Thursday, January 11, 2018

East Germany (GDR/DDR) Greatest All-Time Team

East Germany beat West Germany at the WC Finals in 1974

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

East German players after 1990
Eastern German regional team (Not only GDR)
German Americans/American Germans
German Turks 
German-born Players Capped by Other National Teams
Germany All-Time Team After Beckenbauer
Germany All-Time Team before 1972

This is the all-time team for East Germany (GDR). If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.

During the existence of  German Democratic Republic (East Germany), the country was known as a sporting power, but they never could match West Germany for football. Their lone achievement was winning the Gold Medal at the 1976 Olympics beating Poland in the Final.  Poland actually fielded a team almost identical to their World Cup team in 1974, where they finished a respectable third.  East Germany qualified for their only World Cup Finals in 1974, hosted by West Germany.  In that tournament, they also beat West Germany in their one and only ever encounter between the two states. The victory put East Germany ahead of West Germany in the group standing.

East Germany won the 1986 European Under-18 Championship beating the talented Yugoslavia in the quarterfinal.  At the World Youth Championship in 1987, they narrowly lost to Yugoslavia and finished 3rd.  Yugoslavia was known for its Golden team. Matthias Sammer was the star of the team.  I believe East Germany might have their Golden era from1996 to 2006. They would probably be a force.
1976 Olympic Gold Medal
GK: Jürgen Croy
Jürgen Croy was probably one of the greatest keepers of his generations.  He spent his entire career with BSG Sachsenring Zwickau (today FSV Zwickau). He was one of East Germany's few international players not to play for a top club.  He was capped 86 caps.  He won the Gold medal in 1976 Olympic Games and went to the 1974 World Cup Finals in East Germany, the East German pulled an upset over West Germany.
Jürgen Croy
GK: Bodo Rudwaleit
Bodo Rudwaleit played during most of his career for the football club Berliner FC Dynamo where he was East German champion ten times in a row from 1979 to 1988. He also played for Eisenhüttenstädter FC Stahl and Tennis Borussia Berlin. He was the number one keeper for the East German national team for nearly a decade. He played for East Germany at the 1980 Summer Olympics.

GK: René Müller
Müller was first-choice goalkeeper of the East German national team for much of the 1980s, and was twice East German Footballer of the Year. He played for 1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig for fourteen years, and later had spells with FC Sachsen Leipzig, Dynamo Dresden and FC St. Pauli.  With Lokomotive Leipzig, he reached the Final of 1987 European Cup Winners' Cup Final

RB: Klaus Urbanczyk
Urbanczyk played for Chemie Halle and later Hallescher FC Chemie – in the DDR-Oberliga.  He played for East Germany between 1961 and 1969. In 1964, he won a Bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics for the Unified German team(only East German players were used). In the same year, Urbanczyk won the East German Sportsperson of the Year award – the only time that a footballer won the award. He also won the East German Footballer of the Year award that year.

RB: Gerd Kische 
Kische played for FC Hansa Rostock from 1970 to 1981. On the national level, he played for the East German national team (59 and 63 matches respectively). He won his first cap in 1971 against Mexico. He was a participant at the 1974 FIFA World Cup, where he played every matches. He also played every single at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal as East Germany won the Gold Medal.

CM/SW: Matthias Sammer
With Borussia Dortmund as a player, Sammer won the Bundesliga and DFL-Supercup in 1995, the Bundesliga, DFL-Supercup, and European Footballer of the Year in 1996, and the UEFA Champions League and Intercontinental Cup in 1997. He also played for Inter Milan and Dynamo Dresden. With Die Mannschaft as a player, Sammer won the UEFA Euro 1996, where he was named the tournament's best player, and was subsequently awarded the Ballon d'Or later that year. Sammer retired with 74 total caps, 23 for East Germany and 51 for the unified side.  
Matthias Sammer
CB: Lothar Kurbjuweit 
Kurbjuweit played for Stahl Riesa (1965–1970) and FC Carl Zeiss Jena (1970–1983). With Carl Zeiss Jena, he reached the Final of the 1981 Cup Winners' Cup as their captain. He had 66 caps.  He won the Olympic Bronze Medal in 1972 and then, the Gold Medal in 1976.  He was a participant of the World Cup team in 1974, where GDR qualified for the first and only time .

