East Germany national football team

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East Germany
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) "Weltmeister der Freundschaftsspiele" (World champion in friendly games)[1][2]
Association German Football Association of the GDR
Confederation UEFA (Europe)
Most caps Joachim Streich (102)
Top scorer Joachim Streich (55)
Home stadium Zentralstadion, Leipzig[a]
First colours
Second colours
First international
 Poland 3–0 East Germany East Germany
(Warsaw, Poland; 21 September, 1952)
Last International
 Belgium 0–2 East Germany East Germany
(Brussels, Belgium; 12 September 1990)
Biggest win
 Ceylon 1–12 East Germany East Germany
(Colombo, Ceylon; 12 January 1964)
Biggest defeat
East Germany East Germany 1–4 Czechoslovakia 
(Leipzig, East Germany; 27 October 1957)
World Cup
Appearances 1 (first in 1974)
Best result Round 2, 1974 (Ranked 6th)

The East Germany national football team was from 1952 to 1990 the football team of East Germany, playing as one of three post-war German teams, along with Saarland and West Germany.

After German reunification in 1990, the Deutscher Fußball Verband der DDR (DFV), and with it the East German team, joined the Deutscher Fußball Bund (DFB) and the West German national football team that had just won the World Cup.


In 1949, before the GDR was founded and while regular private clubs were still banned under the Soviet occupation, efforts were made to play football anyway. Helmut Schön coached selections of Saxony and the Soviet occupation zone before moving to the West. On 6 February 1951, the GDR applied for FIFA membership, which was protested against by the German Football Association, which was already a full member. FIFA accepted the GDR association (later called DFV) on 6 October 1951 as a provisional member, and on 24 July 1952 as a full member.

The first international game, not competitive but rather a display of good will, took place on 21 September 1952 against Poland in Warsaw, losing 3–0 in front of a crowd of 35,000. The first home game was on 14 June 1953 against Bulgaria, a 0–0 in front of a crowd of 55,000 at Heinz-Steyer-Stadion in Dresden. Only three days later, the Uprising of 1953 in East Germany would have prevented the permitted assembly of that many Germans. On 8 May 1954 games resumed, with a 1–0 loss against Romania. The East Germans had not even considered to enter the World Cup which was won by the West Germans two months later. This caused much euphoria not only in the West, and the GDR tried to counter this by abandoning their policy of presenting a group of socialist role models of their "new German state"; instead, players were selected purely according to ability. The GDR entered the qualification for the WC 1958 and were hosts to Wales on 19 May 1957 at the Zentralstadion in Leipzig. 500,000 tickets were requested, officially 100,000 were admitted, but 120,000 in the crowded house witnessed a 1–0 victory.

East Germany was not as successful as its Western counterpart in World Cups or European Championships. It never qualified for the finals of the European Championship and only qualified for one World Cup, in 1974. However, they were always serious contenders in qualifying throughout their history.

Line-up for the first-ever World Cup finals match

That tournament was staged in West Germany, and both German teams were drawn in the same group in the first round. With successful games against Chile and Australia, both German teams had qualified early for the second round, with the inter-German game determining first and second in group. Despite this lack of pressure to succeed, the match on 22 June 1974 in Hamburg was politically and emotionally charged. East Germany beat West Germany 1–0, thanks to a goal by Jürgen Sparwasser. This was rather a Pyhrric victory, as the DFV wound up in the possibly stronger second round Group A. The GDR lost to Brazil and the Netherlands, but secured 3rd place in a final game draw with Argentina. On the other hand, the DFB team changed its line-up after the loss, and went on to win all games in the other second round group B, against Yugoslavia, Sweden, Poland, and the World title against the Netherlands.

East Germany nearly secured qualification for the 1990 World Cup, needing only a draw versus Austria in Vienna in their final group match on 15 November 1989 to achieve a place in Italy. However, Toni Polster scored three times as Austria won 3–0 and advanced to the finals instead.

