thing in the world is to be normal,” said the bearer of the Great Federal Cross of Merit before his 85th birthday in November 2021. “I’m perfectly normal, and I like that.”

This included resisting an offer of millions from Inter Milan in 1961. Seeler preferred home and family. Despite all the sporting successes, one dream remained unfulfilled. “If I’ve been to four world championships, I would have liked to have won the title once. But I wasn’t lucky. Still, everything was beautiful. I don’t miss anything,” said Seeler.

His track record: more than 400 competitive goals for HSV, 72 international matches with 43 goals between 1954 and 1970, three times footballer of the year, German champion and cup winner.

He was married to his wife Ilka for more than 63 years. When “little mouse”, as Ilka Seeler affectionately called her husband, had taken on too much appointments, she was his corrective. Three daughters were born of their marriage. Her grandson Levin Öztunali is a fixture in the Bundesliga.

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz: “Germany mourns the loss of “Us Uwe”. He was a role model for many, a football legend and of course an honorary citizen of Hamburg. For his 80th birthday I was allowed to give the after-dinner speech: “We all want to be like Us Uwe: self-confident and modest.”

National coach Hansi Flick: “Uwe Seeler was a role model for generations of national players. With his down-to-earth, modest and reserved manner, he also inspired people off the pitch and won them over. His name is a symbol of club loyalty and loyalty. He was on the pitch at four World Cups himself, later he accompanied our national team to tournaments as honorary captain and part of the DFB delegation, for example to South Africa in 2010. We have always enjoyed having him around. Uwe Seeler inspired us. All of us in the national team and in the DFB will miss him very much.”

Bernd Neuendorf, President of the German Football Association: “In Uwe Seeler we are losing one of the best footballers Germany has ever had. (…) But Uwe Seeler had an impact far beyond the football field. His down-to-earthness, his modesty and his connection to his hometown of Hamburg distinguished him throughout his life. With his foundation, he supported people in need and those who were in need through no fault of their own. He was also passionately committed to the DFB Sepp Herberger Foundation. His death makes us incredibly sad.”

Herbert Hainer, President of FC Bayern: “Uwe Seeler’s death hits the soul of German football deep down. “Us Uwe” was a folk hero, there wasn’t a fan in Germany who didn’t admire him. Seeler has moved the nation – even beyond the game. Personally, I was lucky enough to be able to work with him for a long time and to get to know him as a special person who approached everyone warmly, friendly and openly. FC Bayern is united in mourning with his family, relatives and friends.

Rudi Völler: “I’m scared. My thoughts are with his family, to whom I offer my deepest condolences. Uwe was a wonderful person, one of the greatest German sporting idols has left us.”

Jonas Boldt, Hamburger SV board member: “The news of Uwe’s death caused me deep sadness, because we had a close, friendly relationship. As a member of Uwe Seeler’s traditional team, I was with him in Brazil and Mexico when we played for the earthquake victims. There is nobody who didn’t like Uwe Seeler. That’s why my heartfelt condolences go not only to Uwe’s family, but to the entire HSV family.”

Germany’s first footballer of the year has recently struggled with health problems. Since a car accident in 2010, he has been deaf in his right ear and complained of balance problems. In addition, Seeler received a pacemaker and had to have a tumor in his shoulder removed.

He recently fell several times in his house in Norderstedt. He once fractured his right hip and three ribs. He was then fitted with an artificial hip joint. After that he had to use a walking stick. In a fall a few weeks earlier, he had broken a finger and torn his right shin.