25. JUNE 2021 THE OLD GAME - GERMANY STRUGGLES INTO THE NEXT ROUND AT THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS
On the night of June 23rd, 2021, a nearly full moon hung over Herzogenaurach. Adi Dassler gleamed in the ideal light; small shadows fell on his angular face, silver spots showed in his wavy hair, and the studs of the soccer shoe in his left hand shone.
Josef Tabachnyk, the sculptor of the bronze Adi Dassler statue, can be proud: When the moon is full, the sculpture, which has sat at adidas headquarters since 2006, comes to life.
This is how he was, the founder of adidas. Easy going, concentrated, his eyes fixed on the pitch, always with a shoe in his hand. A shoe that, in his mind, he should and would continually improve.
The night of June 23rd, 2021, was a special one.
Germany played against Hungary in the last meeting of the preliminary round at the European Championship in Munich. For generations, there has not been a meeting between these two teams in international tournaments. In the last encounters, Adi Dassler was still alive and sitting on the German bench, twisting the appropriate cleats into the players' shoes.
Adi Dassler und Sepp Herberger beim Aufstollen, 1954
The first meeting between the soccer power Hungary and the Germans on June 20, 1954, was a debacle for the German team and their coach, Sepp Herberger. They lost in a 3:8 game. Thankfully, they still managed to qualify for the next round.
Now, in 2021, the German team is the favorite to win. In Munich, where the game is taking place, the world almost comes to a halt during the match. Furious heavy rain and roaring thunderstorms rolled over the Allianz Arena. The Hungarians fought and rallied, nearly kicking the Germans out of the tournament. With a lot of luck and an agonizing 2:2 tie, coach Joachim Löw's players crawled into the next round.
There is a lot of excitement in Germany now. How will we do in the round of 16 against England? Will we have reason to celebrate and cheer? Or will our soccer hopes and dreams be crushed? How can we become European champions?
Meanwhile, in Herzogenaurach, one of the fathers of the German "soccer miracle" sits - day in, day out - in front of the adidas headquarters of the company he invented. Adi Dassler has experienced the full range of emotions, from mourning to exhilaration. The cheers and the silence from the fans. Goals, shots on goalposts, and blunders. Fair and foul, victory, defeat, triumph, and tears. He loved this game, where anything is possible.
No one knows beforehand how the match will end. But if you want to win the game, you must give it your best; that was Dassler's credo. He was the "nation's cobbler"; if he didn't do his job perfectly, the team would get knocked off their feet.
And so, he did his best, Adi Dassler from Herzogenaurach. Undeterred, the only thing that counted for him was a good job.
So much has changed over the years. Germany experienced its economic miracle. The Cold War kept Europe in fear, with an Iron Curtain and a wall - the curtain went to shreds, and the wall crumbled. Soccer players became superstars. European and World Cups are now a billion-dollar business. Computers conquered people, and the globe talks to itself via smartphone. A pandemic quickly paralyzed the earth for a year. But on June 23, 2021, it was the good old story. Twenty-two young men, 44 feet in cleats, one ball, and 90 minutes.
That would have pleased Adi.
In 1954 the Germans went on to win the World Cup. When they celebrated on the pitch in the pouring rain, Adi Dassler stood by and smiled quietly. The bronze statue in the full moon over Herzogenaurach on June 23, 2021, looks exactly like the happy Adi Dassler of that time.