Klaus Täuber (right) with his former Schalke teammate Bernard Dietz
Photo: imago sportfotodienst / imago/Sportfoto Rudel
There is the story with the association. In a match of his FC Schalke 04 against VfB Stuttgart, Täuber was injured again, he was bandaged "from the navel to the tips of his toes", but that was no reason for him not to play. The bandage was so tightly laced that it cut off the blood supply to the footballer, "it was hellish pain". Täuber nevertheless scored two goals, Schalke won 4-3.
Klaus Täuber has scored a lot of goals. 49 for Stuttgarter Kickers, 58 in his four years for FC Schalke alone, giving him the best goal rate at Schalke after Klaus Fischer and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
Right into the hearts of the fans
But there have been many goalscorers in the long history of the Bundesliga. In order to make it right into the hearts of football fans, something else has to be added. Klaus Täuber had that.
He was called the Boxer. And it wasn't just because his birthday was the same day as Muhammad Ali. Täuber was someone for whom football meant above all: fight, use until it doesn't work anymore, and if the body didn't cooperate, it was made to fit.
Täuber broke his jaw, his tibia twice, his fibula, his thumb and his ankle. Three times he was on the operating table because of meniscus problems. There was a season at Schalke when he played for months with a broken toe, before every game there was an anesthetic injection from the team doctor. At some point, the skin was so thick that the tip could only be rammed into it. All the same. Täuber persevered. Later he was supposed to pay a price for it, but at some point his body stopped cooperating with it.
The native of Erlangen was himself, but he was also others. He was just the boxer. In the eighties, the magazine "Stern" voted him the "biggest knocker in the league" – as a striker. And this in a league in which such robbers as Eisen-Dieter Schlindwein, Uli Borowka or the Förster brothers from Stuttgart practiced their rustic craft.
When the young Olaf Thon spied the ball away from Täuber during his first training session at Schalke, it set a baking whistle as revenge. It was so violent that Thon thought that "he tore off half my ear".
A slap in the face for Olaf Thon
"That was the eighties in football," Thon later shrugged off in the "Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung". Different times, different customs.
The circumstances were clarified after this training incident, from then on Täuber and Thon were the closest buddies. Täuber once called himself "Thon's Pitbull", he made sure that the technician didn't get a hair on the pitch.
Täuber went to the opposing defenders right at the beginning and warned them not to tackle the thon too hard. Otherwise, they would have to deal with him. Nobody wanted that.
Loved at Schalke
It's guys like him who make it to the crowd favorite in football. Guys where every fan in the stands feels that someone is leaving their soul on the football field – and doesn't know any relatives. Such players have always been loved by the crowd, and perhaps even more so at Schalke than anywhere else.
Täuber joined FC Schalke in 1983, and the story of his move says a lot about him. He had given Schalke his word early on that he would move from Stuttgarter Kickers to the Royal Blues – but had no idea that Schalke would be relegated from the Bundesliga at the end of the season.
As a result, Eintracht Frankfurt got in touch, lured the then 25-year-old not only with first division football, but also with a house and with the fact that Täuber's girlfriend could work in her dream job as a stewardess. But Täuber had watched the relegation final of Schalke in the relegation, he had seen the fans howl. It was clear to him that he couldn't leave these fans hanging.
So he went to the 2nd division with Schalke and shot the club back into the Bundesliga with his goals.
European Cup winner with Bayer
When he was sold to Bayer Leverkusen after four years because the Gelsenkirchen team urgently needed the money from transfer proceeds, Täuber himself cried. And in 2014, in a nice interview with the football magazine »11 Freunde«, he said: »If you become a professional and can only play for one club, then you don't have to play in Barcelona, not in Munich, not in Dortmund. But at Schalke.«
He was only able to play properly for one year at Bayer, but that was tough. He won the Uefa Cup in 1988 with Leverkusen. He wouldn't have been able to play in the second leg of the final against Espanyol Barcelona, he was of course injured again, a torn muscle this time. But coach Erich Ribbeck needed his striker, Bayer had to make up a three-goal deficit from the first leg.
So he substituted him after 70 minutes. With the first touch of the ball, he hit the cross, which Falko Götz converted to make it 2-0.
In the end, the decision was made in a penalty shoot-out, with Klaus Täuber converting the last and most important penalty for Bayer. "Immediately afterwards, someone put a bottle of champagne in my hand. When Rolf Töpperwien wanted to interview me, three-quarters of them had already been intus.« It was the eighties in football.
A year later, the body had too much. He put away all the fractures, but the intervertebral disc gave Klaus Täuber's career the rest. At the age of 30, he had to give up competitive sports. After that, he tried his hand as a coach with less success at Schwarz-Weiß Essen and Westfalia Herne, among others. The Ruhr area did not let go of the Franconian robber, he lived in Gelsenkirchen until the end.
Klaus Täuber died on Saturday at the age of 65. The boxer left the ring forever.