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German Lessons

In 2000 Germany (World Cup winners 3 times) embarrassingly finished bottom of their qualifying group for the Euros having been beaten 3-0 by Portugal and 1-0 by England courtesy of an Alan Shearer header. The nation watched in abject shock at the paucity of performances from so called big name stars like Ziege and Ballack. A fundamental change was needed.


Ten years on in South Africa their young national team destroyed England's so called golden generation in a display of tactical nous and ruthless German efficiency. This was England's worst defeat in World Cup history.


Unlike our clubs which are dominated at the top level by wealthy entrepreneurs  (no self respecting billionaire should be without the fashion accessory of their own team) 34 of the 36 Bundesliga Clubs are owned in the traditional way by supporters with major decisions being made on 51% majority.


This keeps the game in the hands of the people that matter. To the Germans the fans truly are the life blood of the game. It is cheap to watch compared to here and makes it accessible to all. The club and the sports clubs that feed them are the focal point of the community and the fans have a vested interest in enjoying the success and in letting local talent blossom.


Like us the Germans are proud of their national team's success and excellent young players are coming through. It is no coincidence that German clubs like Schalke and Borussia Dortmund are dominating the Champions League this season.


60% of Bundesliga players are from Germany whereas by comparison only 39% of the Premier League's players are home grown. Youth academies are seen as an extremely sensible way to bring through good young players, financially as well as in terms of football. The 51% rule keeps clubs closer to their roots and to the country too. They want to produce world-class players and they are doing!


The Germans are a clever nation. We play with our hearts but they play with their heads. They understand the workings of a team and the role that one must play in it. The individual is secondary. The national side are referred to as Die Mannschaft (The Team). They know that other sides will be better in terms of skill and technique. However they are also aware that successful football is about achieving the right balance.


The Germans live a generally fitter and healthy lifestyle. They understand the benefit of good quality coaching and think much more about the game in their methodical pragmatic way than we do. We as a nation need to learn these lessons ourselves.


We are one of the greatest nations in the world. If we decide to do something nothing can stop us. It is part of our national character which is the envy (sometimes begrudged) of the rest of the world. It is what defines us.


16 years ago our athletes won 1 gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics. This year our athletes astonished the world by winning 26 at London. I will never forget Jessica Ennis take the last bend in the 800 metres to claim what she had worked for all her life. It was hers. The higher echelons of power decided to change after Atlanta. Football needs to do likewise.

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