Jurgen Klinsmann is a legend of German football, as a player. As a coach, his reputation may be more notable for the 3rd place finish in Germany’s own World Cup 8 years ago, and the spectacular flameout at Bayern Munich 3 years later. Now his reputation may have been rehabilitated by his former assistant Joachim Low, as the process Klinsmann largely started finally paid off with this World Cup win. It certainly may not change the view of Klinsmann as Germany’s coach, but his role in this triumph cannot be understated.
5 players from the 2006 World Cup team have winner’s medals in 2014. Schweinsteiger, Klose, Lahm, Mertesacker and Podolski all are earliest members of the German youth regeneration that began after group stage failures in 2000 and 2004 at the Euros. These players became the standard bearers for the future of German football that developed slowly over the years, and as older generations who couldn’t raise the flag fell by the wayside, the new youth came in with elements of old and new and finally put 18 years of demons aside. Someone had to start the regeneration and put faith in the youth, and it was Klinsmann that did it.
Jogi Low had his own pressures to live up to with Germany, especially as they struggled to finally win the big game for the first 3 major tournaments under Low. Germany has evolved too under Low from a more traditional German team, to one with elements of total possession, athleticism, and bits and pieces from many different footballing cultures alluding to Germany’s overall multi-cultural nature in the modern world. But someone did have to start the trend towards the youth, and even as Germany had a strong generation of older talent to call on, Klinsmann made the tough decisions at the start. While he himself didn’t directly reap the rewards, he certainly should be credited for starting the process that evolved to today’s triumph.
This probably will and should not be described as a “moral victory” for Klinsmann, as this was a process that the country and the federation had committed to, and Klinsmann was the face and man to start the process. Everyone who has played a role in the revival and regeneration of German football should get some credit and a small piece of the World Cup won tonight, and Klinsmann deserves an equal share.