Odd Frantzen: Forgotten hero of the Bronze Team

Jun 5, 2020

Life Stories

Odd Frantzen

Beginnings

Odd Frantzen was born in Bergen in 1913. He grew up there to be a dockworker on Bergen’s waterfront and a talented part-time footballer, a fast right winger for SK Hardy, a team from Bergen’s tough working-class district, Nygard.

The Bronze Team Heroes

In 1936 Odd Frantzen played his first game for Norway. It was a special occasion; it took place in Berlin in front of 25.000 people, Norway against Germany. As far as is known, this was the first and only time Adolf Hitler attended a football match in person – attracted by the propaganda value of a German victory. But there was a sensational shock result; Norway won 2-0. Germany was eliminated from the tournament. Norway went on to win the Olympic bronze medal.

Legacy

The life stories of many footballers end sadly. Odd Frantzen played 20 times for Norway, including the 1938 World Cup in France, but it was the 1936 Olympics he was remembered for. In 1961, he had to have a leg amputated after a work accident. He could no longer work and this led to drink and depression. His wife, Betty, left him. In 1977, living alone, Odd Franzen was kicked to death by a young couple who broke into his home looking for booze to steal.

Thinking points

Odd Frantzen was a working-class boy from Bergen who played for an unfashionable team. He liked to drink and was a smoker, but was a surprise choice to play for Norway in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Odd Frantzen’s life was defined by Norway’s stunning success against Germany, with Adolf Hitler among the 25.000 spectators. Yet Frantzen had a tragic end, killed by a young couple invading his home to steal alcohol.

Educators could look at the life story of Odd Frantzen and work with young people to consider this question:

  1. Why have so many Footballers found it difficult to live fulfilling lives after they stop playing?

Find out more

Find out more about the story of the match Norway vs Germany here. John Olav Nilsen, a Norwegian singer song-writer wrote a story about Odd Frantzen called Olympia.

COVER Image

Árpád Weisz (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Norway team at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Odd Frantzen is second from the right, back row (Photo: Wikimedia Commons).

Life Story

Odd Frantzen was a working-class boy from Bergen and the forgotten hero of the bronze team who beat the Nazi's. His story is one about identity and education.

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Article Tags:   identity  |   social history  |   well-being  |   World War 2

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