A dedicated player and an incredible record

We discussed before about the rare quality of being a one club man. Karl-Heinz Körbel is such a case, because all his career consumed only in Germany, at Eintracht Frankfurt. Born on 1st of December 1954 at Dossenheim, near Heidelberg, the defender played in his native town, until the age of 18, when he moved to Eintracht Frankfurt, a team in a city which wasn’t very far neither from Dossenheim. And what look like, in the first phase, only the next step in his career, it proved in time to be his final ‘station’ in professional football, as Korbel remained as Eintracht’s player from 1972 until 1991! 19 years in which he played only at Frankfurt in 602 league games! First league, because this number is the absolute record of appearances in Bundesliga, with 21 more than second position occupied by Manfred Kaltz, which also played at only one club, Hamburger SV and which also did that in the same period, at which we add one more season: 1971-1991! I can say impressive, a head to head race which ‘Charly’ won in the end.

During this entire period played here, Korbel did won five trophies, from a total of seven that Eintracht has in his history: four German Cups, in 1974, 1975, 1981 and 1988 and a UEFA Cup in 1980. Let’s be fair to say that Frankfurt’s most important achievements came in 1959 when they won their only league title and in 1960, when they had reach the European Cup final, just to lose it, 3-7 (!) against unbeatable Real Madrid. Still, the trophies remain and make Korbel the most successful player from the history of the club and also the one with the most appearances. I know, this is the main subject of the text and I mentioned before that he appeared in 602 league games, but I didn’t say yet that the defender played 118 games in other official competitions for his team. Also, he scored more than 50 goals for Eintracht, from which 45 only in Bundesliga. Still, these achievements didn’t help him to reach the national team too often. In fact, ‘Charly’ wear Gemany’s kit in only six occasions, all of them in 1974 and 1975.

From those 45 Budesliga goals, for Korbel, the most important remains the away one scored at Hannover in 1989, thanks to which his home team avoided relegation directly and played a play-off for keeping its place in Bundesliga. In the end, Frankfurt managed to pass the moment and so the defender could play two more years in the top flight, increasing his record that lasts also in our days. What is also known by few regarding ‘Faithful Charly’ is that he wore, 15 seasons from his career only number 4. It proved that it was the perfect number for him, after in the first years in senior football he played with number 12 and number 6 on his back.

After retirement, Korbel took a break of over three years but after he rejoined his beloved club and occupied for a few months the spot of caretaker and after another season he stood an entire competitive year on the first team’s bench as a first coach. But without luck and so he went on training lower division teams Lubeck and Zwigau. Nowhere more than a season! So, starting 1998, the former defender was fed up in training senior sides so he reoriented to the youth system. And where else could he go, if not at Eintracht’s juniors? Today he’s still there and probably the situation will remain the same for many years.

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