CB: Dirk Stahmann
Dirk Stahmann played his entire career with FC Magdeburg and widely considered to be their greatest ever player.  Despite the decline of 1. FC Magdeburg following German reunification, Stahmann stayed with the club in tier IV. At age 36, he played his final competitive match for his club. Between 1985 and 1994, he was the team's captain. He had 46 caps.

SW: Hans-Jurgen Dorner
Hans-Jurgen Dorner joined Dynamo Dresden in 1968 where he won five first division DDR-Oberliga titles and five FDGB-Pokale (East German Cup). He captained Dynamo Dresden from 1977 to his retirement, and is the clubs most decorated captain and he was voted the teams greatest ever player in 1999.  He was capped 96 times for East Germany, winning a gold medal as vital part of that country's Olympic team at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
Hans-Jurgen Dorner
SW: Konrad Weise 
Konrad Weise was born in 1951.  He played his career at senior level for FC Carl Zeiss Jena between 1970 and 1986. He had over 80 caps between 1970 to 1981 for East Germany.  He ranked 4th in appearance record for the East German national team. He was a member of the 1974 World Cup team.  He also won a Gold medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics and bronze four years earlier in Munich.  

SW/LB: Bernd Bransch 
Bernd Bransch was remembered for being the captain of the East German team at the 1974 World Cup Finals, where East Germany beat West Germany. He had 64 caps between 1967 and 1976.  He also won the Gold Medal at the 1976 Olympics.  He was the  East German Footballer of the Year twice (1968 and 1974).  He played his entire career for SC Chemie,  except for the 1973/74 season, in which he played for FC Carl Zeiss Jena. 
Bernd Bransch (R)
CM/DM: Reinhard Lauck 
Lauck played for 1. FC Union Berlin between 1968 and 1973. He moved to BFC Dynamo in 1973.  He led BFC Dynamo to win three East German championships in a row.  He also played for FC Energie Cottbus. He played for East Germany national team 33 times, and was a participant at the 1974 FIFA World Cup. He was one of the heros during the victory over West Germany in 1974.

AM/CM: Dieter Erler 
Erler played with Chemie Glauchau and Wismut Gera before moving SC Wismut Karl-Marx-Stadt in 1959.  In 1963, Erler moved to SC Karl-Marx-Stadt, where he played alongside Eberhard Vogel. In 1966–67 the team was crowned DDR-Oberliga champion. Between 1959 and 1968, he earned 47 caps and scored 12 goals for East Germany. He was voted GDR footballer of the year in 1967.

AM/CM: Dariusz Wosz
Born in Poland, he started his career in East Germany. He started with Chemie Halle in 1984.  Wosz was transferred to VfL Bochum in 1991. As captain, he led Bochum to its biggest success yet: the third round of the 1997–98 UEFA Cup.  He also played for Hertha Berlin.  Capped 7 times for East Germany and 17 times for Germany.  He went to Euro 2000.

LW: Eberhard Vogel
Vogel was one of the greatest East German footballers. Vogel played for FC Karl-Marx-Stadt (1961–1970) and FC Carl Zeiss Jena (1970–1982). His 440 appearances for both clubs combined was the record for East German top-flight football. For the national team, he played for the East German national team 74 times, and was a participant at the 1974 FIFA World Cup. In 1969, he won the award for the GDR Footballer of the Year.
Eberhard Vogel
AM: Jürgen Nöldner
Nicknamed "the Puskás of the DDR",  he spent his entire career with Vorwärts Berlin, winning East German champion five times. He won 30 caps and scoring 16 goals, including a goal against Austria which was the fastest in the national team's history. He was part of the all-East German team that represented Germany at the 1964 Summer Olympics, winning the bronze medal. In 1966 he was voted East German Footballer of the Year. 

AM: Thomas Doll
Doll began his career with lBSG Lokomotiv Malchin, before joining DDR-Oberliga side Hansa Rostock. In 1986 he was transferred to Berliner FC Dynamo, where he won two East Germany titles (in 1987 in 1988). After reunification Doll was one of the most sought-after East German players. He played for Hamburger SV, Lazio, Eintracht Frankfurt and Bari. He played for both East Germany and Germany. He went to Euro 1992 for Germany.

