Germany are the next FIFA World Cup side that we explore Rovers connections with.
Holders Germany are competing in their eighteenth World Cup Finals and they won the tournament in 1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014.
The German Pirates
Five players born in Germany have represented Bristol Rovers.
Born in Neumünster in September 1946, full back Wilf Smith (pictured) enjoyed a long career with Sheffield Wednesday but also played in 54 League games with Rovers in the early 1970s, scoring twice.
Fabian Broghammer was born in Heppenheim in January 1990 and joined Rovers in July 2012 from Bayern Alzenau on a free transfer; he was to score twice in 26 (+14) League matches with The Gas before returning to Germany.
Steve Mildenhall’s injury in December 2014 led Rovers to bring in goalkeeper Fabian Spiess, born in Wesel in February 1994, to play three Conference matches on loan; he now plays for Nantwich Town.
Kenan Dünnwald-Turán, who was born in Düsseldorf in November 1995, played one game last season for Rovers as a substitute at Fratton Park.
Mo Baghdadi, born in October 1996 in Hanover, came on twice last season as a substitute for Rovers in League action.
The German International
When Rovers played Walsall in September 2008, the Saddlers included in their side Marco Reich, who was born in Mannheim in December 1977.
Reich remains to this day the only opponent to face Rovers who has also won a full international cap for Germany. His solitary national appearance came when Germany and Colombia drew 3-3 in a friendly in Miami in February 1999.
Reich’s career took in Kaiserslautern, for whom he played in an impressive 138 Bundesliga games over five years, Köln, Werder Bremen and Kickers Offenbach before he turned his hand to football in the West Midlands.
Nine German Opponents
Marco Reich is one of nine German opponents to face Rovers in the League.
This figure is a debatable one, for I have omitted those born to British parents stationed in Germany in Army barracks, such as Plymouth Argyle’s Welsh international David Phillips or, in April 2018, Derrick Williams of Blackburn Rovers.
Reich aside, Rovers have faced, Patrick Bauer (Charlton Athletic), Dieter Kruszynski (Brentford), Alec Eisenträger (1927-2017) of Bristol City, Uwe Hartenberger (who was sent off playing for Reading against Rovers in January 1994), Max Ehmer (Gillingham), Dirk Lehmann (Fulham), Thorsten Stuckmann (Chesterfield) and Rouven Sattelmeier (Bradford City).
The first German to oppose Rovers may have been Max Seeburg (1884-1972), who was born in Leipzig and played for Reading against Rovers in the Southern League in both games of the 1912/13 season, scoring in the first fixture.