Tuesday 19 February 2019, 12:29

Peter the Helmet: A fan with cult status 

  • Peter Dietz is a famous figure at German club Hamburg

  • The 74-year-old is ever-present at training sessions and matches

  • "My wife would say HSV is the most important part of my life"

Temperatures are barely above freezing point. The (in)famous "stiff breeze" as it is known in the north of Germany is sending a light drizzle across the training ground near to the stadium.

The players pull their woolly hats down over their faces and are sporting gloves as they jog over to the pitch, but the stars are happy to make an impromptu stop for a chat with one of their fans: Peter Dietz. The 74-year-old is a legend at Hamburg and has not missed a training session in decades.

"HSV is an important part of my life," he says. "My wife would even say that it’s the most important. I’ve struck up friendships with plenty of stars over the years."

Come rain or shine, super fan Peter turns up to training sessions on his bike, always sporting an HSV helmet. His witty remarks have made the retired car mechanic a veritable cult figure, who even has his own YouTube channel and Facebook fan page as well as making occasional TV appearances.

"My popularity really took off when I appeared on (German entertainment show) TV Total with Stefan Raab," he explains.

But when did "Peter the Helmet", as he is now known not just in Hamburg but all around Germany, first get bitten by the HSV bug? "I was born with it," he says, with father Willi Dietz getting him hooked on the team in black, white and blue in 1960. Back then, the father took the son to Frankfurt’s old Waldstadion to watch the "red shorts" battle it out for top honours against Cologne and see them win their third German league title.

"I was 15 years old at the time so it goes way back. Hamburg won a tight contest 3-2. Charly Dorfel and two from Uwe Seeler were enough to see us home – Seeler’s been my hero ever since."

Things have not always been so rosy in the Hamburg garden however, with the team relegated for the first time in over 50 years of Bundesliga history last year. No other founding member had stayed in the top flight for so long. "I still haven’t come to terms with it. I’d rather not talk about it," he says.

The dyed-in-the-wool "Hamburg lad" prefers to recall fonder memories of times when HSV graced the European stage – and hopes to see them back there at some point.

"The big European Cup matches against Burnley (4-1) and Barcelona (2-1) in 1961 were perhaps the best matches that I ever saw here at the Volkspark. In Athens in 1983 [when HSV won the European Cup final against Juventus], I was there in the stadium. I won’t forget those moments for as long as I live."

Once his chat with FIFA.com was over, "little Pete" was then surrounded by a younger generation of fans looking for a selfie with him and a chat about the state of the current team. Dietz is certainly a cult figure as far as HSV is concerned, and one of those fans that stands out from the crowd...