Matthias Sindelar, ‘The Mozart of Football’ or ‘The Paper Dancer’, was the playmaker and goalscorer at the heart of the legendary Austrian Wunderteam of the 1930s. Skilful and creative, Sindelar scored 27 goals in 44 games for the national side, including 13 goals in just 12 UFWC games.
Of Czech descent, Sindelar was born in Kozlov, then within the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, in 1903. He played all of his club career at Austria Vienna, from 1924 until his premature death in 1939.
Sindelar made his international debut for Austria in September 1926, ironically against Czechoslovakia. He soon became an integral part of Hugo Meisl’s Wunderteam, making 42 appearances for his country and scoring 27 goals. However, his career and life were cut tragically short.
When Nazi Germany took control of Austria in 1938, Sindelar refused to play for the newly-formed combined Austria/Germany side.
A few months later, in January 1939, he was found dead in his home alongside his girlfriend. Official records said the pair had died from carbon monoxide poisoning, but friends said this was written up to ensure a state funeral, which murder victims were not entitled to.
Despite the pressures of war, 20,000 people turned out for his funeral. Sindelar is still regarded as Austria’s greatest ever footballer, and should perhaps be regarded as the greatest footballer ever to grace the UFWC.
Matthias Sindelar, UFWC career 1931-32, 12 games, 13 goals.