Back then German top football was divided into five divisions: north, west, south, south west and Berlin. The top teams of each division would play a knock out round in two four team groups. Both group winners would meet in the final of the German title race. A long campaign was climaxing in this ever so prestigious game, and hopes were high at both clubs to become the best team in the country.
There is also another angle – the regional aspects of Frankfurt and Offenbach being direct geographical neighbours and emotions always get fiery inside and outside the stadiums. Ever since there have been dramatic and at times hostile derbies between the two. Now this was a chance to put the reign of the Rhein Main area right, it was THE event for the region. I mean, what are the chances to have a classic regional derby in the most important football game of the country?!
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Eigenbrodt took over as last man from Horvat who was ill, skipper Pfaff was also not in full shape and started in the front left position where there’s not as much running needed as in the half left position – filled by Lindner. Sztani on half right and Kreß right proved to be a powerful and crucial wing combination.
It was Paul Oßwald’s third coaching reign at Eintracht where he had aleady been managing from 1928 to 1933 and from 1935 to 1938. And guess what club he was at before he rejoined Frankfurt in the summer of 1958? Oh yes – Kickers Offenbach. The final in Berlin was also named the ‘Oßwald derby’ as both teams showed clearly the coaches influence and tactical set up.
Eintracht captain and leader was Alfred Pfaff (later nicknamed Don Alfredo relating his skills to those of the great Alfredo Di Stefano) – a powerful midfielder who had that special something that made him able to decide games on his own. He was a true Frankfurt boy who had played his first games for Eintracht as a 10 year old boy. He had a great shot, fantastic passing and a sense for goal scoring opportunities. He was also a distinct character, running a pub was his prime occupation. Sometimes he would have a break during the game at the sideline to have a chat with the crowd. Then he would return to the pitch and score an amazing goal from a freekick or so to clinch the win for Eintracht.
Eintracht had played a great campaign so far clinching the south division title having scored 71 goals in 30 matches – 2.4 goals on average per game. In the outstanding knock out stage they had a 100% record winning all their six games. They beat Bremen twice scoring 11 goals in those games, and all away matches were high scoring wins: 7-2 in Bremen, 4-2 in Cologne and 6-2 in Pirmasens. Eintracht went to the final in Berlin after a series of 30 unbeaten competitive games.
The the Olympic stadium in Berlin hosted a crowd of 75.000. Reports tell us that 5.000 cheerful fans made their way to Berlin either supporting Eintracht or Kickers, and the excitement spread all over the place as well as back home in Frankfurt. They mainly came by car, travelling through East Germany – this was the chance to get a glimpse of football history, and Eintracht was directly involved in it. It was also five years after the ‘Miracle of Bern’ where Germany had clinched the World Cup against Hungary. That success had given the country a boost after the destruction and economical pain coming along with World War 2, and it also had sparked an ever higher passion in football.
It couldn’t have started better. Straight from kick off Eintracht scored, after only 15 seconds or so of the game. Hungarian half right Istvan Sztani who had played a fantastic season scored, but it only lasted 7 more minutes until Offenbach came back to score the equalizer. Feigenspan for Eintracht and Preisendoerfer for Kickers made it 2-2 but after minute 22 there would be no further goals in the full 90 minutes. So the German final went to extra time.
In the 92nd minute referee Asmussen gave a penalty to Frankfurt, Kreß had been fouled, and Feigenspan stepped up to score the crucial 3-2. Offenbach missed a great chance to equalize but then once again Sztani scored to make it 4-2. Kickers got one back but when Feigenspan walked the ball into the goal after an incredible Kreß solo it was done and dusted: Eintracht Frankfurt were champions of Germany!
From the final whistle it was party party party within the Eintracht team and the away fans in Berlin, and of course in Frankfurt where people had watched the game in pubs and everywhere else where there was a TV available. With the local rivalry climaxing in this classic game it was a tense affair all the way through, but with the Happy End for Eintracht. Their first and so far only German championship was sealed and unbelievable celebrations went ahead. 300.000 people gave the team a reception in the streets and around the town hall square ‘Roemerberg’ when they came back to Frankfurt. Every single player of that season remained a hero ever since and they have all a safe spot in Eintracht’s all time hall of fame.