Featured Matches
Previous
Valencia
Malaga
8:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Augsburg
Borussia Dortmund
0
2
LIVE HT
Game Details
Marseille
Nice
2
0
LIVE HT
Game Details
Sporting Kansas City
Houston Dynamo
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Getafe
Almeria
1
0
LIVE 67'
Game Details
Getafe
Almeria
1
0
LIVE 67'
Game Details
Valencia
Malaga
8:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Augsburg
Borussia Dortmund
0
2
LIVE HT
Game Details
Marseille
Nice
2
0
LIVE HT
Game Details
Perugia
Bologna
0
0
LIVE HT
Game Details
FC Union Berlin
Nurnberg
0
4
FT
Game Details
FSV Frankfurt
RB Leipzig
0
0
FT
Game Details
VfR Aalen
Kaiserslautern
2
2
FT
Game Details
AJ Auxerre
Valenciennes
1
2
LIVE 52'
Game Details
Ajaccio GFCO
Troyes
0
3
LIVE 68'
Game Details
Chateauroux
Orléans
0
0
LIVE 45'
Game Details
Le Havre AC
Créteil
1
1
LIVE 45'
Game Details
Nimes
Arles
1
2
LIVE 60'
Game Details
Niort
Clermont Foot
0
0
LIVE 67'
Game Details
Sochaux
Dijon FCO
0
0
LIVE 70'
Game Details
Stade Laval
AC Ajaccio
0
0
LIVE 52'
Game Details
Go Ahead Eagles
Willem II Tilburg
1
0
LIVE 69'
Game Details
Achilles '29
Fortuna Sittard
0
2
LIVE 59'
Game Details
FC Den Bosch
Jong Ajax
2
0
LIVE 64'
Game Details
Helmond Sport
NEC Nijmegen
1
4
LIVE 54'
Game Details
Jong PSV
FC Eindhoven
1
1
LIVE 45'
Game Details
RKC Waalwijk
Jong FC Twente
0
2
LIVE 45'
Game Details
SC Stormvogels Telstar
Almere City
2
0
LIVE 51'
Game Details
Sparta Rotterdam
FC Volendam
0
4
LIVE 65'
Game Details
VVV Venlo
FC Emmen VV
1
2
LIVE 54'
Game Details
Academica de Coimbra
Vitoria Setubal
1
1
LIVE 23'
Game Details
Ural Sverdlovsk Oblast
Terek Grozny
0
1
FT
Game Details
Balikesirspor
Akhisar Belediye
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Caykur Rizespor
Genclerbirligi
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
KAA Gent
KV Kortrijk
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Helsingborg
Halmstad
1
4
FT
Game Details
Orebro SK
Brommapojkarna
3
1
FT
Game Details
Athlone Town FC
Cork
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Bray
UCD
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Derry City
St Patricks
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Dundalk
Bohemians
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Limerick FC
Drogheda Utd
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Shamrock
Sligo
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Glenavon
Ballymena
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Coleraine
Portadown
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Sporting Kansas City
Houston Dynamo
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Queretaro
Monterrey
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Tijuana
U. de G.
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Aberystwyth
Bangor City
2
0
LIVE 37'
Game Details
Carmarthen
Port Talbot
1
0
LIVE HT
Game Details
Newi Cefn Druids
Connah's Quay
1
1
LIVE HT
Game Details
Airbus UK
Newtown
1
0
LIVE 37'
Game Details
T.N.S.
Rhyl
2
1
LIVE 19'
Game Details
Unión de Santa Fe
Crucero del Norte
0
0
LIVE 0'
Game Details
Huracán
Patronato
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Instituto de Córdoba
Ferro Carril Oeste
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Independiente Rivadavia
Atlético Tucumán
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Temperley
Sp. Belgrano
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Gimnasia y Esgrima de Jujuy
San Martín de San Juan
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Atlante
At. San Luis
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Coras Tepic
Lobos BUAP
1:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Joinville
Oeste
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Sampaio Correa-MA
América Mineiro
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Santa Cruz FC
Goianiense
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Arica
Palestino
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
12 de Octubre
Nacional
Postp
Game Details
Bidvest Wits
Moroka Swallows
3
0
LIVE 63'
Game Details
Chippa United
Ajax Cape Town
0
0
LIVE 55'
Game Details
Next
Feb 23, 2013

A Pröpper impact

On account of the Müller/Messi chase and then the Messi/Ronaldo one-upmanship, there has been a lot of talk about goalscoring heroics this season, and I, too, haven't been immune to it (see "Looking for Goals", November 17, 2012).

Which makes it even more surprising how little people, including myself, knew about the way the record in the German professional game was set. This realisation was triggered by a simple remark my esteemed colleague Paul Simpson made while we were working on a book that will be published in October or thereabouts.

"When Günter Pröpper set his goalscoring record," Paul said, "what was his longest scoring streak?" I was stumped. Not only didn't I have the slightest idea, I didn't even know where to look this up without having to go to great lengths.

