Snapshot: The tackle That Shocked the Nation

A horrific tackle and its consequences.

The 1981/82 season started on such a promising note for Werder Bremen. Otto Rehhagel’s green and whites had gained promotion in their previous campaign and got off to a flying start with a 4-2 away win against the Foals. However, what happened on match day 2 against Arminia Bielefeld put Werder and their defender Norbert Siegmann in a somewhat different light.

14 minutes of the match had passed when midfielder Ewald Lienen made a run down the left flank, trying to get through Werder’s defense. Werder defender Norbert Siegmann was hellbound on stopping Lienen, storming towards the advancing player and putting in a sliding tackle. Siegmann had clearly mistimed his tackle, prompting referee Medardus Luca to show the Werder defender the yellow card straight away.

The ref might have been a bit hasty in his decision making. What Luca hadn’t seen was the 25cm long flesh wound Siegmann’s studs had put into Lienen’s right thigh.

Rehhagel playing dirty?

Edwald Lienen didn’t spend a lot of time on the ground. Just half a minute after Siegmann’s tackle Lienen decided to get up and made his way towards the Bremen bench. The midfielder made his way through Bremen’s support staff and went directly at Bremen coach Rehhagel, telling him off.

After the match Arminia coach Horst Franz revealed that Lienen had heard Rehhagel telling his defenders to ”break him down”. Werder defender Siegmann has a somewhat different take on what had happened. He told 11 Freunde in an interview in 2012:

My god, I always gave 1000%, I wanted to win. Bielefeld’s players went at us like a bunch of mad guys. At some point Otto yelled:”Get back at them.” I didn’t mean to do him any harm.

Despite the horrific outcome, Siegmann is still adamant about the incident simply being and accident:

If I  willingly wanted to foul him, I wouldn’t have pulled back like I did.

The TV pictures of Siegmann’s foul were shown around the world just the same. Arminia’s medical staff thought that Lienen had to stay away from the pitch for two months(In the end Lienen managed to return from his injury after 17 days).

The aftermath

Siegmann himself doesn’t like to look back on this episode. The tackle gave him the reputation of being a player who liked to knock his opponents around unfairly, never mind the fact that he never was sent off in any of his 209 Bundesliga matches.

After a couple of days I started to receive death threats. The police came into the picture then, offering me protection. I took them up on that offer, because there were some blokes lingering around outside of my house.

Siegmann decided to vacate his apartment for a little while, allowing things to cool down.

Ewald Lienen’s grudge towards the people who had harmed him saw the midfielder suing both Rehhagel and Siegmann for their conduct, but the case was thrown out by the court in the end. The DFB decided to leave matters as they were, because referee Luca had spotted the foul.

Siegmann was left out of the squad for the return match against Armina, whilst Rehhagel wore a bullet proof vest to the match, because of the numerous death threats the Werder coach had received.

Not for the faint hearted

Siegmann thinks these days that he would have been suspended for a year if referee Luca had sent him off instead of issuing a yellow card. You can make up your mind about whether or not Luca should have sent Lienen off by watching the foul yourself, but please be aware of the fact that this clip isn’t for the faint hearted!

Feel free to leave a comment below? Tell us what you think about Siegmann’s challenge on Lienen!

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 33-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

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