(DAPD photo) — East Germany midfielder RICO STEINMANN of hometown side FC Karl Marx Stadt attempts to run through the tackle during the courageous, come-from-behind 2-1 defeat of the Soviet Union in the World Cup qualification match at the Ernst Thaelmann Stadion in early October, 1989; the win set up for the East Germans what appeared to be a winner-take-all meeting in mid-November with Austria for at ticket to Italia ’90. (DAPD photo)
“We had a real strong team and should have won against the Austrians,” former East Germany international striker ULF KIRSTEN, then of Dynamo Dresden, stated in Der Tagesspiel twenty years later.
Unfortunately for Kirsten and the rest of the national football team of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik, perhaps it was, in the end, too great of a distraction — the Fall of the Berlin Wall — to contend with a scant six days before the final World Cup qualification match with Austria in Vienna.
“After the fall of the wall GDR players were my topic,” revealed the former successful general manager of West German Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen, REINER CALMUND.
Bayer Leverkusen were, of course, the very same club that had signed the pair of East Germans, FALKO GOETZ and DIRK SCHLEGEL, after their defection from Dynamo Berlin prior to a 1983 European Cup match against Partizan Belgrade in Yugoslavia.
By the fall of 1989, both Goetz and Schlegel had since departed the North Rhine-Westphalian club. Although Calmund had only become general manager to start the 1987-88 campaign, the executive had been with the Bundesliga club in various capacities, including youth director and match announcer, since 1976. And so, Bayer Leverkusen quickly dispatched two scouts and a negotiator to Austria with a very specific wish list that required attention.
Former FC Karl Marx Stadt midfielder RICO STEINMANN, who would transfer from re-named FC Chemnitz to 1.FC Koeln for a fee of 3.6 million Deutsche Mark to start the 1991-92 season, recalled all the player agents and various team representatives hanging around at the Sportschule Lindabrunn in Vienna where the East German team were camped before the decisive World Cup qualifier with Austria at the Praterstadion on November 15, 1989.
Previously, this situation would have never been tolerated by the standard accompanying East German security apparatus, whose thoroughness would have never let such Western ‘professional parasites’ anywhere near their top national team players.