H ans-Hubert "Berti" Vogts was born on December 30 1946 in Bottgen, Germany. Vogts joined the boys' football team of local sports club VfR Büttgen in 1954 at the age of seven. Keen to have a back up career in case he did not make it in football, Vogts undertook an apprenticeship, and worked for half a year as a journeyman because he wanted to become a technical draftsman - making detailed technical drawings or plans for machinery, buildings and electronics. He need not have bothered as when Vogts was 18 years old, he was snapped up by the then Bundesliga promoted side Borussia Mönchengladbach, in the summer of 1965, securing his future as a professional footballer.
While Gladbach was not among the sixteen teams invited for the first Bundesliga season in 1963, the top tier of German football could not evade them for long. Indeed, the club earned their promotion only three years later, at the same time as Bayern Munich. Most of the credit for the club's meteoric rise to excellence went to Hennes Weisweiler, a coach who brought a breath of fresh air to the club with his brand of attacking football. He saw in Vogts, a footballer who would provide the balance to his free-flowing attacking side, admiring Vogts' keen defensive instinct but sensing that the German was also capable of being complementary to Die Fohlen's beautiful game.
In signing for Borussia Monchengladbach, Vogts had chosen wisely in starting his career at a club whose rise to success had been a long time coming. The club was founded as FC Borussia in 1900; the name was borrowed from the Latin spelling of the word Prussia, the region in which the club was situated in. During its first six decades of existence, Gladbach had enjoyed a moderate amount of success in the local competitions and was mostly known for its fierce rivalry with FC Köln. As fate would have it, Gladbach ended up defeating Köln on the way to its first trophy, the 1960 DFB-Pokal. This was to prove to be the first trophy of many as Vogts would play an integral role in them becoming one of the biggest clubs in German history and Bayern Munich's original adversaries.
Both Bayern and Gladbach had won promotion to the Bundesliga in 1965, Bayern topping the southern regional league and Gladbach winning in the west. They both had young teams and this, to some extent, was the root of their rivalry. It was also how Gladbach acquired a new nickname – the youthfulness of their squad led them to be tagged, Die Fohlen – the foals. They earned the nickname "foals" due to their low average age as well as their carefree and successful play. Reporter Wilhelm August Hurtmanns coined the nickname in his articles in the Rheinische Post. He was taken with the style of Borussia and wrote that they would play like young foals.
It didn't take Vogts long to make an impression at Gladbach, with him being selected in the kicker Bundesliga Team of the Season in his debut campaign of 1965–66. His rapid rise to prominence helped him catch the eye of the National Team selectors, initially playing nine international boys' games for West Germany and then making three appearances for the under-23s team. However whilst Vogts' individual form was brilliant, Gladbach as a whole found the step up from the regional leagues tough.
The economic situation of the club did not allow to finance a team of stars. Weisweiler corresponded to the needs of the association with his attitude to promote the education and development of young talents.He promoted individualism and gave them considerable freedom on the field. This resulted in a carefree and offensive style of playing, the hallmark of Fohlenelf. These freedoms cost the still immature team in the first Bundesliga season with a number of sometimes high defeats. Gladbach eventually finished the first season in the Bundesliga on the 13th place in the table.
1966/1967 and 1967/1968 Seasons
In the following season 1966/67 showed the scoring power of the Mönchengladbacher team, which scored 70 goals. The striker Herbert Laumen scored 18, Bernd Rupp 16 and Jupp Heynckes scored 14 goals. Due to the good goal difference, the team was able to complete the season on the eighth place in the table. With an 11-0 home win over FC Schalke 04 on Matchday 18, the team celebrated the first highest ever victory in Bundesliga history.
The successes had the side effect that the salaries of the players jumped up and thus good players were not easy to hold onto. Jupp Heynckes moved for the former record transfer fee of 275,000 DM to Hannover 96, Bernd Rupp moved to SV Werder Bremen, and Eintracht Braunschweig signed Gerhard Elfert. Nevertheless Vogts once again finished in the team of the season as the Foals further enhanced their scoring powers inspite of their personnel losses and finished third in the table.
The German National Team were one of the favourites to win Euro 1968, with a plethora of young talent coming through to complement the side which reached the World Cup Final of 1996. A young Vogts who was now part of the national team set up for the qualifying campaign would have been forgiven if he would have expected to experience his first ever international tournament. Alas it wasn't to be and an exceptionally strong Yugoslavia team led by Dragan Dzajic ended up going through as group winners instead.
