Between pain & pleasure

In an ideal world, Romy Schneider would have lived happily at a picturesque estate on the remote French countryside, surrounded by her kids and a caring husband. But the Austrian actress died at the age of just 43.

With “Der Fall Romy Schneider. Eine Biographie”, Michael Jürgs managed to capture the many contradictions of Schneider’s personality with delightful precision. Schneider soon broke from the overly tight but also cold family environment to start anew in Paris. Having grown up in a Bavarian boarding school as her parents – celebrated actors themselves – were just too busy looking after her, Schneider reached the pinnacle of fame early with the infamous Sissi trilogy. However, the movie starlet was determined to make it on her own in France – where she delivered brilliant performances in films such as “La Piscine” (The Swimming Pool) and “Le Vieux Fusil”.

Her decision to relocate spurred the anger of German tabloids and glossy magazines. An unprecedented series of heinous attacks was launched at the actress whose strength faded as the feud with husband Harry Meyen intensified.

Written in 1991, this paperback edition of “Der Fall Romy Schneider” portrays a fragile and vulnerable woman who had always presented herself as extremely self-confident. Jürgs’ decision to introduce the fictional character of journalist Anna Wendtlin might confuse and alienate some readers. His book is a touching and endearing read nevertheless.

“Der Fall Romy Schneider” is an authentic portrait of an outstanding actress and her troublesome life shaped by early stardom, devastating disputes with the press and tax authorities, blighted hopes for eternal love, the horrific death of her teenage son, and a deepening to pills and booze which led to her death in May 1982.

Der Fall Romy Schneider. Eine Biographie
By Michael Jürgs
Published by Ullstein (

Müller & Mercury

Sascha Theisen is the mastermind of “Torwort”, a popular soccer-themed series of readings. Now the author of acclaimed publications such as “Helden. Deutsche WM-Legenden von Bern bis Rio” and “Heldentaten. Die größten deutschen WM-Spiele” collected and reedited some of his funniest texts.

“Ballbesitz” discloses how Dieter Müller – formerly a phenomenal, predatory Bundesliga striker – once humiliated a young boy. Theisen, an ambitious youth team coach, writes about feeling like Pep Guardiola as he analysed match strategies to come up with sophisticated tactics utterly unsuitable for his side.

In “Ballbesitz”, Theisen also reflects on a truly hilarious night club encounter with Mario Krohm, an average player venerated like a godlike revelation by the author and his mates.

Furthermore Theisen is paying tribute to Ursus the Invincible and explains the mysterious connection between Freddie Mercury, Eddie Vedder and Karl-Heinz Feldkamp before lashing out at the capitalism and arrogance of RB Leipzig and television corporation ARD over its “WM Show”, an embarrassing primetime broadcast screened in 2006.

Ballbesitz. Warum Fußballfans sich besser im Leben zurechtfinden
By Sascha Theisen
Published by Verlag Die Werkstatt (

Inferior integration

All of Hamed Abdel-Samad’s releases have caused controversy throughout the years – and the same will certainly apply for “Integration. Ein Protokoll des Scheiterns”. The title already suggests the Cairo-born author’s point of view on sociological developments in Germany.

The former Muslim Brotherhood member – whose knowledge on radical Islam is unmatched – once more appeals on authorities to tackle fundamental elements more forcefully. Reflecting on his own life, Abdel-Samad deplores having been regarded as a foreigner despite his passion for classical music and hiking. The writer underlines that his quick progress in learning German did not change the way many people have seen him either.

“Integration. Ein Protokoll des Scheiterns” examines the harsh contrast between the peaceful decline of communism in East Germany and arson at buildings inhabited by refugees and asylum seekers. Abdel-Samad’s previous books focused on the political revolution in the Arab region, fascist tendencies in Islam and the perception of prophet Mohamed. Now he warns from the consequences of malfunctioning integration but also looks back on how he left Germany for Japan, aiming to get as far away from Central Europe as possible.

The Droemer Knaur publication also tells from the inner struggles of kids whose parents or grandparents were not born in Germany. While the first generation of migrants got ignored, their descendants struggle to find a balance between their religious identity and professional success in a globalised world.

Abdel-Samad cannot, and does not want to, provide a panacea for everything which has been going wrong on Germany’s multi-confessional battleground. But “Integration. Ein Protokoll des Scheiterns” ensures that worrying aspects – from radical teenagers to anti-Semitism among Muslims and an increasingly islamophobic atmosphere – are not being ignored.

Integration. Ein Protokoll des Scheiterns
By Hamed Abdel-Samad
Published by Droemer Knaur (

Battle of the Brands

“Drei Streifen gegen Puma” is a book about tireless efforts, innovation, pioneering spirit and elaborate concepts. Adolf Dassler’s Adidas has developed into one of the leading brands in the world while his brother Rudolf’s Puma is not far off.

