Thomas Helmer
Helmer in 2010
Personal information
Date of birth (1965-04-21) 21 April 1965 (age 59)
Place of birth Herford, West Germany
Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Position(s) Centre-back, sweeper
Youth career
0000–1984 SC Bad Salzuflen
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1984–1986 Arminia Bielefeld 39 (5)
1986–1992 Borussia Dortmund 190 (16)
1992–1999 Bayern Munich 191 (24)
1999–2000 Sunderland 2 (0)
1999Hertha BSC (loan) 5 (1)
Total 427 (46)
International career
1990–1998 Germany 68 (5)
Medal record
Men's football
Representing  Germany
UEFA European Championship
Winner 1996 England
Runner-up 1992 Sweden
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Thomas Helmer (born 21 April 1965) is a German former footballer. His preferred playing position was sweeper, but he was primarily deployed as a centre-back.[1]

Helmer spent most of his club career with Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich – appearing in nearly 400 Bundesliga games in 15 seasons – and won the European Championship in 1996.

Club career

Born in Herford, West Germany, Helmer began his professional career with Arminia Bielefeld, playing four games late in 1984–85, in a season that ended in relegation. In the following season, he netted five goals in 35 second division matches, prompting interest from Borussia Dortmund, which signed him in 1986. A key element from the start, Helmer also scored 16 goals during his six-season stint.[2]

In 1992, he joined FC Bayern Munich in controversial circumstances. Dortmund did not wish to sell Helmer, one of its best players, to a rival Bundesliga team, and sent him to France's Olympique Lyonnais instead. However, only three months later, Lyon sold Helmer to Bayern Munich for 7.5 million marks, at the time a record transfer fee paid by the Bavarian club. The resulting furore became so heated that the Germany national side coach Berti Vogts threatened to drop Helmer from the UEFA Euro 92 squad because of the distraction the affair was causing.[1]

Helmer was also an integral part (scoring seven goals in his debut season) and, eventually, captain of an ascendant Bayern Munich team of the late-1990s, winning three league titles, one cup and three League cups), adding the 1995–96 UEFA Cup, where he scored once (against FC Girondins de Bordeaux in the final's first leg) in 12 games. Defensively, the team would also include, during Helmer's stay, internationals Olaf Thon, Lothar Matthäus and Markus Babbel.

Upon leaving Bayern in 1999, Helmer opted to move to the Premier League. He was offered a contract by Liverpool, but chose instead to join newly promoted Sunderland on a free transfer.[3] Sunderland manager Peter Reid hardly used him, however, making just two league appearances against Leeds United and Arsenal[4] and he returned to Germany on loan with Hertha BSC. Although he had appeared in the UEFA Champions League for Hertha, upon his return to Sunderland, Reid judged that "his legs had gone", and the club bought-out his contract,[5] with the player retiring immediately afterwards.

International career

Helmer made his full international debut for Germany on 10 October 1990, a 3–1 win in a friendly match with Sweden in Stockholm.[6] He enjoyed great success in the UEFA European Football Championships, starting in consecutive finals. In 1992, Germany lost surprisingly to Denmark, which had been called at the last hour, but four years later went one better, defeating the Czech Republic in extra-time at Wembley.

Helmer also appeared in two FIFA World Cups, bowing out of international football in the second round clash of the 1998 edition against Mexico, when he was replaced before half-time by Christian Ziege.[7] He was known for tripping Josip Weber during the 1994 world cup in the penalty area but Kurt Röthlisberger, the referee, did not make a call.[8][9]


Helmer during a charity match in 2012

After retiring, Helmer worked as a sports journalist and television presenter with DSF. Additionally, he served as Germany's ambassador to children's charity "FIFA for SOS Children's Villages", first undertaking it in 1997.[10]

Career statistics

Scores and results table. Germany's goal tally first.
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 21 June 1995 Letzigrund, Zürich  Italy 1–0 2–0 Friendly
2. 8 October 1995 Ulrich-Haberland-Stadion, Leverkusen  Moldova 2–0 6–1 Euro 1996 qualifier
3. 11 October 1997 AWD-Arena, Hanover  Albania 1–1 4–3 1998 World Cup qualifier
4. 22 February 1998 King Fahd International Stadium, Riyadh  Saudi Arabia 2–0 3–0 Friendly
5. 5 June 1998 Carl-Benz-Stadion, Mannheim  Luxembourg 3–0 7–0 Friendly


Borussia Dortmund

Bayern Munich



  1. ^ a b Radnedge, Keir The Ultimate Encyclopedia of European Football (1997, Carlton Books) 153–154
  2. ^ Arnhold, Matthias (23 September 2015). "Thomas Helmer – Matches and Goals in Bundesliga". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  3. ^ "Thomas Helmer". Sports Illustrated. 1 November 2001. Retrieved 20 April 2008.
  4. ^ "Sunderland scrap for point". BBC. 14 August 1999. Retrieved 10 September 2012.
  5. ^ "Helmer heads home". BBC Sport. 23 November 2000. Retrieved 20 April 2008.
  6. ^ Arnhold, Matthias (23 September 2015). "Thomas Helmer – International Appearances". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  7. ^ "Germany – Mexico". FIFA. 29 June 1998. Archived from the original on 8 July 2007. Retrieved 20 April 2008.
  8. ^ "WORLD CUP '94: NOTEBOOK; Mistakes Also Cost Referees". The New York Times. 5 July 1994.
  9. ^ "WORLD CUP USA '94 ROUND OF 16 : Germany Clean as a Non-Whistle : Soccer: Voeller scores twice in 3-2 victory, but lack of a call has Belgians crying foul". 3 July 1994.
  10. ^ "Germany: Thomas Helmer". SOS Children's Villages. Retrieved 20 April 2008.
  11. ^ "Deutscher Supercup, 1989, Finale". 16 October 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2020.