The disappointment with the national side, led to a slight dip in Vogts performance during the 1968-69 season, with Gladbach once again finishing third. Hennes Weisweiler in the 1969/70 season decided to deviate from the "foal" concept and give Vogts the support he needed defensively. For the first time experienced defensive players like Luggi Müller and Klaus-Dieter Sieloff. were acquired. With a first Bundesliga victory over Bayern and a 5-1 win over Alemannia Aachen Borussia took over on 31 October 1969 for the first time the league leadership of the Bundesliga where they would remain till the end ensuring Vogts was back in the Bundesliga team of the season.
After the disappointment of failing to qualify for Euro 1968, the 1970 World Cup was Berti Vogts' first international tournament. He was now the de facto starter at right-back in what was arguably the strongest German team of all time on paper, containing the likes of Maier, Schulz, Schnellinger, Overath, Beckenbauer, Muller and Seeler. Vogts started the tournament well, contributing to a leaky but ultimately stable backline which enabled Germany to qualify into the knockouts undefeated in what was a very high-scoring group and against talented sides such as Peru.
Berti struggled during the latter stages. He was to blame for the first two goals the Germans conceded to England in the quarter finals. The first involved him losing track of Alan Mullery who was first to respond from a near post cross and the second involved him losing Martin Peters who bullied him on the far post... both goals coming from crosses from Keith Newton. The inexperienced Vogts was targeted as the weak spot of the German defence. Fortunately the German's rallied and got themselves back in the game before sealing it in extra time with a winner by Gerd Muller.
He was once again the culprit for the first goal against the Italians in the semi final with an unfortunate block landing at the feet of Boninsegna, The remainder of the game was a see-sawing classic of epic proportions, but with the German's losing 4-3 in extra time, the sense was that Germans had untypically allowed the situation to get the better of them.
Vogts didn't let the disappointment of the World Cup to get to him and his return to form on the domestic scene was vital as Borussia were the first side to defend their championship title in the history of the Bundesliga with a victory at Eintracht Frankfurt. The 1970/1971 championship was decided only on the last match day after a relentless head-to-head race with Bayern Munich.
The next challenge for Vogts and Gladbach was to make their mark in Europe whilst trying to maintain their domestic dominance and keep a hungry Bayern at bay. On 20 October 1971 in the European Cup, the champions took part in the historic rifle throwing game against Le Grande Inter (Milan). Borussia won the match at Bökelbergstadion 7-1 in a stunning performance (Matt Busby claiming it was the finest display of attacking football he had ever seen) but UEFA cancelled the game, as the Italian striker Roberto Boninsegna was hit by an empty rifle and received medical treatment.
After a 4-2 away defeat in Milan and a goalless draw in the replay at the Berlin Olympic Stadium, Borussia were eliminated from the Cup of the national champions. This had a knock on effect on the remainder of their season as they finished third in the league with Bayern winning their first of what would be three consecutive League titles. This was to also have a detrimental effect on Vogts' international career as he was not picked as Germany's first choice right back in the 1972 European Championships, having to make do with a spot on the bench.
Things were going to get a lot worse for Vogts as Gladbach lost Netzer at the back end of the 1972/73 to Real Madrid, after finishing 5th in the Bundesliga and losing the Uefa Cup final to Liverpool. Vogts played out of position at left back in a makeshift defence for the first leg, where they were destroyed by Liverpools aerial bombardment and facing a 3-0 deficit. In the second leg, Vogts moved to centre back as Gladbach defeated Liverpool 2-0, but it was to no avail as the damage had been done in the first leg.
The departure of Netzer actually proved to be liberating for Gladbach as the team began to realise it could be just as successful if not more so by becoming more of a collective, rather than relying on their virtuoso rockstar to produce the goods. Vogts became the face of the team and took over the Captaincy, instilling a more ruthless and disciplined approach on the pitch as he set up base in the centre of the back line, converting into a full time centre back.
Whilst the "foals" didn't win anything in the 1973/74 season, they ran the relentless Bayern close all season and missed out on the title by a single point. They had proven to the league they were not overrans and that they were ready to compete at the highest level post Netzer. Vogts had finally matured into a truly elite defender after having been given the captaincy. By playing at centre back, he was forced to upgrade his aerial game and to organise the defenders around him, not just focus on man-marking threats out wide. Mentally it also gave him a lot of confidence to become the main man of the side, even if he was a defender and it made him extra determined to make his mark on the national side and make up for the disappointments of 1970 and his own personal disappointment in Euro 1972.
