Rewind: When Uwe Seeler played for Cork Celtic

How many German football legends with over 400 Bundesliga goals, and appearances at four World Cup finals can add playing for an Irish League side to their CV? The answer is just one: Uwe Seeler. Here’s the story of how the Hamburg star came to appear for Cork Celtic six years after retirement.

When ‘Uns Uwe’ Seeler retired in 1972 the one-club man had amassed 476 appearances for his home-town club Hamburger SV and scored 404 goals in the process. He had been voted Germany’s Player of the Year on three occasions as well as finishing as the league’s top scorer in the Bundesliga’s first-ever season In 1963-64. Even at the age of 36 there had been an offer to join Inter in Serie A, but in complete loyalty to HSV he turned them down.

Through German national team coach Helmut Schon, Seeler had procured a job with sportswear firm Adidas as a representative and that is the curious route by which he found himself playing again six years later in the League of Ireland.

In 1978 Seeler was invited (along with former HSV team mate Franz-Josef Hönig) to play for Cork Celtic in a game which the player thought was an exhibition to help raise funds for the financially struggling club. Unbeknownst to him, the clash with Shamrock Rovers was actually a full league fixture, with the rules at the time allowing clubs to bring in guest players.

“It had something to do with my job,” Seeler said when asked years later of his Irish adventure. “The adidas representative in Ireland asked me to do a guest performance. I did not know that in Ireland they were allowed to enrol guest performers, who back then played in normal league games, and so I came.”

His place in the starting XI didn’t help Cork, who lost the match 6-2, but Seeler did roll back the years with two goals in the space of two minutes in the second half – one of which was an absolute cracker. The retiree showed his explosive shooting power with a volley from 18 yards after 57 minutes and then immediately after the restart bagged a second with an acrobatic bicycle kick from the edge of the penalty area.

His brief appearance wasn’t enough to save Cork, who went out of business in 1980, but the memory of his cameo lives on for those there to witness the genius of Uns Uwe. “The genius of Uwe Seeler transcended all else in this Bass League game at Turner’s Cross,” remarked the Cork Examiner in their post-match report at the time.

“Shamrock Rovers played some excellent football, clinched a place in the top four, outplayed Celtic without three of their first team regulars… but Seeler’s two breath-taking goals will live long in the memory when all else has faded.”

The appearance of Seeler might officially end his record of being a one-club man, but he wasn’t aware he was ‘cheating on’ his beloved Rothosen so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

About Mathew Burt 1058 Articles
Former writer at and JustFootball, I've been doing my thing for Bundesliga Fanatic since 2015. A long-suffering Werder Bremen fan and disciple of the Germanic holy trinity...Bier. Wurst und Fußball