FW: Jürgen Sparwasser
Sparwasser started his playing career with BSG Lokomotive Halberstadt in 1956. In 1965 he moved to 1. FC Magdeburg.  He was part of the team that won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1974. Between 1969 and 1977, he played in 49 times for East Germany. He also made six appearances for East Germany at the 1974 World Cup finals, where he scored the winning goal in a politically prestigious match against West Germany.
Jürgen Sparwasser
ST: Peter Ducke
Ducke was born in 1941 in Benesov, which was then a part of Sudetenland.  His family moved to Magdeburg after the War. He played most of his career for FC Carl Zeiss Jena (1959–1977). On the national level he played for East Germany national team in 63 matches (15 goals), and was a participant at the 1974 FIFA World Cup.  In the GDR, he was given the nickname Schwarzer Peter (English: Black Peter).

ST: Hans-Jürgen Kreische 
Kreische spent his entire career with his hometown club, Dynamo Dresden, scoring 127 goals in 234 DDR-Oberliga games between 1964 and 1978. He was East Germany's top scorer in 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1976, and was player of the year in 1973.  Kreische was an East German international, scoring 25 goals in 50 appearances. He was part of the 1974 World Cup squad, and was also in the 1972 Olympic bronze medal winning team. 

FW: Andreas Thom
Thom played as a forward for Dynamo Berlin, Bayer Leverkusen, Celtic and Hertha Berlin. In December, 1989, Thom became the first East German to sign for a Bundesliga club when he joined Bayer Leverkusen. He was also among the first group of former DDR player to play for the unified Germany.  He played 51 times for East Germany and played 10 times for the unified German national team in the early 1990s.  He went to Euro 1992.
Andreas Thom
ST: Martin Hoffmann 
Hoffmann played from 1973 to 1985 for 1. FC Magdeburg in the East German top division. With Magdeburg, he won the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1974. He also played for the East Germany 62 times and scoring 15 goals between 1973 and 1981. In 1974, he played in the 1974 FIFA World Cup. In 1976, he was in the East German team which won the gold medal in the Summer Olympics in Montreal. 

ST: Joachim Streich 
Joachim played as a striker for Aufbau Wismar from 1957 to 1963, TSG Wismar from 1963 to1967), Hansa Rostock from 1967 to 1975, and 1. FC Magdeburg from 1975 to 1985. Between 1969 and 1984, he was capped 102 times for East Germany, scoring 55 goals. He was their cap record holder and all-time leading scorer.

ST: Ulf Kirsten
Ulf Kirsten started with Dynamo Dresden.  He was one of the first East German footballers to enter the Bundesliga after the German reunification. In the German Bundesliga he played 350 matches for Bayer Leverkusen and scored 182 goals.  Kirsten's 100 caps are almost evenly split: 49 for East Germany and 51 for the re-unified Germany. Kirsten played for his country at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups and Euro 2000.
Ulf Kirsten
Honorable Mention
Manfred Kaiser, Günter Schröter, Otto Fräßdorf, Wolfram Löwe, Rainer Ernst, Olaf Marschall, Jürgen Pommerenke, Hans-Ulrich Grapenthin.

Special Honorable Mention (players born in Eastern Germany, but did not play for DDR
Richard Hofmann, Matthias Herget, Erwin Helmchen, Helmut Schön.

