Borussia Dortmund are mourning the loss of Dieter "Hoppy" Kurrat, one of the most popular Black & Yellows of all time, who passed away this morning aged 75 following a long battle with illness. "In terms of stature he was the smallest. But for all of us he was the greatest," said a very emotional Dr. Reinhard Rauball upon hearing the news.
Hoppy Kurrat experienced all the highs and lows in his time at Borussia Dortmund, where he played between 1956 and 1974, and came to embody the values of our club like almost no other. He made 612 appearances for the Black & Yellows, winning the Bundesliga in 1963, the DFB Cup in 1965 and the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1966. He remained loyal to the club following relegation from the top flight in 1972. He was an ever-present figure, through the good times and the bad.
"In Hoppy I've lost a good friend. But the memories of the many happy hours we spent together will never fade away," explained Hans-Joachim Watzke, who joined Dr. Reinhard Rauball in wishing Kurrat's family "our deepest sympathies in the name of Borussia Dortmund". "His warm-heartedness and unrivalled wit will never be forgotten by anyone associated with Borussia Dortmund," lauded Rauball. "We're very grateful to Hoppy and we'll remember him with fond memories for ever."
"Hoppy didn't just possess great fighting spirit. He was an incredibly lovely person too," remembered Hans-Joachim Watzke, adding: "It was wonderful to see how modest he remained despite all of the success he achieved." Kurrat continued to serve the club after hanging up his boots as a player, and Dr. Rauball thanked him once again for all his work in the various bodies. "He was a long-term member of the Council of Seniors and the Election Committee up until his death."
The best way to illustrate what Dortmund meant to Hoppy is via a few choice anecdotes from his wife. "He would get homesick as soon as the spires of St. Reinhold's Church disappeared from view," recalled Marga Kurrat some time ago. She also told some incredible stories that brought her late husband's close bond with the city into sharp relief. "We had to cut short holidays in Italy and Texel after a few days because he missed Dortmund so much. He once drove back from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to see the Borsigplatz and the stadium – before driving back to Garmisch again."
Born in Dortmund, the 1.62m-tall right-back began his youth career at FC Merkur in 1949 and stayed until 1956, when Borussia Dortmund brought him to the Borsigplatz. He remained with the club in a playing capacity until 1974, serving as a role model and fulfilling his responsibilities with loyalty, a sense of duty and unbridled passion. Once he hung up his boots, he became player-manager at SV Holzwickede in 1976 and guided the club to the German Amateur Championship.
Kurrat, who made 612 appearances in Black & Yellow in total, featured in the Bundesliga 247 times, scoring nine goals, as well as playing 21 times in both the DFB Cup and European competition. Following the end of his playing career at BVB, he became the first player to be granted a testimonial. Some twenty thousand people cheered him on from the stands at the newly-built Westfalenstadion in 1974 as he was carried off the pitch by his former team-mates.
In 1963, the defender scored the opening goal against 1. FC Köln in the Final of the German Championship. Three years later, he was one of the standout performers as BVB beat Liverpool 2-1 in extra-time. "That summer we were the heroes of Europe," he once said.
Hoppy will now remain a Black & Yellow hero for all eternity. (br/flü/ff)