By Stephen Byrne
The Fifa World Cup begins in Brazil on 12th June and we will be looking at Rovers’ connections with all participating countries.
Surprisingly, Germany has few Bristol Rovers connections. One player though, who was born in Germany, is Wilf Smith, a Rovers full-back between March 1975 and November 1976.
Born Wilfred Schmidt in Neumünster on 3rd September 1946, Smith's name was anglicised on his arrival in England as a young child. As a talented defender, he appeared in the 1966 FA Cup final for Sheffield Wednesday, who lost 3-2 to Everton, before joining Rovers from Coventry City.
Smith played in 54 league games for Rovers, scoring twice, before joining Chesterfield and has since become a successful retail businessman in Yorkshire.
The second German national to represent Rovers in the Football League was Fabian Broghammer. Born in Heppenheim in January 1990, he joined Rovers from Bayern Alzenau in the summer of 2012 and scored three goals in 26(+14) League appearances.
Stéphane Léoni, a French-born full-back who played in 25(+11) League games for Rovers between 1998 and 2000, signed for the German Second Division side Greuther Fürth in February 2004. He did not make their first team and, after three appearances for their amateur side, returned to France to join Rouen in July 2004.
Geoff Taylor, who appeared three times in Rovers' colours in the 1951-52 season, was coach at seven German clubs between May 1955 and his retirement in 1984. Starting as player-coach at VFR07 Kirn, he subsequently coached at Sobernheim, Idar Oberstein, Weierbach, Bergen, Schwarzerden and Bundenbach, where he died in 2007.
The former Rovers manager Mark McGhee scored against SV Hamburg as Aberdeen secured the European Super Cup in December 1983 and then joined Hamburg six months later for £285,000, scoring seven times in thirty Bundesliga appearances.
Jack Beby, Rovers’ regular goalkeeper in the 1932-33 season, coached in Germany in the late 1940s, though his exact career details have proved difficult to prove.
Kevin Westaway's football career was ended by serious injuries sustained in a road accident in Germany. He had appeared in just two league games for Rovers in 1981 and 1982.
Marco Reich, who played for Germany against Colombia in Miami in February 1999 and is thus the only German international to face Rovers in the Football League, was in the Walsall side that defeated Rovers 3-1 in September 2008.
Born in Mannheim in December 1977, Reich had previously played for Kaiserslautern, Cologne, Werder Bremen and Kickers Offenbach.
Several German-born players have opposed Rovers in League action, amongst them Detsi Kruszynski (Brentford), Dirk Lehmann (Fulham), Uwe Hartenberger (Reading), Maximilian Ehmer (Yeovil Town) and Alec Eisentrager (Bristol City), as well as Moritz Volz (Fulham) in the FA Cup.
Other opponents have gone on to play in Germany later in their careers, amongst them Dean Thomas, David Mitchell, François Laurent, Marek Saganowski, Alex Nyarko, Danny Sonner, Ali Gerba, Dariusz Dziekanowski, Rui Marques, Sieb Dykstra, Arnar Gunnlaugsson, Shefki Kuqi, Kasey Keller, Paul Agostino, Bjarki Gunnlaugsson, Zoltan Stieber, Simoen Jackson, Vilmos Sebok, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Stefan Thordarson, José Dominguez, Bruno Berner, Amara Simba, Wayne Cegielski and Abdou Sall.
Although born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Juvhel Tsoumou was a German U-19 international and played for Frankfurt and Alemannia Aachen, before playing for Plymouth Argyle against Rovers in March 2012.
Steve McClaren, Wolfsburg’s manager in 2010-11, was in the Bristol City side which lost to Rovers on New Year’s Day 1987.
Brian Woodall, who scored a hat-trick for Dagenham and Redbridge against Rovers in May 2012, spent the 2006-07 season with SC Herford, scoring sixteen goals in thirty matches.
Oliver Risser, a Namibian formerly with Dortmund, Sondhausen, Bonn and Hannover, played for Swindon Town against Rovers in December 2011; his brother Wilko, who played for Aldershot Town against Rovers in March 2012, was formerly with FV Engers, Schalke 04 and Eintracht Trier.
This season, Scotsman Chris Iwelumo, previously with Alemannia Aachen, appeared for Scunthorpe United against Rovers.
Fred Spiksley played for Watford against Rovers in the Southern League in March 1906 and later played for 1860 Munich and Nuremberg. James Townley was with Hamburg for the 1922-23 season and later played for Orient in their two League fixtures against Rovers in the 1929-30 campaign.
Wilhelm Stolz, born in Pontefract to German immigrant parents, was in the Bedminster side Rovers defeated 5-2 in the Southern League in January 1900.
When England defeated West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final, the future Rovers player Alan Ball was in the England side. Ball represented Rovers in 17 league games, scoring twice, in the 1982-83 season.
Geoff Hurst, who scored three goals that day in 1966, was the son of Charlie Hurst, a former reserve player at Eastville.
Six of the England side that day played against Rovers in the Football League and three more did so in cup competitions, leaving Nobby Stiles as the only 1966 winner who never played against Rovers in competitive football. Jack Charlton and Geoff Hurst played against Rovers and managed sides against Rovers.