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The tragic accident of Cologne’s Maurice Banach



Maurice Banach

Maurice Banach was one of the greatest German storm talents in the 90s. He died in an accident when he was only 24 years old.

There is no subjunctive in football. The “What if…” questions do not lead us any further and do not provide definitive answers, but only provide material for discussion and mind games.

In the case of Maurice Banach, one can ask oneself many of these questions, because when the striker’s career at 1. FC Köln was just taking off, it was tragically over. Because Banach died in a car accident on November 17, 1991 at the age of only 24 years.

On an autumn Sunday morning, Banach, known to everyone as “Mucki”, crashed his Opel Omega into a bridge pillar on the A1 near Remscheid on the way to FC training and died immediately. Shortly thereafter, two police officers brought the bad news to Cologne coach Jörg Berger, who then informed the team in the dressing room. “It was terrible. An absolute state of shock,” said the coach.

The team and Berger himself were hard hit by the almost unbelievable event. The upcoming Cologne Bundesliga game against Dresden was cancelled, and there was a minute’s silence for the attacker at the DFB team’s international match in Belgium.

Banach scored regularly for 1. FC Köln

On this autumn morning, German football not only lost a player, but also one who could have been a great one. “He was one of the most promising talents we had in German football at the time,” recalled former FC coach Christoph Daum.

Banach started the 1991/92 season brilliantly: he had already scored ten goals in 18 Bundesliga games – and that at a time when 17 goals were sometimes enough to become the top scorer.

In Cologne they had found another player who was still capable of development and could carry the team. “For years – if Bayern Munich hadn’t come up with a horrendous offer – that would have been an incredible bargaining chip for 1. FC Köln to continue to be involved in the top division,” said Daum. It turned out differently – and after qualifying for the UEFA Cup in the 91/92 season, a 25-year dry spell in the European Cup followed for the Rhinelanders.

Would it have been different for FC with Mucki Banach? Would he have been top scorer in the Bundesliga and maybe even a national player? There are no answers to these questions.