60 years of Bundesliga

Timo Konietzka and the first-ever Bundesliga goal


On August 24, 1963, the ball landed in the box after just 58 seconds and Borussia Dortmund's Friedhelm 'Timo' Konietzka was in the right place at the right time to score the first goal in Bundesliga history, with Werder Bremen on the receiving end.

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Konietzka's goal will never be forgotten. His Borussia Dortmund were away at Werder Bremen on the first matchday of the 1963/64 season. Unfortunately, there were no TV cameras in the stadium at all that day, “and the photographers were all behind our goal because they were speculating on Bremen taking the lead,” explained Konietzka, who was born in Lünen in 1938. The photgraphers' premonitions weren't completely off, however as Werder went on to score three times in a 3-2 victory. 

What the cameras failed to capture went as follows: Dortmund's Lothar Emmerich broke through the left, got to the by-line and picked out Konietzka who had entered the penalty area. The latter scored from around eight yards. It was the first of a total of 72 Bundesliga goals for Konietzka, whose career took in Dortmund (1958-1965) and 1860 Munich (1965-1967).

Timo Konietzka was also prolific during his time at 1860 Munich as well. - IMAGO / WEREK

As Konietzka proudly expained of his record, he got those 72 goals in just 100 Bundesliga games “without penalties or free-kicks."

"Only Gerd Müller has a better rate than I do,” the attacker once proudly said. Konietzka won the league title twice as a player: first in 1963 with Dortmund and then the Bundesliga in 1966 with 1860. In addition to a DFB Cup victory, which he achieved with BVB in 1965, he also won the West German Cup twice with the Black-and-Yellows.

At the age of 24, the centre forward made his international debut for Germany. National team coach Sepp Herberger used Konietzka nine times, the forward scoring three goals and providing one assist. He did not feature at a World Cup or a European Championship.

Timo Konietzka scored three times for Germany. - IMAGO / Ferdi Hartung

Konietzka's strong scoring rate

Konietzka was a child of the Ruhr area. The attacker worked 700 meters underground at the Victoria colliery and also played football for VfB Lünen. He was discovered by BVB in 1958 at the age of 20. “Football brought me from the mine to my dream club and I was able to travel around the world without having to pay anything for it,” he recalled in an interview.

It was legendary coach Max Merkel who incorporated Konietzka into the Borussia team. The striker scored on his Oberliga debut, netting the winning goal in a 2-1 triumph against Alemannia Aachen. Konietzka played 110 games for Dortmund before the Bundesliga was founded. His 79 goals scored afterwards is testament to the immense threat he posed.

At that time, BVB also had Jürgen “Charly” Schütz playing up front. Together, the two strikers formed the deadliest duo in the Oberliga West.

Timo Konietzka's strike partner, Jürgen Schütz. - IMAGO / Horstmüller

Together with Schütz, Konietzka came up with a very special type of penalty. Schütz initially tapped the ball on the penalty spot while Konietzka ran into the box and converted. "Opponents and referees looked puzzled,” the attacker chuckled. “We were the first to ever do something like that.”

The penalty trick was revived on the big stage in 2016 when Lionel Messi scored for Barcelona against Celta Vigo. Instead of shooting himself and scoring his 300th goal in Spain's La Liga, Messi simply played the ball slightly to the right. Luis Suarez rushed in from outside the box and then easily scored to make it 4-1 for Barca.

The Spanish daily AS called it the “penalty of the century.” But the first to do this trick were certainly not Messi and Suarez. Johan Cruyff also scored for Ajax with this trick in 1982, but the Dutch legend even played a one-two from the spot. The trick likely had its first outing thanks to Konietzka and Schütz at BVB.

Timo Konietzka (r.) setting the tone at FC Zürich. - IMAGO / WEREK

After his time with 1860 Munich, Konietzka went to Switzerland to play for FC Winterthur in 1967. Four years later, he moved to FC Zürich, where he served as player-coach for two years. Between 1974 and 1977, he was crowned champion in Switzerland three times in a row. In addition, Konietzka won the Swiss Cup three times with Zurich. In 1977, Konietzka and Zurich went all the way to the European Cup semi-finals, where they were ultimately beaten by Liverpool.

In the Bundesliga, the former attacker also coached Dortmund and Bayer Uerdingen. However, in Germany, Konietzka was unable to fully build on his coaching successes in Switzerland, where he enjoyed a fourth league title with Grasshoppers Zurich.

But why was he actually called “Timo”? Because of his military haircut, which he had since his time in the army. “When I came to training with it, Jockel Bracht said that I looked like the Russian general Timoshenko. From then on, everyone called me Timo.” In 1985, Konietzka officially took on the name.

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