Former Juventus and Borussia Dortmund centre-back Jurgen Kohler has recalled Oliver Bierhoff’s golden goal that saw Germany beat the Czech Republic in the final at Euro 96.
The Czech Republic had led thanks to a penalty from Patrik Berger on the hour-mark, before Bierhoff was subbed on and changed the game. The striker equalised after heading home a whipped free-kick from Christian Ziege, and just five minutes into extra time, grabbed the golden goal after his deflected effort proved too hot for goalkeeper Petr Kouba to handle.
Bierhoff, who was hardly a household name in Germany at the time and only made his national team debut in February 1996, wrote himself into Die Mannschaft folklore with the brace.
“He was never actually a regular in the national team,” Kohler, who was also part of Germany’s squad at Euro 96, told 90min.de. “In Italy he also started in the second division, at a smaller club. Then he went to Udinese, where he scored regularly. He wasn’t as much in focus as other players.
“At first it didn’t look like we’d win this final. In the end, I think we deserved to win it. For Oliver Bierhoff it was the greatest personal success. That goal went down in history.”
Kohler, as with several of Germany’s 23-man squad, missed much of Euro 96 through injury, and has previously said that team is set apart from other tournament winners for being ‘mentality beasts’.
“I think that’s what distinguished us the most, when you think about how many injuries we had in the course of the tournament,” he said.
“Those were all injuries where the players had to leave or at least couldn’t play during the tournament. I had an inner ligament tear. Steffen Freund and Dieter Eilts tore their cruciate ligaments. At the end of the day, we still deservedly become European champions because what the team showed was fantastic.
“That was the characteristic of the tournament that despite the many injuries, the team understood how to always be there and concentrate on the essentials. That was always the great strength of German teams.
“Of course we also had a bit of luck, you need that too. We won 2-1 against Croatia in the quarter-finals, but I don’t think we were the better team there. You always have games like that in a tournament. When if you win it anyway, then that speaks for the fact that you can achieve great things.”
West Germany won the World Cup just six years earlier at Italia 90, but Kohler stressed that there were big differences between their two winning sides that decade.
“[We were] completely different. Despite the great individual quality, we managed to function as a team in 1990,” he said.
“In 1996 we no longer had these exceptional players – maybe one or the other, but no longer in this complete range. [Head coach] Berti Vogts was one – he learned a lot in the tournaments in 1992 and 1994. He was able to crown his long DFB career with the European Championship in 1996, which made me very happy.
“He never had such a high standing in public. But he still managed to conjure up such a team in ’96. With that he played a decisive role in the title.”