First Group Stage
Vogts started the tournament in the shadow of the irrepressible Paul Breitner who in addition to roaming across the pitch on either flank, smashed a scorcher of epic proportions against Chile in West Germany's opening match from 35 yards. It was the only way the Germans looked likely of breaking the deadlock as Elias Figueroa marshalled the Chilean defence to keep the incisive Muller at bay. After successfully navigating a bruising opening encounter, came national humiliation which was to expose the fractious state of the German squad (which had been rumoured to have had a lot of in-fighting). They lost to East Germany in the only competitive fixture ever played between the two German states
Second Group Stage
After stumbling through the first group stage in second place, the side eventually got going in the semi-final group with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Yugoslavia and a a four-goal second-half blast against Sweden before once again grinding out a gritty one-goal win over Poland. The Germans, despite the inauspicious start were in the final against Media darlings Holland but they had had to show resilience and defensive nous, a far cry from the frequent displays of electrifying football being played by the Bavarians and the Foals in the Bundesliga.
Going into the final, the Oranje were heavy favourites as Ajax (the heart and soul of the Dutch team), had beaten Bayern (the heart and soul of the German team) several times in the previous years, 5-0 in a friendly, played in Munich, and 4-0, 1-2 in the European Cup in 1973. Vogts who had played a rather understated but integral role in the campaign was now thrust on to centre stage and given the role of the arch-villain, to destroy Johan Cruyff.
Cruyff had run Bayern Munich ragged, so the thought process was to man-mark him with the captain of the Foals, the iron-willed and indefatigable Vogts, someone he had never faced before. Vogts had previously struggled at international level, and just about managed to keep Dzajic quiet earlier in the tournament, so it was somewhat of a leap of faith from the Germans to place their trust in him to man mark the greatest attacker in the world at that time - a phenom who would force Vogts into all areas of the pitch, not just defending a particular flank...
Within a few minutes Cruyff had demonstrated why the Germans were right to fear him by leaving a bewildered Vogts for dead and embarking upon a jaw-dropping mazy dribble across half the pitch, penetrating the Deutsche back line and earning the Dutch a penalty, which Neeskens duly converted. After Vogts' past history of disappointing on the big stage, one could have forgiven him if he had gone into his shell for the rest of the encounter but the German was a different beast to the wet-eared spaniel of yesteryear and he decided to roll up his sleeves and go again, hanging on to the scintillating Cruyff for dear life, following his every twist and turn - eager to not let the Dutchman get the better of him for the rest of the bout.
Time and time again it seemed Cruyff had worked himself some space to wreak havoc only for the unrelenting Terrier to stick an outstretched leg and block yet another pass or a shot. By the second half, Vogts was able to anticipate the Dutchman's movements and began to proactively intercept the ball before it even reached Cruyff and then confidently bringing it out of defence. By this stage Germany had turned the tide, winning 2-1 and looking the more likely team to score.
By subduing Cruyff, Vogts was key to keeping the Dutch out of the game and not letting them use the 'hero' card of Cruyff and get themselves back on the score sheet. The game ended that way and the Germans won their second World Cup. Vogts cemented himself in the annals of the game for his majestic man-marking job but what was overlooked was the fact that the performance was many years in the making. He had finally blossomed on the biggest stage of all.
Borussia laid in the 1974/75 season the foundation for a previously unheard of in the Bundesliga success series. Led by the world cup winning Vogts and spearheaded by the blossoming Simonsen and hitman Heynckes who finished as the league's outright top goalscorer with 27 goals, on Matchday 17, the "Foals" topped the league table and did not relinquish the league lead until winning the championship on 14 June 1975.
The joy over the title was clouded by the departure of coach Hennes Weisweiler, who left the club after eleven years in the direction of FC Barcelona but he had laid behind the foundations for sustainable success .Gladbach had also earned themselves the right of redemption on the European stage by getting to the two-legged UEFA Cup final The first leg of the UEFA Cup in Düsseldorf between Borussia and Twente Enschede ended goalless. The second leg on 21 May 1975 was won with the highest away win seen in a UEFA Cup final (5:1).
Udo Lattek , who came from the rival Bayern Munich, although he had already signed with Rot-Weiss Essen, took over the club in the 1975/76 season. In contrast to replace Weisweiler, Lattek represented a rather safety-first philosophy which suited Berti Vogts. The team went top of the table early on in the season (the twelfth round) remained leading the campaign until the end of the season. In the European Champions Cup, Borussia Mönchengladbach once again came valiantly short. They progressed to the quarter finals and played against Real Madrid, where now Günter Netzer and Paul Breitner were under contract.
After a riveting 2: 2 draw at home, in the second leg , which ended 1-1, the referee Leonardus van der Kroft controversially did not recognize two Mönchengladbach goals. The draw was enough for the Madrilenians to progress on away goals. Vogts in particular had a poor pair of games and in the second leg, playing as a right back - constantly gave the ball away. At this stage of his career, he suited being played centrally especially on the domestic scene (Gladbach's defence wasn't as robust as Germany's) and it was a mistake on Lattek's part to push Vogts out wide when he increasingly lacked a two-way game.
