UEFA president Michel Platini has attended the celebrations in Leipzig to mark the 20th anniversary of German football's reunification – and has recalled his own experiences as a footballer playing against teams from the former East and West Germanies.
Mr Platini was present at Sunday's jubilee festivities at the Leipzig congress centre, and also watched the commemorative match on Saturday that brought together a selection of West Germany's 1990 FIFA World Cup winners and a team of legendary players from East Germany, who triumphed 2-1. The reunification of Germany also meant the coming together of the two national football associations of the time: the DFV in the East and the DFB in the West.
"Today's celebrations have a very moving reason," Mr Platini told guests at the gala event. "You are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the reunification of the two German football associations, and I am very proud to be your guest today. I hope you will have even more reasons to celebrate in the future."
Mr Platini also took the opportunity to congratulate and meet DFB president Dr Theo Zwanziger during his visit. Dr Zwanziger would speak at the congress centre about the great potential of the eastern region – "to become a central area for football like we already have in the Ruhr".
The UEFA president also remembered occasions when he played for France against sides from the two Germanies – in particular the memorable 1982 World Cup semi-final in Spain, which West Germany won on penalties after a 3-3 draw over 120 minutes. "The unbelievable night of Sevilla," as Mr Platini described it.
"I would actually prefer to talk about a cold night in February 1977 at the Parc des Princes in Paris," he added. "France won [1-0] and in the West German team there were two players I would later meet even more frequently – Franz Beckenbauer and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge." That pair have since become notable football administrators on the German and European stages.
Turning to matches against East Germany, Mr Platini recalled two games in which he represented France – appropriately for the weekend's festivities – in Leipzig, in 1985 and 1986. East Germany won the first 2-0, while the second ended in a goalless draw. "And in 1976 we lost against East Germany [4-0] in the Olympic Games quarter-final in Ottawa," he reflected. "East Germany went on to win the gold medal.
"Given the results, it was perhaps also better that I never played against an all-German team," the UEFA president told his audience with a smile.
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