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Matthias Sindelar
Personal information
Full name Matthias Sindelar
Date of birth 10 February 1903(1903-02-10)
Place of birth    Kozlov, Jihlava District, Austria-Hungary
Date of death    23 January 1939 (aged 35)
Place of death    Vienna, (Nazi) Germany
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Playing position Centre-forward
Youth career
1918–1924 Hertha Vienna
Senior career1
Years Club App (Gls)*
1924–1939 FK Austria Vienna    
National team
1926–1937 Austria 43 (27)

1 Senior club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only.
* Appearances (Goals)

Matthias Sindelar (10 February 1903 – 23 January 1939) was an Austrian footballer.

He played centre-forward for the celebrated Austria national team of the early 1930s known as the Wunderteam, which he captained at the 1934 World Cup.

Known as "The Mozart of football" or 'Der Papierene' - 'the Paper-man' for his slight build, he was voted the best Austrian footballer of the 20th Century in a 1999 poll by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS)[1] and was named Austria's sportsman of the century a year before.[2][3]



Of Czech descent, he was born Matěj Šindelář in Kozlov, Jihlava District, Moravia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, into a poor family of blacksmith Jan Šindelář and his wife Marie née Švengrová. The family moved to the Austrian capital Vienna in 1905 and settled in the district of Favoriten with a large Czech-speaking community. Young Matěj/Matthias began playing football in the streets of Vienna.

Club career (1918-1939)

At the age of 15, the Sindelar joined Hertha Vienna, playing there until 1924, when he was brought to FK Austria Vienna, whose name at the time was Wiener Amateur-SV, up to 1926. He helped the team win the Austrian Cup in 1925, 1926, 1933, 1935 and 1936, a league title in 1926, and the Mitropa Cup in 1933 and 1936.

In 2001, Sindelar was chosen in Austria's Team of the Century.

Austria national team

From 1926 to 1937, Sindelar was capped 43 times for his country, scoring 27 goals.[4] He scored four goals in his first three international matches, including one in his debut match, a 2-1 victory over Czechoslovakia on 28 September 1926. Sindelar became an essential part of the Austrian Wunderteam that was coached by Hugo Meisl.

1934 World Cup

Sindelar and Austria were especially prominent at the 1934 World Cup. The high point was their defeat of Hungary in quarterfinals, when Sindelar was matched up against centre-half György Sárosi, who would go on to claim a runners-up medal at the following World Cup in France. In a bruising encounter, one Hungarian was sent-off, and Johann Horvath, the Austrian midfielder, was injured and missed the semi-final against Italy. Austria then suffered a controversial defeat to the host nation, with Sindelar affected by the harsh marking of Luis Monti.

Austria v Germany 1938

On 3 April 1938, the Austrian team played Germany in the Prater Stadium in Vienna, its last match as an independent Austrian team, as some weeks earlier, Germany had annexed Austria (Anschluss) and the Nazis ordered the dissolution of the Austrian team into a common team with Germany, albeit it had qualified for the 1938 FIFA World Cup. The match (German: "Anschlussspiel") was dubbed as a game for celebrating the Anschluss and Austria's "coming home to the Reich". It therefore was supposed to finish as a draw, and for around 70 minutes Austria seemed to allow an inferior German side to control the game. However in the last 20 minutes, Sindelar and team-mate Karl Sesta both scored as the game finished 2-0. Sindelar is reported to have celebrated extravagantly in front of senior Nazi dignitaries. In the rematch, Germany responded by winning 9-1.

Death and myth

Always refusing to leave his home country, Sindelar rejected to play for Germany after the Austrian state was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938 (Anschluss), citing old age or injury as his excuse.

On 23 January 1939 both Sindelar and his girlfriend Camilla Castagnola were found dead at the apartment they shared in Vienna; the official verdict cited carbon monoxide poisoning as the cause.

Sindelar's grave at Vienna's Zentralfriedhof

Austrian writer Friedrich Torberg later dedicated the poem "Auf den Tod eines Fußballers" ("On the death of a footballer") to Sindelar. The poem suggested that he had committed suicide as a result of the German Anschluss of Austria in 1938. On the other hand, it has been thought and reported that his death was accidental, caused by a defective chimney.[5] However, in a 2000s documentary screened on the BBC, Egon Ulbrich, a lifelong friend of the Sindelar, stated that a local official was bribed to record his death as an accident, which ensured that he would receive a state funeral. "According to the Nazi rules, a person who had been murdered or who has committed suicide cannot be given a grave of honour. So we had to do something to ensure that the criminal element involved in his death was removed," he stated.[6]


Sindelar was ranked as Austria's best footballer of the twentieth century by the IFFHS, also ranking as the world's 22nd best. His career titles include:


External links

Simple English

Matthias Sindelar
Personal information
Full name Matthias Sindelar
Date of birth 10 February 1903(1903-02-10)
Place of birth    Jihlava, Austria-Hungary
Date of death    23 January 1939 (aged 35)
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Playing position Striker (retired)
Senior clubs
Years Club
Hertha Wien
Wiener Amateur / Austria Wien
National team
1926-1937 Austria
Teams managed
1937-1938 Austria Wien

Matthias Sindelar (born 10 February 1903 - died 23 January 1939) is a former Austrian football player. He has played for Austria national team.

International career statistics


Austria national team


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