Tradition 02/27/2019, 09:04 AM


The footballer Matthias Sindelar not only shapes the identity of Austria Wien to this day, but the life and playing style of the "Papierenen" (his nick name because of his slender figure) fascinate countless writers, artists, journalists and fans far beyond the city limits of Vienna even 80 years after his death.

The legacy of Matthias Sindelar
© Bildagentur Zolles KG
© Bildagentur Zolles KG

The Argentine sports reporter Camilo Francka, who published the latest and probably most comprehensive biography of Sindelar in 2018, puts it in a nutshell: "He symbolized the sensitivity, the aesthetic sense of football and the elegance, all elements that reflected the commoner world of thought of which the amateurs were imbued with."

Sindelar’s playing style shapes the identity of Austria Wien

In the summer of 1924 Sindelar signed his first contract with the “Amateure” (the former name of Austria Wien), where he soon became a cult figure. Because of his slender figure and his disembodied play, the "Papierene" shaped the identity of Austria Wien with his tricky and technically savvy game.

"Sindelar was a true champion as a conductor and almost all his actions were performed in a beautiful style," wrote the ‘Sporttagblatt’ after a 6-1 victory of Austria Wien and three goals by Sindelar against FAC on November 28th, 1926. The same day the Vienna Amateur Sports Club was renamed to Austria Wien at the General Assembly at the Dom-Café. Sindelar's playing style has since become inseparable from the ‘Violets’.

The Viennese School

"Obviously physical fitness is also a prerequisite for success in the Viennese game, otherwise, we want to make up for the small handicap of lower speed and harshness with fast, precise combinations and surprising and numerous game variations", Sindelar is quoted by Francka. Austria Wien’s icon shaped the Viennese school of football, was not only a pioneer with his style of play, but also the embodiment of what the Austria Wien fan wants to see on the pitch:

"(...) more playfulness than combat strength, more technique than athletics and much whim. True to the - probably cliché afflicted - image of the beginning of the Austria Wien fan: More coffee than tavern, more brain than mass, but at least equipped with the capacity for suffering," writes Peter Pelinka in his book ‘Die Eleganz des runden Leders’.

Loyal to Austria Wien and the beloved ‘Favoriten’

Sindelar’s close emotional attachment to Vienna’s district ‘Favoriten’, where he found his home at the age of three, is confirmed by many contemporary witnesses. According to Francka, those who knew Sindelar personally always pointed out his modesty. "Sindelar was a passionate card player, he liked to ride horses and was always friendly when children from ‘Favoriten’ approached him," writes the Argentine sports reporter.

"He always remained faithful to Vienna and his beloved ‘Favoriten’, although he had many lucrative offers from top international clubs. Matthias Sindelar has left striking marks as an athlete and a human being," emphasizes Austria Wien CEO Markus Kraetschmer.

Marks that are still taken up internationally by writers, artists and journalists. Sindelar was not only athletic, but also a pioneer in terms of marketing of modern football, was one of the first athletes worldwide who acted as a promotional testimonial. The Austria Wien star moves and inspires people even 80 years after his death.

The Italian State Television Rai Uno recently gave Sindelar a prominent place in the Friday evening program with an emotionally-charged speech. A sports reporter from France is currently researching for a book about Sindelar, and visited his grave on the 80th anniversary of his death. The Viennese writer and director Wilhelm Pellert performed a piece dedicated to Sindelar on February 21st, 2006. There is even a music group in Argentina, whose name goes back to Sindelar.

Scientific research

Great interest is given to his role at the time of the NS regime. The popular narrative of the resistance of Matthias Sindelar against the Nazi regime was critically questioned in the course of the scientific review of the history of Austria Wien and partially debunked. "After the imposed abolition of professional players Sindelar used his role as a ‘poster boy’ of amateurization to acquire Café Annahof as part of an Aryanization. (...) The example of Austria Wien shows above all that the popular culture of Viennese football evades the simple dichotomy of instrumentalization and resistance, of identity politics and affiliation, but also of power and hegemony," summed up the team of scientists.

In the Austria Wien Museum and in the tales within the Austria Wien family, he is and always will be remembered as one of the world's most blessed footballers of all time. A child from 'Favoriten’.

Pos. Team Games Points
1. FC Red Bull Salzburg 31 49
2. LASK 31 37
3. RZ Pellets WAC 31 28
4. FK Austria Wien 31 27
5. SK Puntigamer Sturm Graz 31 24
6. spusu SKN St. Pölten 31 21
Pos. Team Games Points
1. SK Rapid Wien 31 32
2. SV Mattersburg 31 28
3. CASHPOINT SCR Altach 31 25
4. FC Flyeralarm Admira 31 22
5. TSV Prolactal Hartberg 31 19
6. FC Wacker Innsbruck 31 17
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