Österreich / Austria
- Capital: Vienna / Wien
- Official Languages: German
- Nicknames: Das Team (The Team); Burschen (The Boys); Unsere Burschen (Our Boys)
- Association: Österreichischer Fußball-Bund (ÖFB)
- FIFA Code: AUT
- Best World Cup Result (Men): Third Place (1954)
- Best World Cup Result (Women): Not Qualified
- Best Euros Result (Men): Group Stage (2008, 2016)
- Best Euros Result (Women): Semi-Finals (2017)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Men): 10th (March – June 2016)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Women): 20th (September 2017, December 2020)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Men): 105th (July 2008)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Women): 48th (July 2003)
- Most Capped Player: Nina Burger – 108 caps
- Top Scorer: Nina Burger – 53 goals
The Bundesrepublik Österreich or the Republic of Austria are considered one of the most historical names with European football. The Austrian team of the 1920s and 1930s were considered Europe’s best team at the time, and entitled the “Wunderteam” title for their sterling performances (becoming the first European side to beat Scotland) and exciting style of play, perfected by the legendary Hugo Meisl. Their style of play would inspire many other nations who would adapt and perfect it, resulting in them having a significant impact on the future of European football.
Despite having reached seven World Cup in their history, the Austrian side have suffered somewhat of a dip since last appearing in the 1998 World Cup, with the club failing to qualify for the past five tournaments. However there is enthusiasm in the air for das Team, as a ‘golden generation’ is progressing through the Austrian youth teams and into the senior team, spurned on by the rise in the fortunes of Austrian club teams in European club competitions. Inspired by the versatile and excellent David Alaba, there are certainly hopes for a potentially ‘Zweite Wunderteam‘ to re-emerge in the next decade or so – the future of Austrian football looks exciting!
To talk about one of the most historic nations in international football who seem to going through a renaissance and improvement, we interviewed the absolutely excellent The Other Bundesliga. Created by three football-mad Austrian-based Brits; Tom Middler, Simon Clark and Lee Wingate, they produce a regular podcast which focuses on everything coming from the Austrian Bundesliga, as well as Austrian clubs’ performances in European competitions, and the fortunes of the Austrian national team. To find their social media accounts, follow the links below:
- Podcast: https://anchor.fm/theotherbundesliga
- Website: https://www.otherbundesliga.com/
- Twitter: @OtherBundesliga
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OtherBundesliga/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/otherbundesliga/
- Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/otherbundesliga
Q. Who would you say is your country’s best player and coach/manager of all-time, and the reasonings behind the choices?
Hans Krankl, Toni Polster and Herbert Prohaska may all ring a bell with older football fans, but we’d argue that Matthias Sindelar is widely regarded as Austria’s greatest. Nicknamed the Paper Man for his slight build, Sindelar was an attacking playmaker who shone as part of the Austrian ‘Wunderteam’ that took the world by storm in the 1930s and won two Mitropa Cups (the forerunner to the European Cup) with his club Austria Vienna too.
Q. Who could be regarded as a ‘cult hero’ in terms of the national team both in the past and present?
In terms of cult heroes, perhaps Hans Krankl would get our vote for that one. He scored 34 goals in 69 goals for the Austrian national team and scored a brace as Austria beat Germany 3-2 in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina – still one of Austria’s greatest and most revered successes to this day. Or perhaps Toni Polster for his clinical finishing and his mullet.
Q. Of the current team, who would you say is the best player in the Austrian national side currently?
Marko Arnautovic is probably one of the better-known players to fans of the English Premier League, but David Alaba is by some distance the best player in the Austrian national team. He can play in a range of positions and has won every trophy there is to win in club football with Bayern Munich: he’s currently a reigning UEFA Champions League winner but could be on the move soon as his contract negotiations have stalled at Die Bayern.
Q. How would you describe the current state/performance of the national team?
Austria have qualified for the upcoming European Championships, so there is that to look forward to. But there is something of a disparity between the result, which have been decent, and the performances, which have been uninspiring at times. Especially when you consider there are so many talented players in the ranks (Christoph Baumgartner, Marcel Sabitzer, Thomas Goiginger and Gernot Trauner to name a few).
Q. Are there any Austrian players who you think we should be focusing on for the future – who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent from the country?
That would be Christoph Baumgartner, an attacking midfielder who has made a name for himself over at TSG Hoffenheim in the German Bundesliga. He has really come into his own in 2020 and has established himself as a regular for the national side in a relatively short space of time. EURO 2021 will probably fall at just the right time for him as EURO 2020, when it was initially scheduled to take place, may have come a bit too soon.
Q. Looking at Austria’s long international history, what would you say has been the best game, result or performance for the national team in your opinion?
There are a few contenders for this one. Of course, there’s the legendary 3-2 victory over Germany at World Cup 1978, which we mentioned in our answer to question 2. Then there was the “Anschlussspiel” between Austria and Germany, the final fixture Austria played before being incorporated into the German Reich in 1938. They won that game 2-0, with Sindelar at his dazzling best. There were lots of high-scoring wins over European powerhouses during the golden era of the 1930s. It’s hard to pick one out.
Q. Likewise, is there a performance or result which is regarded as the team’s lowest point?
Probably at EURO 2016. Having qualified so promisingly with the second-best qualification record of all the finalists (behind only England), Austria proceeded to finish bottom of a group with Hungary, Iceland and Portugal, losing their final game 2-1 to Iceland through a 94th minute goal (Thought you might appreciate the timing of that strike, Clint 😉 [Indeed I do!] )
Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the Austrian national team?
Best things – the current crop of players is really exciting and they are part of some very successful club sides too (Red Bull Salzburg, RB Leipzig, Hoffenheim, LASK, etc.).
Worst thing – perhaps they don’t have the right man for the job as coach. Franco Foda has never really got the team to click. Also, watching Germany’s success including in the 2014 World Cup victory never really goes down that well among Austrians. It’s a bit like how the Welsh, Scots and Irish feel about England – not that England have had that kind of success.
Q. Have the fans adopted some kind of unofficial anthem to sing along to before/during/after matches?
There’s not really a song that all the fans sing for the national team – they don’t have the diverse and entertaining range of chants that British football fans do like ‘Will Grigg’s on Fire’ – but there is the Radetzky March [written by Austrian composer Johann Strauss the Elder], which is played before all of their home games and is accompanied by some frenzied and patriotic flag-waving in the stands.
Q. Do you have a favourite or iconic shirt from the whole time of the national team?
Our presenter Tom says the white home shirt that Austria had at France 1998 stands out for him, whereas Lee is – quite controversially it seems – more a fan of the recent black and turquoise number!
Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of the Austrian national team?
The hope would be that Foda can really get the best of this talented generation of young players and that they can start making an impact at actual tournaments rather than solely during qualification campaigns. And for Austria to qualify for their first World Cup since 1998. Generally, the hope is for the rise in Austrian club football to be felt on the international stage as well.
A massive danke schön to Lee, Simon and Tom of The Other Bundesliga for answering our questions on the Das Team. Remember you can find their excellent accounts in the links at the top of the blogpage.
If you have any comments, suggestions, reactions, or even your own answers to the above questions, please write them in the comments box below. Likewise, you can either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message at @The94thMin on Twitter.