Gladbach's Hans-Jürgen Wittkamp hit Real Madrid with the back of the head - at least that's how I was told later
Photo: Horstmüller / imago images
When I was nine years old, I got to know great football.
He was about six feet tall, male, and blocked my view.
On that cold evening of March 3, 1976, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Real Madrid played against each other in the European Cup, what a big number.
It was the very first time in my life that I was in such a huge football stadium and I saw - nothing.
Borussia Mönchengladbach is a club that has led many years to live in the past.
After all, Borussia's greatest successes were a good 40 years ago now, and a large number of its fans have aged from this time and the ups and downs of the club that followed.
I am one of them.
In the evening, Borussia will play again against Real in the Champions League, but that is proof that the club is doing better than it has been for a long time.
And as if a higher power also had a black and green heart, they assigned the club to two teams in the group stage, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, which are indissolubly part of the club's biography.
No matter how much you defend yourself against this nostalgic and many outside Mönchengladbach just annoying transfiguration of the Netzer-Wimmer-Heynckes-Weisweiler years with the flying hair from the depths of the room, so little can you escape it this autumn 2020.
With the coach from East Westphalia
With the game against Inter Milan a week ago, the rifle throw at Roberto Boninsegna was ticked off, in 1971 I was still too young to adequately appreciate the drama about the Coke can on Bökelberg.
Five years later, however, I was already a little fan of success.
With the only flaw - so far I only knew Borussia from the sports show and from the WDR2 conference with Kurt Brumme.
But on this Wednesday evening a coach drove from East Westphalia to the Rhineland to Düsseldorf, where Borussia played their European home games.
On board: my father and me.
My very first soccer game, the only child on the bus among men, the only child later in the spectator block.
And my father was so tired at kick-off from lifting his son up in the standing stands that he had to use his resources elsewhere during the game.
After all, he needed his arms to cheer: Henning Jensen, the underrated second Dane in the team next to the big little Allan Simonson, scored 1-0 after just two minutes.
I didn't notice anything from this gate either, surrounded by all the great, exulting men around me, but I still remember that a clear line of sight to the scoreboard opened up for me.
And one of the pictures that I can call up from football to this day is the view from below between the men jumping up at the giant scoreboard of the Düsseldorf Rheinstadion, on which lights up: 2-0 Wittkamp (27th minute) .
A Gladbach 2-0 lead against Real Madrid, that was as sensational back then as it would be today.
Real Madrid, what a club, the president was Santiago Bernabeu back then, people today only know it as a stadium.
Real with the Pirri monument as captain, with the rogue Benito and Camacho in defense, with Vicente Del Bosque in midfield, with Paul Breitner - and of course with Günter Netzer.
Who really should have belonged in the other jersey.
He had turned his back on Borussia three years earlier after winning the cup.
And now this Günter Netzer wore the blue-black outfit of the Madrilenians.
How good that, thanks to the 1.90 men around me, I didn't have to watch it.
Real turned the game to a draw
However, I had to watch how the entries on the scoreboard changed in the course of the game: Roberto Martinez and Pirri brought Real to the final score of 2: 2.
Still: a draw against Real Madrid in the European Cup, not so bad for a first football game.
The local alternative would have been 1. FC Paderborn against SVA Gütersloh or SC Herford in the Verbandsliga West.
Nothing against 1. FC Paderborn, but the local heroes Alois Fortkord and Michael Vanderfeesten of those days were not a real option compared to Jupp Heynckes and Rainer Bonhof.
At night I went back on the bus, the apple grain was circulating around me, I have no idea how compulsory schooling was regulated back then, in any case it wasn't a vacation, in case of doubt I was missing the next day with a flimsy excuse, A subsequent apology to the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of Culture is hereby pronounced.
Gladbach's Uli Stielike sends the referee Leonardus van der Kroft a few friendly words afterwards
During the second leg in Madrid two weeks later in front of an incredible 120,000 spectators, the cloak of charity is to be spread here.
As the Gauls always emphasize with Asterix: "I don't know any Alesia" because they had a historical defeat against the Romans there, the Gladbach variant is called: "I don't know any Leonardus van der Kroft."
The Dutch referee, who denied two regular Borussia goals in the second leg when the score was 1: 1 and was never allowed to divorce again internationally, was, so to speak, the living rifle throw of this duel.
Gladbach left, and I learned for life: One of the reasons football takes so many people with it emotionally is because it's so unjust.
It took nine years of painful processing until Borussia met Madrid again in the European Cup: in 1985 the paths crossed in the Uefa Cup, Jupp Henyckes was meanwhile the Gladbach coach.
In the first leg, again in Düsseldorf, the team took cruel revenge on the Spaniards: 5-1.
Frank Mill, Uwe Rahn, Ewald Lienen, it was a single party, intoxicating, the voice of live commentator Heribert Fassbender overturned.
But as with almost every festival, the headache comes afterwards.
To be more precise: I had the flu that hit me in time for the second leg in Madrid.
With a fever of 40 degrees, I was able to watch Real TV turn the tables: two goals before the break, two after.
4: 0, another Alesia.
And that evening Heynckes might have had the idea that he should be a better coach in Madrid if he wants to win the European Cup.
This evening there is the third edition.
Just as a tip: No Borussia fan should start looking forward to the second leg in Madrid.
Gladbach against Real Madrid - there is no blessing on it.
Icon: The mirror