Film review: The Keeper

David Gritten / 27 February 2019

The extraordinary tale of the German PoW who rose to fame as a goal keeper in post-war Britain.

It’s astonishing that it’s taken this long for a film to be made about the remarkable life of German-born Bert Trautmann. A paratrooper for the Luftwaffe in World War II, he won an Iron Cross for bravery before being captured and sent to a POW camp in Lancashire, where he played football with fellow prisoners. His goalkeeping skills were obvious, and he signed for non-league St. Helens Town before hitting the big time post-war with Manchester City.

Being German, he initially received a hostile reception from many City fans, but his skill and modest demeanour won them round. Over 15 years, Bert played more than 500 games for City, helping them win the 1956 FA Cup, heroically playing the last quarter-hour despite a broken neck.

Read our archive interview with Bert Trautmann

The Keeper gives a decent account of his remarkable story, charting his rise in the football world but also tracking his personal development as a husband and father. Bert’s football triumphs contrasted sharply with a private life marked by tragedy.

German actor David Kross, superb as the heroic, brilliantly gifted Trautmann, is supported by a strong, experienced British cast. You don’t need to be a football fan to find this film engrossing.

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