General discussion thread


I'm so gorgeous they want to put me under arrest!
Jan 17, 2008
A never-nude? I thought he just liked cut-offs.
There's a lot of shouts about sweeper-keeper trailblazers, but this guy from the 1920s seems to have a stronger claim than most:

Heinrich (Heiner) STUHLFAUTH (1896-1966)

Germany, Goalkeeper League champion 1920, 1921, 1924, 1925, 1927 League runner-up 1922

The first internationally acclaimed German footballer of genuine world class, Heiner Stuhlfauth was rated as one of the world's finest goalkeepers during the 1920s and was considered Germany's best ever keeper until the emergence of Sepp Maier some 40 years later. A goalkeeper of stoic calmness with a good eye and excellent positional play, at the same time bold and daring and a complete authority inside the box. Initially not a goalkeeper but an outfield player, the tall Stuhlfauth had very good skill on the ball which enabled him to fully function as a third back during the times of the pyramid. His technique was better than that of the two backs in front of him and probably on par with that of most forwards in his team. His most notable feature was that he regularly, whenever he saw it fit, stormed out of his goal to clear dangerous situations in a sweeper-like manner. Naturally this made him one of the most revered and loved players during the 1920s.

The first expansive review of his abilities as a goalkeeper was issued by the Viennese press after his second cap for Germany in Vienna against Austria in 1920: "Stuhlfauth is a goalkeeping phenomenon, he has lifted the art of goalkeeping to a level that is close to perfection. He has everything that is demanded of a goalkeeper: tallness, quick reflexes, save catching and cold-bloodedness. The way Stuhlfauth catches the ball is simply exemplary. …. When he has to fist the ball he does it with the same power as if he used his foot. The German is nerveless in an uncanny way, unknowable to common people. … almost the whole game he was out of his goal playing along with the other players. The Germans thus had a third back and 11th outfield player and the one with the strongest kick. None of the backs was as composed on the ground as Stuhlfauth, none managed such giant kicks as Stuhlfauth, yet his roaming around the pitch never looked out of place, his popping up here and there was always sense-making and on time so that it looked natural the longer the game went on. Stuhlfauth actively instigated the events instead of reacting to them. He proved that it is not necessary or beneficial for a goalkeeper to be tied to the goalline. In this respect many of the attending goalkeepers from Vienna will have benefitted from this. And those that didn't see it, please attend the next time Stuhlfauth is in town because much is to be learned from this man."

So Stuhlfauth was a truly spectacular goalkeeper in this regard, yet he was strongly opposed to showboating when he was in his goal. Because of his great positioning, Stuhlfauth mostly was not in need to show off great diving saves. As his teammate Carl Riegel said: "He never switched off, he was always anticipating the next move." Stuhlfauth himself always pointed out his motto that "a good goalkeeper does not dive. When I had to dive or throw myself like a panther to parry a ball, I always asked myself what had gone wrong?" Instead, Stuhlfauth was intent on using his feet as often as his hands. Regarding his endeavours of leaving his penalty box pretty often, it was helpful that Stuhlfauth was a very fast runner and successfully competed in 100-metres-races in his adolescence. He was always trying to kill off dangerous moves as soon as he spotted them. For this purpose, Stuhlfauth did not hesitate to leave his box to storm forward as far as needed to block off a ball with his feet.

Stuhlfauth himself described this method as follows: "Leaving the goal at the perfect time is something you cannot learn. Sometimes it depends on a fraction of a second to reach the ball faster than the forward. From the stands at first it often looks as if it was a mistake leaving the goal. But even when the ball is only 2-3 metres ahead of the forward and the goalkeeper is 15 metres away from the ball, if the goalkeeper estimates the distance correctly, he will reach the ball before the forward, because the ball is moving towards him already while the forward has to follow the ball. When I left my goal I guess that I have judged the situation correctly in 95 times out of 100. When my backs noticed that I was leaving the goal, immediately one of them ran into the goal for cover. Oftentimes I sprinted 20 or 30 metres towards the ball and intercepted the move by kicking the ball away. I advise goalkeepers to play as forwards in their club's second-string side because a goalkeeper can only get better if he gets acquainted with an outfield role. Before I became a goalkeeper, I was playing as inside left myself for many years in my youth."

Sportswriter Dr. Friedebert Becker reported that he often discussed fundamental matters of goalkeeping with Stuhlfauth. The questions they debated were "could a goalkeeper not do much more for his team? Does the goalkeeper actually properly exploit the special rights he is granted by the rules? Isn't the prejudice too strong that a goalkeeper has to stay on the line or inside his box and only in very special moments of danger shall leave his box?" In 1966, after Stuhlfauth's death, Dr. Becker wrote that Stuhlfauth was 50 years ahead of his time.

To this day, his name is synonymous (together with the name of Hans Kalb) with the great epoch of 1. FC Nürnberg during the 1920s. He kept the Nürnberg goal in five German championship finals and managed not to concede a single goal in these five games (not counted is the 1922 final against Hamburg which did not see a winner). His international career was not as outstanding as his club career as his style of play demanded a very fine tuning with his teammates which often was not possible in the national team as the two backs were usually not Nürnberg players. Still, Stuhlfauth was considered a goalkeeper non-pareil within Germany and internationally he was rated as the best goalkeeper right behind the Spaniard Ricardo Zamora. His best game for Germany came in a 1929 friendly in Torino against Italy which Germany won 2-1 (this was the first time that Germany played the WM system). He was dubbed "sorcerer" by the Italian press due to his many incredible saves and one Italian headline read: "God himself stood in the German goal" while another paper wrote "the Devil guarded the German goal". Stuhlfauth retired in 1933 after 606 appearances for Nürnberg. In a 'Kicker' poll done in 1956 he was still rated as Germany's greatest ever goalkeeper.
Meant to post this ages ago but I found it interesting how specific the contemporary accounts were compared to anything I've seen re Grosics, Yashin and the like, who came along 30 odd years later, and at least had the potential for corroborating footage that doesn't seem to exist. If it's in any way accurate, it's a bit mad that this guy was trailblazing back then, but it led down a historical cul-de-sac until so recently, with Cruyff as the lone voice shouting into the wilderness in the late 80s/early 90s. Even after the introduction of the back pass rule it took a long time for the possibilities of ball-playing keepers to really be explored.


Full Member
Jan 29, 2017
Definitely interesting, though that line about having techique on par with most forwards in his team comes off as an unintentionally damning indictment of 1920s German football.


Has No Mates
Jun 29, 2010
I was looking at Marcelo Gallardo and was then reminded of Marcelo Delgado. I remember him being the standout player whenever I watched Boca in the early 2000s on Channel 5. I mostly watched the Brazilian and Argentinian leagues to scout the new up and coming players, for instance the over-hyped Andres D'Allesandro.

So I decided to watch a few vids of Delgado. He wasn't as good as I had remembered him but still an entertaining watch.