FAT HOG Entry NO. 1 - Matthias Sindelar
The Mozart Of Football
For the inaugural inductee into FAT HOG - Football And The Hall Of Glory - I wanted to choose someone who was not just one of the greatest players from the hallowed halls of football history - but someone who represented something deeper than the game itself. Matthias Sindelar ultimately gave his life to the game & was the victim of fascism not once, but twice.
The first time was in 1934 at the World Cup hosted by an Italy under the iron grip of Mussolini. With Sindelar as Captain, the Austrian Wunderteam reached the semi-finals & lost to a goal after their keeper was pushed over the line. The referee, Ivan Eklind, had "dinner" with Mussolini the night before the game. Italy won that tournament - a tournament in which "Il Duce" hand-picked the referees for every single match.
4 years later, with Austria annexed under Nazi rule, Sindelar lead his team one last time before they were absorbed into a unified German/Austrian team. Austria won the game 2-0 - Sindelar scored - and he went over to celebrate in front of the Nazi dignitaries.
He refused to play for the unified team - citing "old-age" or injury.
He was found dead 8 months later alongside his girlfriend, in his apartment in Vienna. The SS & Gestapo were having him followed constantly. His death was recorded as "an accident" which meant, at the very least, he would receive a state funeral.
Sindelar is a martyr of the game.
We will never know if he would have won the World Cup under better conditions - or if he was killed by the state. What we do know is that he was so brilliantly talented that he was called "The Mozart Of Football."