Millions of East Germans had moved to the West before the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961, and some escaped in a successful Republikflucht attempts also afterwards. All East Germans were automatically entitled to receive a West German passport, but players who had caps for the DFV, like Norbert Nachtweih and Jürgen Pahl who fled in October 1976 at a U21-match in Turkey, were ineligible for international competition for the DFB due to FIFA rules. Lutz Eigendorf had escaped to the West in 1979 and died in 1983 in a mysterious car crash in which East German Stasi agents were involved.

Shortly after reunification, players who had played for the East German team were allowed by FIFA to be eligible for the now un-rivalled German team of the DFB. See players with caps for both East Germany and unified Germany, like Matthias Sammer and Ulf Kirsten.

Olympic football

Medal record
Olympic Games
Bronze medal – third place 1964 Tokyo Team
Bronze medal – third place 1972 Munich Team
Gold medal – first place 1976 Montreal Team
Silver medal – second place 1980 Moscow Team

East Germany did however achieve significantly greater success in Olympic football than the amateur teams fielded by the Western NOC of Germany. In 1956, 1960, and 1964 both states had sent a United Team of Germany. For 1964, the East German side had beaten their Western counterparts in order to be selected. They went on to win Bronze for Germany. As GDR, they won Bronze in 1972 in Munich, Gold in 1976, and Silver medal in 1980 in Moscow.

East vs. West

The team that played Argentina at La Bombonera of Buenos Aires, July 1977

Over the years of their separate existence, the GDR and FRG played each other only a handful of times. The only notable meeting with professionals from the West was at the 1974 World Cup, which East Germany won 1–0. Three other games were played in Olympic Football where only players with amateur status could represent West Germany, like the young Uli Hoeneß who delayed his pro career in 1972. In the inter-German qualification prior to the 1964 Olympic Games, the two played a two-legged preliminary round tie, the GDR advancing to represent Germany as they won their home leg 3–0, while the FRG won the return 2–1. In the 1972 Olympic Games, the GDR and FRG, having qualified from their First Round groups, met in the Second Round, with the GDR winning 3–2.

Brussels, 1990: saluting the crowd before the last-ever match

The draw for 1992 UEFA European Football Championship qualifying took place on 2 February 1990, with East Germany drawn in Group 5 along with Belgium, Wales, Luxembourg – and West Germany. By 23 August that year, the East German parliament confirmed reunification for 3 October. The planning for the opening fixture away to Belgium on 12 September was too far along to be cancelled, and so it was played as a friendly.[3] It was also planned to play East Germany's home fixture against West Germany, scheduled for 21 November 1990 in Leipzig, as a friendly to celebrate the unification of the DFB and DFV, but the game was cancelled due to rioting in East German stadia.[3]

Competitive record

FIFA World Cup

     Champions       Runners-up       Third Place       Fourth Place  

Year Round Position Pld Won Drawn* Lost GF GA
Switzerland 1954 Did Not Enter
Sweden 1958 Did Not Qualify
Chile 1962
England 1966
Mexico 1970
West Germany 1974 Second Round 6th 6 2 2 2 5 5
Argentina 1978 Did Not Qualify
Spain 1982
Mexico 1986
Italy 1990
Total 1/10 0 Titles 6 2 2 2 5 5

European Championship record

Year Round Position Pld Won Drawn* Lost GF GA
France 1960 Did not qualify
Spain 1964
Italy 1968
Belgium 1972
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 1976
Italy 1980
France 1984
West Germany 1988
Sweden 1992 Withdrew from qualification
Total 0/9 0 Titles 0 0 0 0 0 0

Player records

Most capped players

Below is a list of the 25 players with the most caps for East Germany. The numbers are from the website of the DFB, which include ten qualifying and final tournament games of the Olympics that are no longer counted by FIFA. The numbers counted by FIFA are shown in parentheses.

