The German football revolution


So far Germany's brilliance in attack has derailed the World Cup campaigns of Australia (4-0), England (4-1) and Argentina (4-0).

Yet just six years ago the national team returned from 2004 European Championship in Portugal without winning a single game.

Jurgen Klinsmann tells the story of how German football was rebuilt from the ground up. Here's an edited version.

I got the chance to decide on the direction we took when I agreed to take over as Germany coach that summer, with current manager Joachim Loew as my assistant.

'Jogi' and I began the whole regeneration process by trying to give our national team an identity.

We decided to go down an attack-minded route, passing the ball on the ground from the back to the front line as quickly as possible using dynamic football.

From that, we created a style of play that this Germany team in South Africa now really lives and breathes.

When Jogi and I took over the German side, we made our plans very public and made it clear that we were trying to rebuild from the bottom up.

The German Football Association (DFB) helped us by putting a lot of pressure on all the first and second division teams in the Bundesliga to build academy programmes and ensure talented young players were coming through.

We held workshops with German coaches and players, asking them to write down on flip charts three things: how they wanted to play, how they wanted to be seen to be playing by the rest of the world and how the German public wanted to see us playing.

We then announced that it was our intention to play a fast-paced game, an attacking game and a proactive game.

Once we had done all that, we created a curriculum for German football.

I brought in a former international team-mate of mine, Dieter Eilts, to run the under-21s and said they had to play the same way as the senior team because they would be a feeder for it.

I was always looking long-term but I knew our plans would be measured by our success at the 2006 World Cup.

I was basically doubted for the two years I was coach - and when we lost 4-1 to Italy in a friendly game three months before the 2006 World Cup, everybody wanted my blood!

We had another game three weeks later against the United States and we won that one 4-1.

That victory saved my job and kept me in charge for the World Cup because the DFB had been ready to make a change. They wanted the conservative approach again, not the revolution.

But I kept on being positive, explaining that this was how I wanted us to play. I did not know if we would master it in time for the 2006 World Cup but we would give it a shot.

We had the players for four solid weeks before the tournament began and were able to get our thoughts across. They agreed to train the way we wanted them to and do extra work. Soon they started to believe in the system.

In the second game, when we beat Poland with a last-minute goal, the whole nation embraced us and said "yeah, that's our team and that's how we want them to play". We lost in the semi-final against Italy but I was still very proud.

After that World Cup, I was burned out after two years of banging my head against a wall but I made it clear to the DFB that Jogi had to take over after me to continue the job we had started.

He has continued to develop that initial style of play and is enjoying success. It has taken Germany six years to learn to play it properly - and it has developed along the way - but the players are completely comfortable with it now.

Germany's style of play might work for England because, in a way, Germany now play a lot like a typical Premier League team, with the emphasis on pacy attacks.

But whatever approach the England team decides on - whether it is attacking or defensive, patient or high tempo - everybody in the English game needs to sign up to it.

After all, it is the players, coaches and clubs who will help to make it work.

Now go back and list the lessons for renewing an organisation or movement and the lessons in growing leaders.

Hopefully Germany will beat Spain later this week and not spoil a good story!

HT: IngitionJournal