„Das ist der Wahnsinn!“ Béla Réthy, the unmistakable soccer commentator with passion and charisma

19. September 2023 – Katharina Schlangenotto

When soccer commentator legend Béla Réthy opens his mouth and starts talking, millions of Germans recognize him instantly. Born in Vienna, with Hungarian roots, Réthy belongs to soccer Germany like the ball belongs to the goal.

With his unmistakable voice and passionate commentary style, Béla Réthy has won a place in the minds and hearts of soccer fans. He has received numerous awards and honors for his achievements. Fans either liked him or hated him, but he always aroused emotions.

Béla Réthy: “And then comes retirement.”

In December 2022, he hung up his impressive career as a sports journalist and celebrated presenter for the time being at the age of 66. He retired. Not because he wanted to urgently, but because he had reached the age limit at the public broadcasters. “And then comes retirement,” he said in an interview with the German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau about his departure.

In the Sport1 podcast, he commented on his decision to retire from the presenter circus: “I would have liked to continue. My last major events were the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, the Summer Games and the World Cup in Qatar. Now comes the Olympics in Paris, the World Cup in the USA and the Olympics in Brisbane – so the awesome stuff is coming up and I’m retired. That already bothers me!”

The awesome stuff. That’s Béla Rethy as he lives and breathes. He speaks off the cuff, what others don’t even think. Réthy could also pass for a kind of genius, that’s how nimble his mind works. He speaks six languages fluently, including German, his native Hungarian, as well as English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

In order not to get bored in his retirement, he has already chosen a new playground. It’s called the stage.

Career No 2: Being a rousing keynote speaker speaking about team sports, motivation and society

Béla Réthy now shares his (life) experiences with equal passion and humor in rousing speeches at company events, meetings and conferences. They inspire reflection on social issues and revolve around team sports, motivation and team development. His charismatic personality and in-depth experience in team sports make him a sought-after speaker.

Béla Réthy has experienced some special moments during his career.One of the highlights was undoubtedly the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. In this tournament, he commented on the legendary semifinal match between Germany and Brazil, which ended with a spectacular 7:1 victory for Germany. His commentary “Das ist Wahnsinn!”, German for “That’s madness!” will remain unforgotten by many German speaking soccer fans.

The interviewer from the newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau wants to know whether soccer has changed over the course of his career: “Football has become faster and more athletic,” says Béla Réthy.”Just the way we prepare for a game. We used to do a lot of background research and anecdotes. Now you can’t get them down at all. As soon as you look away for two seconds, the decisive scene from the game happens and you’re standing there in a wet shirt. Soccer games have become much faster, much more athletic, but I think soccer has become too scientific. When we look at the games of the century like Germany versus Italy in 1970, the 3:4 after extra time in the World Cup semifinal in Mexico: I still get my hands sweaty with excitement! But if you look at it from a distance today: That was slow-motion soccer!”

“The club comes to you. You don’t come to the club.”

Asked by the Frankfurter Rundschau about his favorite soccer club, he promptly answers, “Eintracht Frankfurt!” Because he thinks: “The club comes to you. You don’t go to the club. As a child, I always made the pilgrimage from the tube station Frankfurt-Sportfeld to the Waldstadion with my father, and later as a teenager. That’s something you don’t want to put down.”

Béla Réthy is far from planning to keep quiet. Because he lives in Wiesbaden, close to Frankfurt, he could now go and watch more games of his club more often. Whether he will have the time to do so is questionable with someone like him.

Béla Réthy

Moderator & Talk guest