Football legend Dettmar Cramer dies aged 90

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Football legend Dettmar Cramer dies aged 90
Dettmar Cramer in 1976. Photo: DPA

Dettmar Cramer, the manager of the great Bayern Munich team of the mid-1970s and "father of modern football" in Japan, died on Thursday at the age of 90.


The manager who won more European Cups with Bayern Munich than any other manager in the club's history died at his Bavarian home in Reit im Winkl on Thursday evening.

Cramer was widely credited for establishing football as a professional sport in Japan and also managed the United States national team.

"We've lost a great trainer and a large personality. Dettmar Cramer was an ambassador for German football recognized around the world." said DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach on Friday. 

Father of Japanese football

Born on April 4th 1925, Cramer made his way up through the coaching system of the German football federation (DFB) until he was assigned to assist the Japanese national team in their preparations for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

During his time in Japan, he worked to establish a national league and a professionalized coaching system and Japan went on to record a surprise win against Argentina at the 1964 Olympics. Four years later, the Japanese team picked up a bronze medal in Mexico.

Cramer is so respected in Japan that he became known as the "father of modern football" there and in 2005 he was initiated into the Japanese Football Hall of Fame.

European Cup success

Back in Germany, he worked as an assistant for the national team in the late 1960s. He earned the nickname "the professor" for his avid attention to detail and was also known as "Napoleon" due to his diminutive 161cm stature.

Dettmar Cramer in 2013. Photo: DPA

In 1974, Cramer briefly served as manager of the United States soccer team before being offered a job by Bayern Munich.

He won the European Cup in both of his seasons at the club, establishing them on a level with Real Madrid as one of the giants of European football.

Cramer's Bayern Munich team, containing legends such as Franz Beckenbauer, Sepp Maier and Gerd Müller, is widely considered as one of the greatest club sides of all time.

After leaving Bayern in 1977, Cramer went on to manage Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen with mixed success. In 2002 he retired from football.

Bayern Munich President Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who played under Cramer in the 70s, paid tribute to him on Friday.

"For many people, Dettmar Cramer was more than just a sportsperson," Rummenigge said. "He was like a father to me and he was the most influential person on my young footballing career."


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