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

Everyone knows the expression "It's a game of two halves," but few outside Germany have benefited from the wisdom contained in classic football sayings such as "The ball is round." To mark the EURO 2008 football tournament, SPIEGEL ONLINE has collected German soccer's most profound quotes.

By David Gordon Smith

Lukas Podolski famously compared football to chess without the dice.

Lukas Podolski famously compared football to chess without the dice.

It's surely no coincidence that the great 20th century philosopher Albert Camus was also a passionate goalkeeper who once observed that "All I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football."

After all, what other sport has produced so much wisdom, preserved for eternity in the pithy utterances of its practioners? Over the years, the beautiful game has built up a corpus of wise sayings comparable to the koan riddles of Zen Buddhism in their -- often unfathomable -- profundity.

Many SPIEGEL ONLINE readers will be familiar with the classic sayings of the English game, such as "It's a game of two halves" or "Football isn't a matter of life or death -- it's much more important than that." But they may be less well acquainted with the scriptures of German football. Indeed, the country, which is as famous for its Premier League philosophers like Nietzsche and Kant as for its world-class footballers, has produced more than its fair share of great football wisdom over the decades.

Hence, on the occasion of the European Championship, SPIEGEL ONLINE has put together a world-beating line-up of the best German football sayings. Read on to discover what great minds like Franz Beckenbauer, Lukas Podolski and Sepp Herberger have to say about the existentialism in motion that is the game of football.


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