LUZERN: Timo Konietzka, the German international striker who scored the first goal in Bundesliga history, has died in a Swiss clinic – having undertaken assisted suicide in the final stages of long struggle with cancer writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Konietzka, who played nine times in attack for West Germany in the early 1960s, made history on August 24, 1963, when he scored a goal for Borussia Dortmund in Bremen’s Weser stadium in the first minute of the first round of matches of the newly-formed unified league.

Until then the German [then West German] championship had been orgnised on a regional basis with the top teams competing in an end-of-season play-off tournament.

Later, after transferring to TSV 1860 Munich, Konietzka scored after only 58 seconds the first goal in the first Munich Bundesliga derby against Bayern. At the end of that 1965-66 season TSV 1860 and Konietzka were crowned champions.

Konietzka had wound down his playing career in Switzerland. He took Swiss citizenship in 1988 and died on Monday evening this week at a clinic run by the Swiss euthanasia organization Exit near Lake Lucerne.

Former 1860 team-mate Bernd Patzke said: “Such a shock. He was always the fittest of us all, always funny, a real boy from the Ruhr.”

Born on August 2, 1938 in Luenen, Konietzka’s real first name was Friedhelm but not even his team-mates knew that. From the outset of his playing career as a teenager he had been nicknamed because of an apparent resemblence and crewcut hairstyle to Soviet Marshal Timoshenko.

Master coach Max Merkel ‘discovered’ Konietzka and signed him from VfB 08 Lünen for Dortmund, rescuing him out of mining work in the pits. He and Jurgen Schutz formed one of the most devastating strike partnerships in 1950s German football in the original Oberliga West.

Konietzka was a German champion with Dortmund and then again with 1860 after, at 27, following Merkel south to Bavaria. In 100 league games he scored 72 goals – a ratio of 0.72 surpassed in German domestic football history only by Gerd Müller.

In 1967 he moved to FC Winterthur and later coached FC Zurich, Young Boys Bern, Grasshopper, Hessen Kassel, Bayer Urdingen, Borussia Dortmund and FC Luzern. He steered FC Zurich to three successive Swiss league titles in the mid-1970s and to the semi-finals of the European Champions Cup in 1977.

No TV or still film remains of the historic first Bundesliga goal. As Konietzka, asked the reason, recalled: “We were playing away so all photographers were standing behind our goal.”

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