Euro 1996 Legends: Matthias Sammer, Germany

The heir to Franz Beckenbaur's throne, Sammer's excellent displays as sweeper for Germany led them to their third European title...

Matthias Sammer

Date Of Birth: 5 September, 1967

Place Of Birth: Dresden, Germany

Height: 1.80m

Playing Position: Sweeper


Matthias Sammer started his playing career as a central midfielder and later played as a sweeper or a central defender. He started his playing career with Dynamo Dresden in East Germany and moved to VfB Stuttgart when Germany became a unified nation. He was one the first notable East German players to join a Western club. After two years in Stuttgart, Sammer had a short spell with Inter Milan but moved to Borussia Dortmund within a year. He enjoyed relative success there and quickly became a club favourite with his energetic performances. However, his career ended earlier than expected because a serious knee injury forced him to retire in 1998.


“Unified Success”

The 1996 European Championship in England was a tournament of many firsts. It was the first time that the name "Euro" was used for this competition, first time a unified German team was participating and first when 16 nations were competing for the trophy. Russia, Croatia and Czech Republic were taking part as indepedent countries for the first time after their separation from previous unions.

A unified Germany was led by Jurgen Kohler in the absense of captian Jurgen Klinsmann in the first match against Czech Republic. However, a tournament ending injury to Kohler threatened Germany's defensive stability but Sammer's composed and cultured displays as sweeper during the tournament saw him likened to Franz Beckenbaur. Such was his influence and leadership of the side; qualities that came naturally rather than instruction from the coach. Germany eased past the Czechs 2-0 before beating Russia 3-0. Sammer broke the deadlock with a neat chip shot over the Russian goalkeeper.

Sammer scored the winner against Croatia

A draw with Italy in the last group game meant Germany faced Croatia in the quarterfinals. Croatia were simply wasteful in front of the goal and paid the price when Jurgen Klinsmann sent the Germans 1-0 up with a penalty in the 20th minute. The Croatians were given a life line when Davor Suker equalised but thanks to Matthias Sammer's goal just three minutes after Igor Stimac's red card, Germany were able to setup a semifinal meeting with hosts, England. A 6-5 victory in the shootout after a 1-1 draw meant that the final would be a replay of the 1976 final. Oliver Bierhoff's extra time Golden Goal crowned Germany as Champions of Europe for the third time in their history as they beat Czech Republic 2-1. It was the first time a tournament was decided by a Golden Goal. Matthias Sammer was named as Player of the Tournament for his excellent performances in England.


Matthias Sammer was one of the most accomplished defenders of his time. He is a two time winner of the East German Premier League and a three time winner of the Bundesliga. Sammer won the Champions League in 1996-97 with Dortmund before going on to win the Intercontinental Cup in 1997. Along with the gold medal at Euro 1996, he was twice voted German Player of the Year and winner of the European Player of the Year in 1996.

 “Post Retirement”

After a serious knee injury ended his career in 1998, Sammer quickly took up the vacant managerial position at Borussia Dortmund. He led his old club to the German championship in 2002 and ended runners up in the UEFA Super Cup. After leaving Borussia in 2004, he had a short stint with VfB Stuttgart but resigned only after one year at the club. In April 2006, he was appointed technical director of the German Football Association on a five year contract.

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