Euro 2000. The Germans with 1 point from three games including a 1-0 defeat to England crash out of the tournament, not having got out of the group stage. The following year in a world cup qualifier : Goran-Errikson’s England thump them 5-1.
Now skip forward 10 years. Thomas Müller, is crowned top scorer at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, at the tender age of 20. This includes a humping of an extremely poor England side in the last 16, 4-1.
Skip forward again to Euro 2012 and Germany (still with a young team) steamroller through opposition : Portugal, Netherlands, Denmark and Greece, (take that Austerity measures!!).
It seems that the fortunes of England and Germany are linked in an opposite fortunes attract, up-and-down sprial. But what changed for German football after Euro 2000?
Germany came out of Euro 2000 with an old team of ‘had seen better days’ from their last major win; Euro 1996. The German Football Association (DFB) called an emergency meeting with representatives of the Bundesliga.
After looking at the academy models of Holland and France, the German Academy system sprang into being with a massive overhaul of grass roots development – 36 of them infact, training the young superstars of tomorrow.
Of a total of 525 players in the Bundesliga last season, 275 (52.4%) had been trained at these academies. On average, around 15 players in the squad of every club had been educated in these academies. 107 (20.4%) of all Bundesliga professionals playing today, play for a club at whose academy they were educated at.
The result of this is a young German squad with the usual strong German organisation of previous years but unlike previous teams, a sheer technical brilliance and precocious confidence.
Unfortunately they went out to the Italian’s in the semi’s oe Euro 2012; so clearly they have a lot to learn, (but England can only dream of a semi finish these days!).
Sweinsteiger, Lahm, Podolsky, Boateng, Ozil, Gotze, Gomez and Close are all world class players who have came through the academy system.
Compare this to England’s poor showing in the 2010 World Cup and only slightly better turnout in Euro 2012. The last generation of Superstars : Beckham, Gerrard and Scholes et all, have all moved on and retired.
Whilst a new crop of promising players such as Lescott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Young and Carroll will make their mark in years to come. Its painful watching an England team with no flair, no clue and no confidence on how to pass and move the ball around the pitch – the very basic elements of the game.
We could take a good long hard look at the German academy system and learn how to harnass and develop a generation of new top class players properly. It won’t be a quick fix but it will be worth it now to sow the seeds. Then we would all have an England team we could be proud of.
It’s over 20 years ago since Bobby Robson’s England nearly went all of the way in the 1990 World Cup, with arguably the best team since 1966. Only to lose again on pens to the German’s (again) – but the current England team aren’t even fit to lick Lineaker, Gascoigne and co’s boots.