Uwe Seeler, One of Germany’s Greatest Soccer Players, Dies at 85

Pele, the Brazilian soccer great, included Seeler in his list of the world’s greatest living players in 2004.

“His handling of the ball was perfect, his shot precise, and what really amazed me was his ability to head the ball,” Pele said.

In a special supplement to celebrate Seeler’s 80th birthday in 2016, the Hamburg club wrote: “If Uwe Seeler laced up his boots, then the opposing goalkeeper could dress up warmly and preferably put on a second pair of gloves, because Seeler scored from everywhere and in every possible way. Whether overhead kicks, flying headers, shots from distance, volleys, lobs, opportunist strikes — he always found a way to get the ball over the line.”

Seeler won the German championship in 1960 and the German Cup in 1963 with Hamburg, but he also endured heartbreak with near misses in the European Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup. Hamburg lost to Barcelona in the European Cup semifinals in 1961 and to Milan in the Cup Winners’ Cup final in 1968.

Seeler, who was born in Hamburg on Nov. 5, 1936, suffered repeated health setbacks in recent years. In May 2020 he underwent an operation to repair a broken hip after a bad fall at home. He lost his hearing in his right ear and had problems with balance after a car accident in 2010. He also had a pacemaker fitted and had to have a tumor removed from his shoulder, the news agency DPA reported.

Seeler and his wife, Ilka, were married for more than 60 years. They had three daughters. His grandson Levin Öztunali plays for the Bundesliga club Union Berlin. Seeler’s older brother, Dieter, also played for Hamburg. His father, Erwin, worked on a barge in Hamburg’s port and was also known for playing soccer in that city.

Complete information on survivors was not immediately available.

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