“As a fan, I would feel confused”

The international match against Turkey had several lows, but also a few positive aspects. A few questions remained unanswered for the audience – and gave national coach Löw several tasks.

Of course I turned on the television on Wednesday evening to watch the German national team play against Turkey. However, I have to admit that the game in my living room was just a casual game. Because the kick didn’t really captivate me despite the six goals.

What bothered me about it? In Cologne, it wasn’t Germany’s best eleven players, but those who were left. That is not what I imagine an international match for the German national team to be.

Photo series with 18 pictures

What should the audience think?

Please do not get it wrong: You can continue to organize such games, but they should then also be clearly declared as a DFB test match. Because an official international match is something different for me. In a real international match, the best players compete against each other. A reserve player of a club has no place in the DFB starting lineup. What should the audience think? As a football fan, I would feel confused looking at the Turkey game. Where were the stars? Where is the unconditional will? What happened to the special flair of an international match?

A game like this used to be something very special for everyone involved. The fans were looking forward to the duels against England, Italy or Spain. For the players – also for the top stars – it was a huge honor to be on the field. And today? The Bayern players stay at home to take it easy. Hello? That should have been said to national players like Franz Beckenbauer or me back then! If our trainer Helmut Schön had wanted to spare us, we would have hit the roof. I would have asked him immediately on the phone if he had anything against me or if he was not satisfied with my performance in the league.

But okay. Football has just changed. And yet I believe that it would be good for us if you played a few fewer international matches and played against top nations in the remaining games – always with the best players available.

DFB players abroad

But it wasn’t all bad against Turkey either. Let’s take a closer look at the squad. It is striking how many players in the German selection are now under contract abroad. Against Turkey alone, there were five players in the DFB starting line-up who do not play in the Bundesliga. Draxler lives in Paris, Waldschmidt in Lisbon, Rüdiger, Leno and Havertz in London. Although two players in this quintet usually only sit on the bench at their clubs, the legionaries of the extended DFB squad will help us in the years to come. Because professionals who are regular players in the English Premier League – for me the strongest league in the world – will also bring their valuable experience abroad to the national team.

I like to remember back. When I became national coach in 1990, many of my national players such as Lothar Matthäus and Jürgen Klinsmann were under contract in Italy, the best league in the world at the time. That was a huge advantage for us. They matured there in terms of football, but above all humanly.

Inter trainer Trapattoni (center) with Matthäus, Brehme and Klinsmann (from left) 1989: The three players formed the framework for what would later become the German World Cup team. (Source: imago images / WEREK)Inter trainer Trapattoni (center) with Matthäus, Brehme and Klinsmann (from left) 1989: The three players formed the framework for what would later become the German World Cup team. (Source: WEREK / imago images)

I watched the exchange between the legionnaires of the national team and the Bundesliga players with great pleasure. Nobody just got up after breakfast and went to their room. The team stayed seated. Everyone listened to the stories from Milan or Rome. Something like that welds a team together – and that’s why I hope that the team of national coach Jogi Löw will also benefit from it in the future.

Götzes move to Eindhoven

Perhaps the most exciting international move for a German has currently little to do with the German national team.

Our 28-year-old World Cup hero Mario Götze will play for PSV Eindhoven in the future. A surprising transfer. And yet I think it will be good for Mario to play in a different league. He’s finally escaping the German culture of envy and the ridicule he was last exposed to in the Bundesliga – because this culture doesn’t exist in Holland.

I wish him that he can find his way back to his old form in Eindhoven and maybe even recommend himself for a return to the national team. Because if I have learned one thing as a national coach, it is that the age of a footballer is not important. It’s all about performance. And when Mario finally plays the way he can, he’ll be an option again for Löw.

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