'Like Chess, Only without the Dice' German Football's Greatest Sayings

By David Gordon Smith

Part 3: Football Logic: 'Football Is Like Chess, only without the Dice'

Otto Rehhagel: You don't win some, you lose some.

Otto Rehhagel: You don't win some, you lose some.

As any devotee of the game will tell you, footballers do not always make complete sense in their utterances. Perhaps it is the endorphins rattling around their system, or the sheer exhaustion of running around for 90 minutes. In any case, one can only regard such nonsensical statements with awe and wonder if they, like Zen Buddhism's paradoxical koans, work on an intuitive level that transcends rational thought.

- Fussball ist wie Schach, nur ohne Würfel. (Football is like chess, only without the dice.)

This piece of Dadaist genius is attributed to Lukas Podolski, who is currently playing on the German side in Euro 2008. He appeared to be channeling Yogi Berra when he came up with this instant classic from the "like a fish needs a bicycle" school.

- Es gibt nur eine Möglichkeit: Sieg, Niederlage oder Unentschieden. (There is only one possibility: victory, defeat or a draw.)

There is only one possibility regarding this Franz Beckenbauer quote: He was sick the day they taught logic in school.

- Wenn der Mann in Schwarz pfeift, kann der Schiedsrichter auch nichts mehr ändern. (When the man in black whistles, the referee can no longer change anything.)

If the man in black is not the referee, then who is Andy Brehme, who scored the winning goal for Germany in the 1990 World Cup final, referring to exactly? Johnny Cash? Or is it the Grim Reaper himself, come to blow the final whistle on this all-too-brief game we call life?

- Mal verliert man und mal gewinnen die anderen. (Sometimes you lose, sometimes the others win.)

Otto Rehhagel, current manager of the Greek national side, managed to lead his team to victory in the 2004 European Championship despite this somewhat defeatist philosophy, which takes Herberger's attitude of indifference to a nihilistic new level.


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