# Player East Germany career Caps
1 Joachim Streich 1969–1984 102 (98)
2 Hans-Jürgen Dörner 1969–1985 100 (96)
3 Jürgen Croy 1967–1981 94 (86)
4 Konrad Weise 1970–1981 86 (78)
5 Eberhard Vogel 1962–1976 74 (69)
6 Bernd Bransch 1967–1976 72 (64)
7 Peter Ducke 1960–1975 68 (63)
8 Martin Hoffmann 1973–1981 66 (62)
= Lothar Kurbjuweit 1970–1981 66 (59)
10 Ronald Kreer 1982–1989 65 (65)
11 Gerd Kische 1971–1980 63 (59)
12 Matthias Liebers 1980–1988 59 (59)
13 Reinhard Häfner 1971–1984 58 (54)
14 Jürgen Pommerenke 1972–1983 57 (53)
15 Rainer Ernst 1981–1990 56 (56)
= Henning Frenzel 1961–1974 56 (54)
17 Jürgen Sparwasser 1969–1977 53 (48)
18 Andreas Thom 1984–1990 51 (51)
19 Hans-Jürgen Kreische 1968–1975 50 (46)
20 Ulf Kirsten 1985–1990 49 (49)
21 Dieter Erler 1959–1968 47 (45)
= Jörg Stübner 1984–1990 47 (47)
23 René Müller 1984–1989 46 (46)
= Dirk Stahmann 1982–1989 46 (46)
25 Rüdiger Schnuphase 1973–1983 45 (45)

Top goalscorers

Below is a list of the 15 top goalscorers for the GDR. The numbers are from the website of DFB, which include goals scored in ten qualifying and final tournament games of the Olympics that are no longer counted by FIFA. The numbers counted by FIFA are shown in parentheses.

# Player Goals
1 Joachim Streich 55 (53)
2 Hans-Jürgen Kreische 25 (22)
= Eberhard Vogel 25 (24)
4 Rainer Ernst 20 (20)
5 Henning Frenzel 19 (19)
6 Martin Hoffmann 16 (15)
= Jürgen Nöldner 16 (16)
= Andreas Thom 16 (16)
9 Peter Ducke 15 (15)
= Jürgen Sparwasser 15 (14)
11 Ulf Kirsten 14 (14)
12 Günter Schröter 13 (13)
13 Wolfram Löwe 12 (12)
= Dieter Erler 12 (12)
15 Willy Tröger 11 (11)

Players with caps for both East Germany and Germany after 1990

The rules of FIFA prevented players who had caps for the DFV team from playing for the DFB team before the unification of DFB and DFV in 1990. The numbers are from the website of the DFB.

Player East Germany Unified Germany Overall
Caps Goals Caps Goals Caps Goals
Ulf Kirsten 49 14 51 20 100 34
Matthias Sammer 23 6 51 8 74 14
Andreas Thom 51 16 10 2 61 18
Thomas Doll 29 7 18 1 47 8
Dariusz Wosz 7 0 17 1 24 1
Olaf Marschall 4 0 13 3 17 3
Heiko Scholz 7 0 1 0 8 0
Dirk Schuster 4 0 3 0 7 0


See also


a. ^ The East German team had no official home stadium, but 45 of 130 (35%) of their home games were played at the Zentralstadion. Also frequently used for home fixtures were the Stadion der Weltjugend, Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark (both in East Berlin); the Sportforum Chemnitz, Chemnitz; the Ostseestadion, Rostock; and Ernst Grube Stadium, Magdeburg.


  1. ^ Joel, Holger; Schütt, Ernst Christian (2008). Chronik des deutschen Fußballs: die Spiele der Nationalmannschaften von 1908 bis heute (in German). wissenmedia Verlag. p. 210. ISBN 9783577164214. 
  2. ^ Wiederstein, Wolfgang (14 November 2009). "'Ein Spiel, das wir nicht gewinnen konnten'". Die Presse (in German). Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Mansel, Tim (28 December 2015). "The East German team that refused to die". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 28 December 2015. 

External links

  • DFB statistics of the national team (contains information on East Germany caps and goalscorers)
  • RSSSF archive of East Germany results
  • RSSSF history of East Germany national team
  • RSSSF record of East Germany international caps and goals
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