Squad Explanation
-- Only players capped by East Germany are considered. I am including East German players who were also capped by the unified Germany. Dariusz Wosz, Matthias Sammer, Ulf Kirsten, Andreas Thom and Thomas Doll were capped by both East Germany and the unified Germany. 
-- Jürgen Croy, Eberhard Vogel and Hans-Jurgen Dorner were highly rated.  They probably would have earned caps with West Germany if they were born in the West. 
-- Jürgen Croy was widely considered one of the best in his generation. If he played for an unified Germany, he would be overshadowed by Sepp Maier, who was two years older.  Hans-Jurgen Dorner would have been Franz Beckenbauer's successor as Germany's sweeper. He would have played a major role at the 1978 World Cup Finals, the 1980 European Championship and the 1982 World Cup Finals. Eberhard Vogel was born on the same year as Wolfgang Overath who sometimes occupied Germany's left midfield spot.  Left winger Jupp Heynckes was two years younger which would make it difficult for Vogel to be an impact player for the German national team.  He would probably picked up some caps.
-- In 1974, East Germany qualified for their only time in World Cup Finals.  They played West Germany on 22 June 1974, in a group game of the 1974 World Cup, held in West Germany. It was the only time that the two sides met at the senior national team level, The game in Hamburg, in front of 62,000, was won 1–0 by East Germany courtesy of a goal by Jürgen Sparwasser.  The game was a historical moment for East Germany.  The following players made this all-time team: Jürgen Croy, Eberhard Vogel, Joachim Streich, Martin Hoffmann, Hans-Jürgen Kreische, Reinhard Lauck, Bernd Bransch, Konrad Weise, Lothar Kurbjuweit, Gerd Kische and Jürgen Sparwasser. Hans-Jurgen Dorner did not go to the World Cup Finals.
-- In the 1990's, East Germany might enter a golden age and qualify for a few major tournaments, but the unification stopped that.  They almost qualified for Italia 1990 with Matthias Sammer, Ulf Kirsten and Andreas Thom.  They only needed a draw against Austria on the last match of the World Cup Qualifiers. The trio later contributed a lot to the German national team after the reunification in 1990. Thomas Doll also played that match as a sub.  He would become an important player at Euro 1992 for Germany. Dariusz Wosz and Olaf Marschall had been capped by DDR. These players could become the greatest generation of East German stars. Instead, Germany reunified and East Germany came to an end.
-- Robert Enke, Carsten Jancker, Jörg Heinrich, Thomas Linke, Bernd Schneider and Michael Ballack emerged in the late 1990's. They never played for DDR, but were groomed by East German clubs.  They were ineligible for this blog team as they never played for East Germany. See East German Players after 1990 here.
-- I do not know if Lutz Eigendorf and Falko Götz were good enough to be considered to be all-time greats. They were well-known because they deflected to the West.  Lutz Eigendorf was the only active player who had capped for East Germany when he deflected.  Jürgen Sparwasser had retired when he left the East. Norbert Nachtweih also deflected to West Germany. He had a great career in the Bundesliga.  He also played with a young Zinedine Zidane at Cannes.  Unfortunately, I did not consider him because he was uncapped at the senior level.  The other deflectors I knew of are Horst Assmy, Marco Köller and Axel Kruse.  
-- Thomas Doll was selected for his performance with Germany. He was very young when he played for East Germany. Before his injury, he was becoming a key player for Germany. His career would have been different if he stayed injury free.
-- The United Team of Germany won a bronze medal at the 1964 Olympics.  The team consisted entirely of East German players. The two German teams played each other for the right to represent Germany in three Olympics(1956, 1960, and 1964).  East Germany team went to both 1960 and 1964 Olympics as the German team.  
-- In 1972, East and West Germany also met at the Olympics hosted in Munich, West Germany.  The East German, playing with its full team beat West Germany 3-2.
-- Andreas Thom was the first East Geramn to join a West German team after the fall of East Germany.
-- Matthias Herget was born in 1955 in Annaberg-Buchholz, East Germany, but he grew up in West Germany.  He earned 39 caps for West Germany between 1983 and 1988.  So he is ineligible for this team.
-- Richard Hofmann played for Germany between 1927 and 1933.  In all, he played 25 times for the national team, scoring 24 goals.  He is eligible because he did not play for DDR.
-- Helmut Schön was born in Dresden. He is best remembered for his exceptional career as manager of the West German national team in four consecutive World Cup tournaments, including winning the title in 1974. As a player, he was capped 16 times.

I moved Sammer to the midfield, where he also played in his career. I could not really decide between Jürgen Nöldner and Thomas Doll. Doll played great for two seasons before an injury limited his career. He deserved his start. I did not want to start two sweepers.  So Kurbjuweit played instead of Konrad Weise, who was highly rated.


  1. Thank you very much for this interesting insight on a sport team that often stood outside the spotlight behind the hyped (and often doping-pushed) single and relay competitions.

    I was born in the GDR in the mid-80s, growing up in a re-unified country and getting into football when Germany won the Euro Cup in '96. My grandpa used to play for a Magdeburg club the 50s and 60s before the 1. FC was founded, and he still enthuses about the team that won the only international title in '74.