Soccer World Cup 1982
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The German national goalkeeper Harald (Toni) Schumacher jumps at the French player Patrick Battiston (3) at full speed. © -/dpa

40 years after his foul against Frenchman Patrick Battiston in the 1982 World Cup semifinals, former national soccer goalkeeper Toni Schumacher gave a very moving account of his subsequent mental problems.

Seville/Cologne – “After this time it was with the, yes, depressions,” said Schumacher in the ZDF documentary “Century Game”.

“I called them gray wolves because that’s a better image. I was often sad, I withdrew. You then become dark and no longer let the joy get to you. You’re also built very close to the water,” said Schumacher. Battiston had to be carried off the field unconscious after the German goalkeeper was fouled, and Schumacher was referred to in the French media as “SS Schumacher”.

“The gray wolves circled me, but they didn’t manage to bite, because in the end I got everything under control mentally,” said Schumacher: “I didn’t allow myself to fall into this darkness or get caught up in it or overpower myself allow. I’m glad I managed to do it that way. And that my children helped, that I didn’t do anything stupid.”

Battiston, who lost three teeth and suffered a hairline fracture in his cervical spine, later apologized for not taking care of him on the pitch. “For the fact that I behaved so shitty afterwards,” said Schumacher: “The only way I can explain it is that I was unsure myself or was afraid of escalation. He accepted the apology.” Meanwhile, his quote that he was “paying the Frenchman the jacket crowns” was “actually a saying of relief” “because I thought it was something worse”. dpa

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