Lothar Matthäus, Wolfgang Overath, Claudio Pizarro and Otto Rehhagel were awarded the “DFL Ehrenpreis” in Berlin on Tuesday, August 20. The DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga acknowledged the quartet for their outstanding achievements by resolution of its board the evening before its general assembly.
“The ‘DFL Ehrenpreis’ recognises notable and exceptional achievements in and around German professional football,” commented DFL President Dr. Reinhard Rauball. “As personalities, Lothar Matthäus, Wolfgang Overath, Claudio Pizarro and Otto Rehhagel have contributed to the remarkable popularity of football in different ways and at different times. In this respect, they all have been and remain valuable representatives of our sport.”
Since 2007, the following personalities have received the “DFL Ehrenpreis” (formerly the “Bundesliga Ehrenpreis”): Uwe Seeler, Jupp Heynckes, Ottmar Hitzfeld, Udo Lattek, Horst Hrubesch, Karl-Heinz Körbel, Heribert Bruchhagen, Dr Fritz Pleitgen (former Director General of TV channel WDR) and, posthumously, Karl-Heinz Heimann (former editor-in-chief and publisher of “kicker” magazine).
In his laudatory speech, Jupp Heynckes said that Lothar Matthäus (58), his former protege at Borussia Mönchengladbach, boasts “a unique record as one of the best midfielders with one of the most outstanding careers in the history of German football, for which he has been and remains an excellent ambassador, as well as for the DFL.” He added that Matthäus had found his place in his current work as a TV expert “thanks to his detailed and objective commentary”.
Karl-Heinz Riedle, 1990 World Cup winner, highlighted the numerous successes of Otto Rehhagel (81) – from his first victory in the DFB-Cup with Fortuna Düsseldorf in 1980 and the Bundesliga title he won with SV Werder Bremen in 1988, right through to his sensational triumph with Greece at EURO 2004. Riedle described Otto Rehhagel’s Bundesliga victory with 1. FC Kaiserslautern in 1998 – still the only time a club has won the title immediately after being promoted – as the “cherry on the cake of his Bundesliga career”. He described Otto Rehhagel as his “most important coach” and “a type of father figure” for many young Werder players.
Hans-Joachim Watzke, CEO of Borussia Dortmund, said about Wolfgang Overath (75), the 1974 World Cup winner who spent his entire club career with 1. FC Köln: “Wolfgang Overath has been one of my greatest footballing heroes ever since the 1966 World Cup, even if he played for the wrong team unfortunately. I have to admit that, as a child, I even had a poster-series of him on my bedroom wall. For me, Wolfgang Overath is one of the outstanding footballers and key figures in German football history. I simply loved watching the way he interpreted the game.”
At the age of 40, Claudio Pizarro from SV Werder Bremen has become the first footballer still playing actively to receive the DFL Ehrenpreis. His first Bundesliga coach at Werder, Thomas Schaaf, said: “He was already an incredibly complete player when he came to us from Peru in 1999, with excellent technique and a clever idea for every situation in the game. His successful integration was down to him – and not only on the pitch. Claudio is a true team player and a charismatic and engaging presence, not least thanks to his smile and his optimism.” Pizarro is the foreign player with the most appearances in Bundesliga history (473). The most recent of his 197 goals so far came at the age of 40 years and 227 days – also a record. Thomas Schaaf concluded: “I take my hat off to him for all of these fantastic achievements, to an outstanding footballer and a remarkable person.”
(DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga)