The 83-year-old Seeler has repeatedly suffered health setbacks in recent years. After a car accident in 2010, the former striker lost hearing in his right ear and had problems with balance. He also had a pacemaker fitted and had to have a tumor removed from his shoulder, news agency dpa reported.
Regarded as one of Germany’s best ever players, Seeler was famous for his overhead kicks and ability to score goals from the unlikeliest of angles. He was also known for his humility and fairness, and respected for his never wavering loyalty to his hometown club, Hamburg.
Seeler, who captained West Germany to the 1966 World Cup final, played for Hamburg from 1952 to 1973, scoring 445 goals in 519 Oberliga and Bundesliga appearances for the team. He is still Hamburg’s record goal-scorer in the Bundesliga — which was formed in 1963 — with 137 goals.
He scored 43 goals in 72 games for West Germany, finishing runner-up to England at the 1966 World Cup and with a third-place medal four years later in Mexico. He was part of the German team for 16 years.
“While I was at four World Cups, I’d have liked to have won the title once. I didn’t have the luck,” Seeler said. “Still, everything was wonderful. I regret nothing.” Seeler was voted German soccer player of the year in 1960, 1964 and 1970.
He received offers from clubs in Spain and Italy, most notably a huge offer from Inter Milan in 1961, but opted to stay with Hamburg. Seeler won the German championship in 1960 and German Cup in 1963 with the club, but also endured heartbreak with near misses in the European Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup. Hamburg lost to Barcelona in the European Cup semifinals in 1961 and to AC Milan in the Cup Winners’ Cup final in 1968.
Seeler has been married to his wife Ilka for more than 60 years. They have three daughters. His grandson, Levin Öztunali, plays for Bundesliga side Mainz. Seeler’s older brother Dieter also played for Hamburg. Their father Erwin worked on a barge in Hamburg’s port and was also known for playing soccer in the city.
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