It’s become an urban footballing legend that Germany’s away shirt is green in homage to Ireland being their first opponents after the end of World War II. Except it’s not true. Well, at least the part about the second kit. Ireland did indeed play host to Germany’s first game overseas, however, following the conflict that ravaged Europe. And seven months later we travelled to Cologne for a friendly, 61 years before this Friday’s meeting in the same city.
Ireland had also provided the opposition in one of Germany’s last games before the war when the sides clashed in Bremen in 1939. When a now divided West Germany returned to international competition in the wake of the conflict, Dalymount Park was the venue for a first overseas trip for the game on October 17, 1951.
Ireland raced into a 2-0 lead but in the second half, the Germans, captained by Fritz Walters, hit back and drew level in the 75th minute only for Dessie Glynn to come up with a winner for the Irish.
The following May, Ireland returned the favour by travelling to Cologne. A crowd of 75,000 packed into the Mungersdorferstadion to see the home side earn a 3-0 friendly victory with goals from Josef Posipal, Ottmar Walter, and Bernhard Termath.
Three years later the countries would meet again in Hamburg when Germany won 2-1 against the side now playing under the name the Republic of Ireland following FIFA’s intervention, with the Irish goal coming from the late Celtic great Sean Fallon.
Ireland gained revenge in November 1956, winning 3-0 in a Dublin friendly.
Remarkably, Ireland have recorded quite a few successes against the Germans over the years, especially at home. Of the 17 meetings to date, the Irish have won five and drawn four. Even during the shambolic reign of Steve Staunton, we still gave them two tough encounters when last paired in a qualifying group.
Only a deflected goal gave Germany victory in Stuttgart, and while we were out of the Euro 2008 running by the time of the Croke Park return leg, Ireland restored some semblance of pride with a 0-0 draw.
Our first meeting on home soil was a friendly encounter in 1936. Ireland, under the banner of the Football Association of the Irish Free State, defeated Germany 5-2 at Dalymount Park, a game that was preceded by Nazi salutes.
In 1960, the Boys in Green recorded an away win with a 1-0 success in front of 51,000 in Dusseldorf. The German team included the late Herman Haller who passed away last year. Haller scored the first goal in the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley.
In more recent times there was the pre-USA ’94 friendly away triumph under Big Jack in Hanover when the Three Amigos, Phil Babb, Jason McAteer, and goalscorer, Gary Kelly, announced their presence on the Irish stage.
Germany’s 6-1 win in Dublin last October represents Ireland’s heaviest ever competitive home defeat.
Of course, the game that sticks out in most minds is the World Cup 2002 meeting in Ibaraki. Robbie Keane’s late equaliser even had John Motson doing cartwheels.