reunion with former international football referee Robert Wurtz, 80 years old and still “a little crazy”

Run um. Robert Wurtz lives a peaceful retirement in northern Alsace, far from the limelight. But the former football referee, considered one of the best of his generation, has lost none of the erratic nature that characterized audiences around the world.

Visiting Robert Wurtz means diving into a universe. The octogenarian – who celebrated his 80th birthday on December 16, 2021 – made an appointment at his home, in Climbach, in the north of Bas-Rhin. He welcomes us in his street, barefoot. The tone is set. Free will, always.

For the symbol, he will put on his crampons for a few minutes. History appears with the perfect arsenal of a “man in black”: football boots, but also shorts and jerseys, yellow and red cards, whistle. Very happy to show that he still easily fits into his outfit. But it is with his feet in the air that Robert Wurtz now prefers to walk around.

With the forest as a playground. Omnipresent in her village in the northern Vosges. He likes to walk there, bathe his legs in the water of a so-called miraculous fountain – “a Würtz treatment”he jokes. A framework that he has hardly left for 15 years.

“I appreciate the tranquility, the clean air. I have everything I need here. My goal used to be – through football – to travel as far as possible. But what I’ve seen enough. I want my last days or rather my last year here. It’s better for my nerves. Even though I remain interested in what’s happening in the world”ensures that the dgraduated with a doctorate from chemical physics in macromolecular biology

He still follows football, with a particular soft spot for the Sportschau program devoted to the Bundesliga on German television – “it is very well done, with short summaries, just what is needed”† Racing Club de Strasbourg will of course remain his favorite club. How could it be otherwise? Robert Wurtz grew up a few meters from the Meinau stadium. As a child, he even wore the colors of the club. “Gilbert Gress, my team-mate, always yelled ‘Robert, look up’ at me. I wasn’t as good as the others, but I wanted to stay on the pitch, so I became a referee.”

One of the best in the world. His name includes a World Cup (in 1978 in Argentina), two European Championships (in 1976 and 1980) and a Champions League final (in 1977 the competition was then called the European Club Cup Champion). The privilege of collaborating with exceptional players, Johan Cruijff or Michel Platini to name a few.

But if no one has forgotten Robert Wurtz, is because on the football field the referee played the performer. Like during a PSG Auxerre, in 1989, where he knelt in front of Guy Roux to beg the coach to calm down. The image is remembered.

Or during a very exciting play-off game of the Mexican Championship, in 1971: “There were incidents. I wondered how I could last the match to the end. So I pretended that a rock sent by a spectator had hit me and I collapsed. We thought I was dead. I heard the announcer said if the stone throwing didn’t stop, the game would be stopped. People were scared and I was able to finish the game. Proof that sometimes a theatrical attitude can help.”

A natural way of being and doing for this son of a musician and chorister of the Strasbourg Municipal Theatre, which became the Opéra national du Rhin. The “Nijinsky of Football” Would Take His Antics From His Mother – “She did theater every day in her life, she passed on her genes to me”

Wherever Robert Wurtz went, the spectators begged for more. What to encourage him to continue: “Even today I want my interlocutor to have a good time after talking to me. Otherwise I was uselesshe confides, quite at ease with the image of a man “a little bit crazy” that sticks to his skin. Coming out of the box is good. Others look at you, this encourages you to keep going. It’s a game. A touch of madness won’t hurt.”

It was this extravagance that led the Intervilles team to recruit him. A new role of referee, in the middle of the cows, which he endorsed until a stroke in 2007.

The lad from La Meinau toured France and the world. Another stroke of genius from this Alsatian who never had the driver’s license (he failed the exam twice). His new challenge: turning a hundred years old. He also works his head for this, using sudoku grids and crosswords, which are lying in front of his garage door. Bare feet and torsos, even in winter. “It’s an originallaughs his wife Hélène. That’s how you should take it”† Even at 80 years old, Robert Wurtz continues to whistle his life, in his own way.

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