Business journalist Barbara Smit has sifted through archives but also conducted a string of exclusive interviews to create a compelling update of her acclaimed 2005 release. Smit’s 400-page tome is an insightful examination of how Adidas and Puma managed to remain strong despite various throwbacks and controversies. The author discloses the firms’ strategies – from soccer stars’ off the field values to their tactics against US giant Nike and up and coming competitors like Under Armour.

Especially Adidas did an excellent job as far as football world cups are concerned but the constellation keeps getting increasingly difficult as sports enterprises must prioritise – or please everyone, from Real Madrid supporters to professional track and field athletes, fans of sporty fashion and those looking for the best jogging equipment.

Drei Streifen gegen Puma
By Barbara Smit
Published by Riva (

Alar returns as Rapid host HSV

Tomorrow’s Allianz Stadion friendly will see two teams in transition.

After having met top-notch clubs such as Chelsea, PSG and Schalke 04 in recent years’ summer breaks, Rapid face relegated German Bundesliga founding member Hamburger SV on their Viennese home turf at 7pm.

Things are looking reasonably promising for Rapid after a string of painful news for supporters. Louis Schaub, Mario Pavelic and Lucas Galvao all jumped ship. So Rapid bosses signed Christoph Knasmüllner from Barnsley FC and Sturm Graz full-back Marvin Potzmann before causing a jaw-dropping moment among fans and pundits.

Last season, Deni Alar scored 20 goals in the league for vice champions Sturm. The striker, who was at Rapid between 2011 and 2016, was one of the driving forces behind Sturm’s ÖFB Cup triumph. But last week the 28-year-old decided to return to the capital.

Rapid transferred 600,000 Euros to Sturm for Alar, according to reports, after having raked in nearly three million Euros from FC Ingolstadt for Galvao, a truly brilliant defender. “I’m thrilled about the fact that the league’s best Austrian striker is part of our squad now,” Rapid coach Goran Djuricin announced.

Rapid just returned from preparing for the new season in Upper Austria where they played against Slavia Prague (0-2) and KS Samara (1-0).

HSV bosses have restructured the squad and several outstanding members like Kyriakos Papadopoulos and the former Champions League contenders’ one-man gossip factory Jann-Fiete Arp are expected to leave shortly. However, former Werder Bremen striker Aaron Hunt and ex-Schalke midfielder Lewis Holtby decided to stay, aiming at sending the club back into top-flight football in the upcoming season.



From Sindelar to Solskjaer

Whenever there is some league anniversary or a big tournament coming up, you know it is about the time for some nostalgic football books – some good, some not so good. “90 oder Die ganze Geschichte des Fußballs in neunzig Spielen” is an ambitious attempt to cover any relevant events in this competition since this famous gathering of a bunch of gentlemen in a London pub.

With several memorable 1970s matches and sensational occasions such as North Korea’s 1-0 win against Italy, Christian Eichler strongly focuses on the World Cup. However the author also retells how repressive regimes in the Soviet Union and Argentine abused the fascination of sports.

Eichler reveals how 1,600 guns were confiscated ahead of a World Cup final after the referee decided to strengthen security measures. Another remarkable anecdote retells how Schalke legends Ernst Kuzorra and Fritz Szepan almost joined a Viennese side to make some money.

The thrilling battle against relegation from the German Bundesliga on decision day in May 1999 and the Champions League final of the same season – when Manchester United powered back in added time to win 2-1 against Bayern Munich – are obviously included. But the author also made some unexpected choices. He describes the 1993 Houllier-Ginola controversy and matches at the WWI frontline during the famous Christmas Truce of 1914.

On 480 pages, football enthusiasts will find much to admire. In several match reports, Eichler pays tribute to ingenious Brazilian players like Garrincha and Pele. However, his description of what will live as one of Austrian football’s worst performances is brilliant too. But reading a few chapters in a row can also be quite tiring. The concept is anything but new – a bunch of similar publications have entered the shelves in recent years, most notably Die 100 besten Spiele aller Zeiten by Tim Jürgens and Philipp Köster.

“90 oder Die ganze Geschichte des Fußballs in neunzig Spielen” is nevertheless an excellent opportunity to rediscover outstanding moments in soccer history such as Jürgen Sparwasser’s goal against Germany in 1974 and England’s humiliating defeat against the United States in 1950s. The goal scorer migrated to the US from Haiti – and Eichler knows his tragic story.

90 oder Die ganze Geschichte des Fußballs in neunzig Spielen
By Christian Eichler
Published by Droemer (