The 'Miracle of Bern' is what the West Germans called their victory over huge favorites Hungary in the 1954 World Cup final. Managing to overcome a two goal deficit against an opponent that had beaten them 8-3 earlier in the tournament, does indeed qualify as pretty miraculous. It would almost certainly not have been possible without the leadership of their captain, Fritz Walter, a player most people consider second only to Franz Beckenbauer as best ever German footballer. In an irony of history, Walter may never have lived to play that final but for the aid of an Hungarian guard.
Walter had made his debut for Germany as a nineteen year old back in 1940, scoring three goals in a 9-3 defeat of Romania. In spite of there being a war on, he would go on to earn 24 caps and score 19 goals over the two years that followed. That period came to an end when Walter was drafted into the army in 1943. At the end of the war he found himself in a POW camp in the Ukraine, waiting to be deported to a work camp further east. It is estimated up to one in three German soldiers taken prisoner by the Soviets would never see Germany again.