Why The Germans Are Successful?
“Soccer is a game for 22 people that run around, play the ball, and one referee who makes a slew of mistakes, and in the end Germany always wins.” …Gary Lineker
The ‘Mannschaft’ (German National Team) with two games to go became the first European National team to qualify for the next prestigious European Championships (equivalent to Africa’s Cup of Nations (AFCON) or the Copa America in South America. Ahead of the all conquering Spain, amongst others. Once again the Germans are successful in achieving another set goal.
In the History of football, Germans are one of the most successful teams in the world .It has won three World Cups (1954, 1974, 1990) three European Championships (1972, 1980, 1996). The Women’s World Cup twice (2003, 2007) thereby becoming till date the only nation that has won both the male and female World Cup. At the club level, they have won several European champions league trophies, Uefa cup trophies, world club cup etc Thanks to Bayern Munich,Borussia Dortmund,Hamburg,Borussia Monchengladbach, Schalke 04 just to name a few . They have one of the most healthy, viable, spectacular, stadium packed, unpredictable and financially stable football league in the World. In fact they are so well off that it is almost unheard of that players get owed wages!
How are they able to do this and more? Can we learn from them? Can they be imitated?
Before the start of each football season, every club must produce months before, to the football federation, Bank guarantees that assures they have enough liquidity to run the coming complete season!
The German league (The Bundesliga) is ‘professionalized’ from the First to the Third division! They have Regional and national youth leagues, regional leagues at all levels (adults to under 9 year olds) all organized with the same intensity and seriousness as if it was the First national division.
The country in general has a playing culture and soccer philosophy that is molded to suit the mentality of its people: Work hard at it, work hard at it and work hard at it till you win! The belief is that at the end, even if you are a little bit less talented than the opponent, you will win, by wearing him out and become the best. How many times have we noticed the Germans coming from way behind to win games? Ask the English and the french in 1982 & 1986 Do remember very well! This philosophy we cannot help but notice in their everyday way of life as well. They are so innovative and hard working that they have the most stable economy in Europe if not the whole world.
The key positions at the national football federation, the football clubs and most football related departments are manned by certified Ex-professional footballers or soccer managers. E.g. Franz Beckenbauer,Uli Hoeness,Karl Heinz Rummennigge,Christian Nerlinger,Mathias Sammer,Oliver Bierhoff,Joachim Lowe, Jurgen klinsmann,Michael Zorc,Uwe Seeler, littbarski ,Felix Magath,Overath,the list goes on.
Failure is rarely tolerated,hence the pressure is ever there to keep performing at a high level.Continuity is very present as evidenced by Loewe taking over from Klinnsmann in 2006 after serving years as his assistant,keeping the technical crew,coupled with a medical crew that has been in place for more than 2 decades now!
Most club sides are coached and managed by relatively young, enterprising coaches who are obliged to hold at all cost, the UEFA Professional coach?s license. This is a requirement from the first till the 3rd division! Each club must have a second team (under 23) and an under 19 team. This is the case way down as to the regional or local town clubs!
Sports Infrastructure and its maintenance are second to none! The pitches at almost all levels, down to the under 9year olds are well maintained. The local governments play a major role in keeping the sporting infrastructures well maintained. The kids are from the early stages encouraged to have a do or die fighting spirit from the onset, and ?laziness? is frowned at.
Some of the most significant ingredients used by the Germans, I feel are their willingness to always want to improve, experiment and improve new methods, stay disciplined to set goals and seek to be pioneers and not followers.
Football is a playing sport, but most of all, a running sport. (Lots of it) and the Germans have long realized this, better than most nations it seems. That is why it is almost unheard of that a German team is not fit. The first thing worked on, and rightfully so too, and on what their playing is based around, is their physical fitness. This I feel is their most important ingredient to success!
Education, in its simplest form, regarding Diet, discipline, health etc is from a very early age made available to all involved.
All through my playing years in this country as a professional, I was always amazed at the continuous importance attached to: what, how and when we ate. The level of vitamins and other performance enhancing, natural minerals we had in our system, personal discipline as regards the number of sleep we had prior and after games, it was so meticulously carried out you could not help but understand why they always had an edge over other nations. This explains why in tournaments, they are very performing.
On a sad note I do feel that the “fun factor” as other more successful nations like Spain,Brazil,Holland etc do have in their playing culture, is lacking in the German way of managing and executing football. The ability to stay relaxed and see the fun part of the game is what helps build creativity in football players. This is why the Germans struggle recently against this particular current Spanish National team and club sides.Their game and philosophy has become predictable to the very technical and creative Spaniards. That said, it must be noted they however only narrowly lost to the Spanish in the 2008 European Championships finals and the 2010 world cup semi-finals in South Africa. Twice 1-0!
It is however arguable to say that they are financially sound and hence very able to do all the above and that is why they are still up there, but there are other rich or even richer nations in the world, passionate about football that are not able to boast of near level of success like the Germans.
One can safely also argue that they are not really that successful lately, having won their last major male tournament in 1996 at the European championships in England. True! but they have been Third in the last two World cups, losing each time to the eventual winners in the semi-finals, Italy in 2006, and recently Spain in south Africa. They lost By 1-0 in the last final to Spain again in the last European championships(2008) in Austria ! Their women have dominated the female football for years, their stadiums are filled up every weekend due to the guaranteed spectacle that the fans in Germany enjoy etc
Furthermore, success does not only mean winning titles, but being on the podium is also success,that’s why the silver and Bronze Medals were invented in sports!
Having played all over the world and been blessed to play Seven years (7yrs) in the German league for Fc Cologne,Borussia Dortmund and Bochum, I can safely confirm to you that when it comes to the work ethic, organization and the winning mentality in football, the Germans are way up there if not the best.
So what can we do to benefit from all what we now know and have assembled to help ourselves? whilst Keeping in mind the fact that not every nation is as “Rich” as the Germans are?
Well for starters if we look through the above information, some basic points stand out glaringly : Organisation, Planning and Discipline. Adding this to any nation’s or teams way of working can only move you in a forward and winning direction. These are adjustments that necessarily do not depend on just wealth to apply. But more of willpower and manpower investment.