At Euro 1976, Vogts once again featured at right back in a backline which still featured the Beckenbauer and Schwarzenbeck centre-back pairing but no longer featured Breitner. They had to come back from a half time two-goal deficit against Yugoslavia to win the tie in extra time. Vogts had to face off against Dzajic once again, a rematch of their encounter in the 1974 World Cup. Vogts was generally excellent, as he stuck like glue to the great wing wizard but he was caught out for the first goal, not expecting his goalkeeper to drop the cross and failing to react quicker than Dzajic who got there first and put it away.
Just like in the World Cup Final, Vogts put the arguable error to the back of his mind and pursued Dzajic to the very end of an epic encounter and ended up winning the war. In the final, the Germans were once again slow starters and having to come back again from a 2-0 deficit. This time however they lost on penalties, the match becoming infamous for the legendary Panenka penalty.
In the 1976/1977 season Lattek went with an almost unchanged team at the start. As Borussia needed one point to defend the title on the final day. The match took place away against Bayern Munich, then sixth in the table, and ended 2:2 by an own goal in the 90th minute by Hans-Jürgen Wittkamp. Borussia made the title hat-trick perfect and won on 21 May 1977 for the third time in a row and for the fifth time overall the German championship title. The Dane Allan Simonsen received after this season the award as Europe's Footballer of the Year with the Ballon d'Or.
Away from the domestic scene Borussia gained entry to the European Cup as a result of winning the 1975–76 Fußball-Bundesliga. After beating Austria Vienna and Torino comfortably, Monchengladbach found themselves in the quarter-finals where they faced Belgian champions Club Brugge. The first leg at the Bökelbergstadion saw Borussia concede two goals in the first half. However, they scored two goals in the second half courtesy of Christian Kulik and Allan Simonsen to secure a 2–2 draw. Borussia knew that they had to score in the second leg at the Jan Breydel Stadium to have any chance of progressing to the semi-finals. The first half was goalless, and with six minutes of the second half remaining Wilfried Hannes scored the goal Borussia needed.
Their semi final opposition were Soviet champions Dynamo Kyiv. The first leg at the Central Stadium was won 1–0 by Dynamo. Borussia again needed to score to stay in the competition. Midway through the second half, Rainer Bonhof scored to make the tie 1–1 on aggregate. With eight minutes remaining and the tie heading for extra time, Hans-Jürgen Wittkamp scored to give Borussia a two-goal lead. The score remained the same and Borussia progressed to their first European Cup final with a 2–1 aggregate victor.
In the final, Borussia faced Liverpool, the same team they had lost to in the 1973 UEFA Cup final. Vogts had a difficult game out at right back as he struggled to keep tabs on a very dynamic Kevin Keegan and simultaneously organise the calamitous Gladbach defence which seemed at sea all game with gaping holes through the middle. He ended up giving away a controversial penalty but by that stage the game had already been lost.
Gladbach went into the 1977/1978 season looking to win their the fourth championship title in a row The 1977–78 season, which ended earlier than usual due to the upcoming World Cup in Argentina, ended with 1. FC Köln winning the title, but the decision had been closer than anybody would have imagined. The team from Cologne was level on points with Borussia Mönchengladbach before the final round of matches of the season, but had a ten-goal lead in goal difference over their rivals. Nevertheless, Mönchengladbach managed to close the gap with a 12–0 victory in their last match against Borussia Dortmund. However, the Foals missed out on the title by three goals because Köln won 5–0 against FC St. Pauli at the same time.
In Europe, Gladbach once again managed to get to the latter stages of the European Cup but once again they fell to nemesis Liverpool. In the first leg they managed to win 2-1, with Vogts being caught out in the air and allowing Liverpool to score what was a potentially crucial away goal. In the second leg at Anfield, Liverpool simply blew Gladbach away and finished Vogts' dreams of winning a European Cup once and for all.
Going into the 1978 World Cup, the Germans had a depleted squad, losing Beckenbauer to early retirement and Breitner refusing to play. Berti Vogts was now captain of the national side and aged 32, it looked likely to be his final hurrah on the international scene. During the match between West Germany and Austria on 21 June 1978, in the second round of the 1978 FIFA World Cup, Vogts infamously scored an own goal, allowing Austria to beat West Germany for the first time in 47 years, and preventing West Germany from moving on to the next round. In Austria, this match is fondly known as the Miracle of Córdoba.
