Rahn's World Cup career got off to an inauspicious start in West Germany's 8-3 defeat by Hungary at the 1954 finals in Switzerland.
Yet within days he was a world champion and the hero of the stunning 3-2 win over the mighty Hungarians.
Rahn's cunning wing play was the creative focus of a West German side whose principal virtues were hard work and resilience. After losing so spectacularly, West Germany rebuilt its campaign with impressive wins over Turkey, Yugoslavia and Austria to set up a rematch with Hungary that few thought Rahn and his teammates could win.
Predictably, the West Germans were two goals down after just eight minutes. But Max Morlock immediately hit back and on 18 minutes Rahn capitalized on a goalkeeping error to bring the scores level. For the rest of the match West Germany resiliently blocked the Hungarians' attacks, and with six minutes left Rahn picked up a loose clearance on the edge of the box and crashed the ball home for a famous victory.
Rahn's life went off the rails in the years after the World Cup and he spent a spell in prison for a drink-driving offense.
Despite the conviction he was picked for the 1958 finals and repaid the faith that had earned his recall with goals. He scored twice in a 3-1 win over Argentina and was also on target against Czechoslovakia, Northern Ireland and Yugoslavia before West Germany's 2-1 defeat by host Sweden in the semifinals.