Karl-Heinz Schnellinger: German football legend who played for AC Milan and Roma dead at 85

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A German football legend has died at the age of 85.

Former AC Milan and Roma legend Karl-Heinz Schnellinger has died at the age of 85 following a long battle with an unidentified illness on the evening of Monday, May 20.

A feared, physical defender, Schnellinger primarily featured as a left-back over the course of his career, though he was also comfortable in the sweeper role.

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Despite being a German international, winning a total of 47 caps for his country and playing alongside Germany in four World Cups, much of his professional career took place in Italy. Schnellinger joined Roma in 1964, making the jump to AC Milan the following year - he would remain at the San Siro until 1974, having made 222 appearances for the club.

Following Schnellinger’s passing, a statement on UEFA’s official website was posted, which reads: “German football mourns the death of former international Karl-Heinz Schnellinger, who has passed away at the age of 85. He died in Milan, Italy, his home for nearly 50 years after spending the most successful spell of his club career at AC Milan.

“A major success with the German national team eluded him, however. He was a FIFA World Cup finalist in 1966 and scored his only goal for the national team in the 1970 World Cup semi-finals, when Germany lost one of the most memorable matches of all time after extra time against Italy. Schnellinger ended his career at Tennis Borussia Berlin and moved back to Italy immediately after retiring from playing.”

German Football Association president Bernd Neuendorf said: “The name Karl-Heinz Schnellinger will forever be associated with the game of the century at the 1970 World Cup.

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“However, his achievements and merits go far beyond this game. Only Lothar Matthaus has taken part in more World Cup finals than him among German national players. Karl-Heinz Schnellinger was a world-class footballer and one of the first to venture abroad as a professional.”

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