The Keeper is the incredible true story of a former Nazi soldier and prisoner of war, who became a hero in England. Bert Trautmann, played by David Kross, became a legend at Manchester City in a 15-year career that included a memorable FA Cup Final.
Director Marcus H. Rosenmüller conducted interviews with Trautmann before his death in 2013. Bernhard Carl Trautmann was born in Bremen, Germany on 22nd October 1923. He grew up during the Nazi’s rise to power in Germany. He joined the Hitler Youth at an early age becoming indoctrinated to their beliefs. He enlisted in the Luftwaffe as a radio operator in 1941 but later became a paratrooper and an infantryman with 35th Infantry Division. The British Army captured Trautmann and transferred him to a prisoner of war camp in Essex. While there, authorities downgraded his Nazi status and he moved to Camp 50 in Lancashire.
He rejected an offer of repatriation in 1948, electing to remain in England and even worked on diffusing German bombs in Liverpool. After protests and initial discontent, Bert won over fans and received an OBE for services to Anglo-German relations. He became the first sportsperson in Britain to wear Adidas. His real moment of fame came from his heroic appearance in the 1956 FA Cup final where he played on with a broken neck.
Local legend states that Trautmann was once held prisoner in Elmfield Camp, Gilford, Co. Down and lined up for local teams during his time there.
The production team used many locations in Northern Ireland for filming. In particular, they made use of Irish League football grounds, as they matched the required 1940s and 1950s aesthetic. Filming began in Belfast, Co. Antrim in June 2017.
The Oval, Belfast, Co. Down
Glentoran’s East Belfast Ground, The Oval, provided the backdrop for scenes in Manchester City’s Maine Road stadium. The Belfast Blitz bombings left The Oval’s stands in ruins and the pitch cratered. A memorial at the ground commemorates goalkeeper Thomas Pearson who joined 1st Battalion Irish Guards.
Solitude, Belfast, Co. Antrim
Solitude is the oldest football stadium in Ireland and in the movie it represents Stoke City’s home ground. The first ever penalty kick taken in international football was at Solitude. One end of the ground is The Waterworks Stand. The Belfast Waterworks was one of the primary Luftwaffe targets when they attacked the city in 1941.
Wilgar Park, Belfast, Co. Down
Wilgar Park is the home of Dundela FC. In The Keeper, it doubles as the ground of St. Helen’s Football Club, the first English team to play Bert Trautmann. Dundela Football CLub has played at Wilgar Park in the Strandtown area of East Belfast since 1900.
Belfast City Cemetery, Belfast, Co. Antrim
Belfast City Cemetery on the Falls Road, Belfast, Co. Antrim contains 272 Commonwealth War Graves Commission plots. There are also family memorials to those who served in World War Two and a mass grave containing the bodies of many who died during the Belfast Blitz.
Downhill Beach, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry
During World War Two, the nearby Downhill House housed officers from the Royal Air Force. It fell into disrepair in the following years. There are still several pillboxes and other wartime fortifications in the nearby area.
Murlough Bay, Newcastle, Co. Down
Like Downhill, Murlough Bay was also used by the Royal Air Force during the war. There are still pillboxes and evidence of structures in the surrounding landscape. In 2013, the army carried out a controlled explosion on an unexploded 1940s bomb that washed ashore.
Whitehead Railway Station, Whitehead, Co. Antrim
The scenes in The Keeper take place at the Whitehead Railway Museum. During the Second World War, 8th Railway Construction Company of the Royal Engineers had a base at Whitehead Railway Station. From there, they operated an Armoured Rail Trolley made to look like a cement wagon.
Knutsford Drive, Belfast, Co. Down
Knutsford Drive is a leafy avenue in North Belfast. It is not far from Cliftonville Football Club’s home ground Solitude. The Cliftonville and Old Park areas suffered as Nazi bombs fell on North Belfast in April 1941.
The Northern Ireland premier took place at MovieHouse Cinema, Dublin Road, Belfast, Co. Antrim on 1st April 2019. The movie’s release date was 5th April 2019.