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Ernst Ocwirk (7 March 1926 – 23 January 1980) was an Austrianmarker football player and coach. He is considered one of the greatest Austrian footballers of all time.

He spent the majority of his playing and coaching years between Austria and Italy, being both player and manager for the clubs FK Austria Vienna and Serie A's UC Sampdoria. He also went on to become a member of the Austria national team, which he led to a third place finish at the 1954 World Cup as its captain.

Nicknamed Clockwork by the British for his midfield consistency, he is often cited as the last of the old-fashioned attacking centre-halves; he was known for his aesthetic and technical style of playing, his heading ability and his passing range. The fans loved him for his modest and fair personality. The international media of the era saw Ocwirk as "the best centerhalf in the world".

Club career

Born in Viennamarker, Ocwirk began his career as a centre-forward. He joined his first club, the local FC Stadlau, in 1938. He then played for Floridsdorfer AC, where he was spotted by former Austrian international Josef Smistik, who moved Ocwirk to centre-half. Smistik tried to bring him to his former team, Rapid Vienna, but it was rivals FK Austria who won the race for his services and, in 1947, signed him.

In a decade at Austria Vienna, Ocwirk became one of the most prominent players for the club, helping them to win five Austrian League championships and three domestic cups.

Brought to Sampdoria by Alberto Ravano, he was the second Austrian footballer ever to play in Serie A after Engelbert König had done it in the 1940s. He also remained the last Austrian in Serie A until 1980, when Herbert Prohaska played for Internazionale. Ocwirk would play five seasons at the Genova club, of which he became the captain. In 1961, he returned to FK Austria to play the final season of his career, winning the "double" in 1961/62.

Ocwirk was chosen in Austria's Team of the Century in 2001.

National team

Ocwirk won 62 caps and scored six goals for his country. He made his debut for his country in 1947 before appearing at the 1948 Olympic Games in London.

By 1953 the stopper centre-back had taken over, so Ocwirk was selected as a wing-half for a Rest-of-the-World team which drew 4-4 with England to celebrate the 90th birthday of the Football Association. His international successes earned him the honour of twice being named captain of the "FIFA World team".

At the 1954 World Cup, Ocwirk captained Austria and played in all five of his team matches, helping it achieve its best ever World Cup finish, third place. The centre-half scored two goals during the tournament: the one that gave Austria the lead after trailing 0-3 in the memorable quarter-final against hosts Switzerland, and the 3-1 in the third place match against reigning champions Uruguay.

Coaching

Immediately after retiring from playing, Ocwirk became a manager, and Sampdoria was the first team he coached, from 1962 to 1965. He also managed Germanmarker side 1. FC Köln one year, taking them to the final of the DFB Cup.

Death and legacy

In January 1980, at the age of 53, he died of multiple sclerosis, in Klein-Pöchlarn, Lower Austria. His death occurred on the same date that Matthias Sindelar died 41 years before.

A friendly tournament was played in July 1981 in homage to Ernst Ocwirk at Wiener Stadion. The participants were FK Austria Wien, SK Rapid Wien, Ferencvárosi TC and Bayern Munich. Bayern Munich won the tournament.

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