034. Hans Krankl
Austria’s greatest ever player, Hans Krankl helped his country to its first World Cup in twenty years when they qualified in 1978. They managed to reach the second phase having had a tough first round group with Brazil, Spain and Sweden. Krankl showed he could perform at top level and placed himself among the top scorers of the tournament with his four goals. One goal was extra special as it was the winning goal against West Germany which meant Austria had beaten their neighbors for the first time in 37 years!
Krankl’s fine tournament in Argentina plus the fact that he won the Golden Boot as topscorer in Europe for Rapid Vienna, made many top clubs interested in trying to sign him, and it was mighty FC Barcelona that finally got the nod. Hansi was an instant hit and was topscorer of the Spanish league in his first season. Barcelona also won the domestic cup and Cup winner’s Cup that same season.
The glory days did not continue as planned in the Catalan capital and Krankl returned home to the Austrian league already in 1980. Two years later he was once again instrumental as Austria qualified for the World Cup in Spain. Despite being only 29 at the time, Krankl failed to shine and only scored one goal as Austria once again managed to reach the second phase.
He was named Austrian Player of the Year nine times and was topscorer in the domestic league four times. Hans Krankl scored over 300 league goals in over 400 appearances. He retired in 1989 playing for Austria Salzburg.