Austrian Willy Meisl was a versatile sportsman, who competed successfully in tennis, boxing, swimming and water polo with the Austrian national team. He later became a sports journalist. Meissl played in goal after World War I with the Vienna Amateurs football team. His brother Hugo, manager of the Austrian national team, appointed him to the team in 1920 for the match against Hungary, his only international. Willy Meisl also worked as a football coach for the Swedish club Hammarby IF from 1923-25.
After completing his law studies Meisl started a career in sports journalism. From 1924-33 he was employed by the Berlin Vossische Newspaper and wrote numerous sports books. When he reported from the 1924 Paris Olympics, he coined the term “Heat Battle of Colombes” to describe the cross-country race, where temperatures reached over 40° C. (104° F.), turning the event into a survival test. He soon became known as "king of sports journalists" and "father of modern sports journalism" in Germany. After Fascism rose in Germany, Meisl, as a Jew, was forced to immigrate to England in January 1934, where he continued to work as a sports journalist. During World War II he served in the British Army, and after the war worked again as a journalist in England, Switzerland and Germany.