I knew that Pröpper had scored 52 goals in a 34-game season in 1971-72, but I doubted whether in-depth data was readily available online, for the same reason many of you have surely spent the last few seconds shaking your head and mumbling "Who in heaven's name is Günter Pröpper?" Because the fact was, he was a local hero rather than a national star and went on his goalscoring rampage out of the limelight, in what was then the second tier of the German game. (Though it should be pointed out that he subsequently proved he could score quite freely in the Bundesliga, too.)

But first things first. Pröpper was born in 1941 in Dorsten, a town on the outer edge of the Ruhr industrial area, 18 miles north of Essen. He had eight siblings and since his father had been killed in the war, Günter needed to earn money early. Which is why a career in football wasn't the first thing on his mind - instead he went into the coal mines at age 14 and was later trained as a welder.

Yet he kept playing - and scoring - for his local team in his spare time and finally, in 1964, a bigger club picked him up: VfL Osnabrück, then playing in the Regionalliga Nord, one of the five regional second divisions. Osnabrück had a half-decent centre forward at that time by the name of Udo Lattek. Pröpper, however, was better and Lattek was pulled back into defensive midfield to accommodate him.

Even though Pröpper stood only 5ft 10in, he was excellent in the air; even though he wasn't the muscular type, he had a powerful shot with either foot; even though he had a benign, guileless air about him, he possessed the ruthless knack of being at the right place at the right moment in front of goal.

He scored 18 goals in his first season, 15 in his second, then won the league's Golden Boot with 25 in his third - all for a team that never finished higher than seventh place. This earned him a move to Rot-Weiss Essen in 1967. He was still in the second tier, now in the Regionalliga West, but with a club that had just been relegated from the Bundesliga and was hoping to bounce back soon.

In Essen, Pröpper encountered some more men destined for higher things, as his coaches were Erich Ribbeck and Kuno Klötzer. For reasons lost in the mists of time, the former gave Pröpper a few outings but the latter rarely played him, despite the fact the striker responded with goals whenever he saw action. In 1968-69, Pröpper became Essen's second-best scorer (with 17 goals, Willi Lippens had 23) yet still wasn't a regular.

So he jumped at the chance to join league rivals and neighbours Wuppertaler SV, a semi-professional club that also promised him a decent day job. Essen sold Pröpper for 30,000 Marks (around £3,400) - not one of the better deals in the club's history. Because in the hillside surrounding the Wupper river valley, in the city where Aspirin was invented, Pröpper exploded. In his first season, he scored 21 goals and Wuppertal finished third, only four points away from first place. In his second season, he scored 22 and Wuppertal missed out on top spot by a single point. (Bochum won the league and also promotion to the Bundesliga that year.)

Then, in 1971-72, history was made. The lightning-fast left winger Gustl Jung, the deep-lying playmaker Dieter Lömm and the two wing-backs called Manfred, Cremer and Reichert, became the main providers as Pröpper ran rampant. As early as the third matchday, he scored five goals in one game (against Erkenschwick, no pushovers) and on October 31, 1971, he had the sweetest revenge you can imagine when Wuppertal, in first place, travelled to Essen, then in third.

In front of 30,000 fans - many of whom booed when his name was announced prior to the game - Pröpper scored a hat-trick before the first half was over and later added a fourth goal for the final scoreline of 5-0. Coach Horst Buhtz took him off after 67 minutes and both sets of fans gave him a standing ovation as he left the pitch.

The scary thing about Pröpper's historic season is how easily it could have been even better. He missed two games on account of injuries - there was a match at Neuss in which Wuppertal netted six yet somehow he wasn't among the scorers - and in early April 1972, in a game against Lünen, he managed to waste not one but two penalties!

Still, when the regular season ended on May 14, with a 7-1 victory against Gütersloh in which he chalked up a hat-trick, Pröpper had set a record for the upper tiers of the German game by scoring 52 goals. Over the next weeks, he would score eight more as Wuppertal waltzed through the promotion rounds.

Add the goal he had scored against Kaiserslautern in the cup and you have 61 goals from 42 competitive games. Not bad for a 31-year-old. No wonder they dubbed him Meister Pröpper in Wuppertal. ("Meister Proper" was the German brand name of the Mr. Clean cleaning solution. "Meister" is related to "master" but can also mean "champion".)

Those who suspected that Pröpper could score in the lower division but not in the Bundesliga were proved wrong the following year. Wuppertal finished their first season in the top flight in a stunning fourth place and Pröpper, with 21 goals, was the third best scorer. Only Gerd Müller and Jupp Heynckes were more prolific, and of course they - and his age - were what kept Pröpper out of the national team.

A season later, 1973-74, Pröpper scored an entirely respectable 16 goals for a team that was now desperately fighting relegation, but eventually both he and his club ran out of steam. Wuppertal went down in 1975, never to return. (In 2004, the club merged with Borussia Wuppertal to form Wuppertaler SV Borussia.)

Pröpper finished his career, still at Wuppertal, in 1979, when he was almost 38. His club organised a testimonial game for him and although the German FA initially balked at the idea (arguing that only internationals should get a testimonial), stars like Günter Netzer and Wolfgang Overath readily agreed to play. Wuppertal defeated the All-Stars 7-4; Pröpper scored a brace.

P.S: Oh, to answer Paul's question: his longest scoring streak in his record season was six consecutive games, but only if we include the promotion rounds.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.