In the following season 1978/79 Udo Lattek managed Borussia for the last time. Many regulars like the later vice-president Rainer Bonhofleft the club or announced their career end, such as Jupp Heynckes. Club captain Vogts also announced it was to be his final campaign. At the age of 33, the tireless Vogts was finally beginning to feel his age. For the first time in his career, he was not a first team regular due to injury and he only made 6 league appearances during the 1978/79 season. In the Bundesliga, the weekly grind of the domestic scene was not kind on a squad which was clearly on the wane in a physical sense.
By Matchday 30, the team was in 15th place, eventually finishing tenth and it was the first season in a long time which ended the club with a negative goal balance. In Europe, there was to be a fairy tale ending to what was a miserable domestic campaign for Vogts. He played a key role in Europe and captained the side for the Uefa Cup campaign where they went all the way. The first leg in the UEFA Cup final against Red Star Belgrade ended in a draw. In the second leg on 23 May 1979 Borussia won 1-0 at home to win the UEFA Cup for the second time and Vogts' final trophy as a footballer.
After his playing career ended, Vogts became coach of the West Germany under 21 national team and in 1986, he became an assistant manager of the senior national side. In 1990, he was promoted to manager of Germany, succeeding Franz Beckenbauer. After the 1990 FIFA World Cup Final, Beckenbauer famously said that the reunified Germany will "probably be unbeatable for years", a statement which turned out to be a burden for Vogts during the upcoming years.
Although Vogts led the German national team to a Euro 1992 runner up place and a Euro 1996 win, two World Cup quarter final defeats in 1994 and 1998 led to him stepping down as manager in September 1998. In November 2000, he was appointed manager of Bayer Leverkusen but despite earning Bayer Leverkusen Champions League qualification, he was sacked. He then followed this role with a number of disappointing spells at Kuwait, Scotland, Nigeria and Azerbaijan.
Vogts built himself a reputation as a considerable man-marker who was incredibly tough to shake off and defensively without much weaknesses. To some degree that description of Vogt was fairly accurate but what becomes apparent in a more in-depth look at his career is that Vogts was not in the same category of Maldini or Djalma Santos when it came to immaculate defending.
He was more of a reactive rather than proactive defender, his defensive IQ not quite at the aforementioned duo's level and consequently he was more prone to errors... he was also vulnerable in the air, and lacked the physical presence to truly intimidate the opposition from the first minute to the last. This is evidenced by the fact that the two best opponents he faced, Dzajic and Cruyff... managed to get away from him and produce game-changing moments in what are seen as marquee performances for the German.
However whilst he did make errors in those battles v Cruyff and Dzajic, it was the manner in which he rolled his sleeves up, kept going, eventually subduing them both with relentless pressure, and winning the respective encounters overall which mark him out as such a gritty, formidable foe. He didn't let embarrassment or mistakes get to him. If anything, they heightened his resolve and made him more determined to get his side the result. For that reason, he deserves recognition as one of the games finest lateral defenders.
On a separate note, Vogts wasn't just a gritty man-marking right back who was the anthesis of the free spirited Breitner- as many Borussia Monchengladbach fans would testify...Vogts possessed his own brand of gravity-defying 'total football' - proving to be very comfortable in possession to the extent that he too was capable of playing in midfield, as a defensive midfielder, as well as an orthodox centreback/libero. Furthermore he became a leader who could organise a backline, and roam across the backline, plugging gaps and reinforcing whatever area on the pitch he felt was under most threat.
There were several occasions where he could be found at left back, centre back and defensive midfield all in the same game and he did so with aplomb. What allowed him to do this was a solid technical grounding in possession. Whilst he could be erratic on the ball with the odd hoof under pressure, he nevertheless blessed with tremendous agility in addition to a lovely ability to strike passes with the outside of the foot and consequently capable of elevating his possession game to the extent he could be relied upon in an anchoring role in midfield.
In short, Berti Vogts wasn't the best defensive full back the game has ever seen, he lacked the immaculate positioning and omniscience of a truly elite all-time defender but if you wanted a defender who could be relied upon to get the job done in the end, however ugly the journey was in getting there - the German was your man. Furthermore he could play a bit, and he was comfortable across the back line, so he had exceptional versatility - a truly selfless individual and a fantastic team player.
Sex before the game? No problem. But I won't allow it at half-time
Progressing to where you can play a big role in football is nothing you can achieve in just two years. It will at least take five, six, well more likely seven years. A once-in-a-life-time success does not help you, constant quality is what you have to go for.
You need experience around you when you are a young player. You need to know how to run a team, to lead a team and to play as a team which means, your team has leaders but you still function as a team.