Football Germany mourns the loss of Hans-Jürgen “Dixie” Dörner. The Dynamo Dresden club icon died after a serious illness at the age of 70.
He was the “Beckenbauer of the East” – even if Hans-Jürgen Dörner didn’t like to read that about himself. But the comparison with Franz Beckenbauer came to mind. “Dixie” Dörner was also way ahead of his time with his modern interpretation of the libero, and he was also considered the shining light of football in the former GDR.
On Wednesday night, the most talented player that East Germany has produced died six days before his 71st birthday after a long and serious illness. “Dear ‘Dixie’, we will miss you forever and yet you will always be with us,” wrote second division club Dynamo Dresden on its website about the club icon: “Rest in peace!”
Dresden, the east, indeed all of football Germany mourns the loss of one of its greatest. “The news blew my mind, I’m deeply affected and stunned,” said Dörner’s longtime companion Ede Geyer to “SID”: “Dixie and I fought a lot of fights, he had that certain something and was an inspiration for many footballers.”
Dynamo Dresden “in deep mourning”
100 international matches, five championship titles, five cup wins, Olympic gold in 1976, three times footballer of the year in the GDR – Dörner’s playing career was crowned with success. Only one thing bothered him to death: because of jaundice, he missed the 1974 World Cup and the sensational 1-0 victory in Hamburg over big brother Germany.
Dynamo loses its record professional, honorary captain, its supervisory board member – and an ardent fan. Dörner was always a black and yellow with heart and soul. “As far as football is concerned, I was always satisfied in Dresden,” he once said, “I never had the desire for change.”
His death plunged the club “in deep mourning,” said Dynamo President Holger Scholze. In Dörner, “not only did the greatest player in the club’s history pass away,” said Scholze, “we also lost a person who had conquered all of our hearts.” For more than five decades, Dörner has “worried in an impressive and outstanding way on and off the pitch for the colors of our city and our association”.
Sammer on Dörner: “You were far ahead of your time”
As a thank you, the club issued a commemorative stamp with the appropriate value of 70 cents in 2021 on the occasion of Dörner’s 70th birthday. Dörner made 558 appearances for Dresden in all competitions, scoring 101 goals. In October 2019, Dörner, whose coaching career never got going after an unfortunate start at Werder Bremen (“We Osttrainers didn’t have a great standing”), was inducted into the “Hall of Fame” of the German Football Museum.
For Matthias Sammer, who later had an international career himself, Dörner was a role model as a teenager. “You were way ahead of your time,” said Sammer to Dörner’s last birthday: “Pep Guardiola would have enjoyed you.”
Dörner didn’t like so much fuss about his person. “I am not the Messiah,” he once said. Born in Görlitz, he was rather reserved, “but when the song ‘Mendocino’ was played,” revealed Geyer, “then he could also come out of himself.”
The question of the origin of his nickname “Dixie”, which he has worn since childhood, will probably remain unanswered after his death. “I don’t know from whom and why,” said Dörner once: “It has nothing to do with the old cars or with the Dixieland Festival.”
Hermann Winkler, President of the Northeast German Football Association, was “dismayed and stunned”. Dörner’s death means “a turning point for football in East Germany and in Saxony. The people here looked up to him, he was a figure I could identify with, he inspired the masses as a player, and touched hearts as a person”.
Dynamo wants to request a minute’s silence for the second division away game next Sunday (1:30 p.m. / Sky) at Hannover 96. In addition, the team should play with black ribbons as a sign of sympathy.