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Kaiserslautern honors Walter, 1954 World Cup champion
Associated Press
Mar. 6, 2004 11:03 a.m.

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany (AP) FC Kaiserslautern on Saturday celebrated the 80th birthday of Ottmar Walter, one of three surviving members of West Germany's 1954 World Cup champions.

Fans hung a banner bearing his jersey No. 80 during the ceremonies at Fritz-Walter Stadion, before a match against Eintracht Frankfurt.

The club also named the stadium's north gate after the forward, whose 336 goals in 321 Bundesliga matches remains a Kaiserslautern record.

Horst Eckel and Hans Schafer are the other two surviving players from the 1954 World Cup, known in Germany as the "miracle of Bern."

West Germany's upset of Hungary in the final came as the country was reeling from its dark role in World War II. Millions of Germans poured into the streets at the end of the match and screamed "we're somebody again."

The World Cup title, and the pride it gave the Germans, has often been linked to the country's upswing in the 1950s that turned it into an economic juggernaut.

"You set a signal with the title. The '54 World Cup put Germany back on its feet and created optimism and confidence," said Kurt Beck, minister president of Rhineland-Palatinate, the state in which Kaiserslautern plays.