Overath’s Woes With The Billy Goats
One of the best footballers that Germany has ever produced, Wolfgang Overath is currently grabbing the headlines as president of his beloved Cologne, a club that the 63-year-old wants to lead back to the German top flight in the 2007-08 season.
It is fair to say that Wolfgang Overath is not a huge fan of the pre-season, a football-free period without any goals or points to play for. No chance of making amends for a poor result by winning the next match. All he has to look forward to are meetings with fans and crisis talks with the club board. All well and good, but not exactly what a man like Overath craves.
Overath is actually already yearning to throw himself back into the battle for points, goals and promotion. “Battle” is the correct word because Overaths entire life seems to have been one long battle, whether as the youngest of eight children whose older brothers never returned home from war, as the smallest player on a pitch with bigger boys, or as the teenage star who scored Cologne’s first ever Bundesliga goal. And so on and so forth.
His battles are showing no signs of letting up, this time as the president of his beloved club. His current battle is to win promotion to the German top flight, which in a way is also a battle to save his reputation. Overath has always been known as a one-club man, having only ever played professionally for the “Billy Goats”, but that has not shielded him from criticism. Those who once chanted his name are now pulling his decisions to pieces. Those who once bowed at his feet now want to pull the rug from underneath him.
Back in the days when political correctness was unheard of, Overath was known as “the gypsy”. His biography, published in 1970, was called “Yes, my temper”. These days, his temper is something reserved for journalists who pen articles that he does not agree with. When that happens, Overath’s voice becomes strained as he curses and complains before deciding whether to forgive and forget.
These days Overath can usually be found in the stands, sitting rigid and expressionless as he watches the all-too-often substandard performances of those that have followed him in a Cologne shirt. Yet those who know him are all too aware that he is actually about to explode.