The golden eagle has been a feature at Eintracht since the 2006/07 season
It is a truth universally acknowledged that much of Eintracht’s success on the field can be attributed to its widely established scouting network. And yet, even the wisest talent-spotter knows that sometimes, it is simply a case of being in the right place at the right time. The same could be said of the first appearance of the Frankfurt golden eagle, which caught the eye of many admirers at an air show in 2006, including that of an Eintracht employee who was on the look-out for a lucky mascot for the club following promotion to the top flight. A number of secret test-flights were carried out in the Commerzbank Arena before Attila - who hails from Coburg in Bavaria - made a very fitting public debut at the DFB Cup final in Berlin against Bayern Munich.
Despite Eintracht falling to a 1-0 defeat on his debut, the fledgling mascot would go on to make plenty of appearances, literally bringing the club and the city emblem to life. Along with his handler Norbert Lawitschka, Attila is the talisman that drives the team on at every home match as a calm yet motivational force for the players. Just ask Alex Meier, who found the back of the net shortly after stroking the eagle’s wings before one particular match. The King of the Skies has also made two more trips to the nation’s capital – admittedly via the motorways in a special transporter. In 2017, he and the team came up short before 2018 saw them erase the bitter memories of his debut flight with revenge over Bayern.
It didn’t take long for Attila for earn a place in the hearts of the fans.Norbert Lawitschka
Win, lose or draw, Eintracht’s management have come to rely on the calming presence of the four-kilogram bird of prey. Former coach Thomas Schaaf, for example, was struggling to keep his cool on the sidelines as he made his club debut against SC Freiburg in 2014, until the docile golden eagle brought him back down to earth. “An eagle is surprisingly elegant, almost majestic. Attila is an incredible beast,” Schaaf explained. Austrian coach Adi Hütter has also built up a rapport with Attila, due no doubt to the fact that the two of them were born in the shadow of the Alps.
Eagles have featured behind the scenes since 1993 when Klaus Toppmöller brought an adult golden eagle into the changing rooms to motivate his players. While this did not prove to be a long-term concept, Attila and his 1.90-metre wingspan has very much become a fixture. This has come to the detriment of his finding a mate, since under normal circumstances time is tight in his calendar – he and his handler spend time with the first team and also visit the football academy once a week as well as attending various Eintracht-related events. Indeed, the noble bird often finds himself invited to TV studios and to the sports journalists’ ball. “Mating season for eagles is only in February and March,” Lawitschka said, and as we all know, there is usually plenty of football going on at that time of year. “It’s the same with plenty of fans: when Eintracht come calling, love has to take a back seat,” the falconer added with a wry smile. The good news, however, is that golden eagles have a life expectancy of up to 40 years providing that they have the right lifestyle, which Attila certainly gets in the form of quails and pigeons to eat and plenty of flying time in his aviary just outside Gelnhausen.
- Eagles have poorer hearing than humans but their vision is ten times superior.
- His usual diet comprises rabbit legs, pigeon pieces and small chickens.
- Date of birth: 30 April 2004
- Place of birth: Coburg (Bavaria)
- Nationality: German
- Position: mascot
- Joined Eintracht: 2006/07 season
- Weight: 3.9 kilogrammes
- Wingspan: 1.90 metres
- Handler: Norbert Lawitschka
- E-mail address: n.lawitschka-falkenzucht(at)gmx.de
- Telephone: +49 (0)171 6942400