Germany’s win in the 2014 World Cup was no accident. The seed for success was planted a long time ago, and is has taken almost two decades to bear fruit. Here’s why they’ve been so successful, and will probably continue to be for years to come.
1) Relaxed terms of German citizenship
After the embarrassment that was EURO 2000, the German Football Association (DFB) along with Germany as whole sought to diversify their football team and their country. Its a known fact that club teams with players from different backgrounds are usually more successful. Germany saw to do this with their national side. At the same time, the German government relaxed their laws surrounding citizenship, just in time for German football’s revolution (coincidence?). While in the past children born to immigrants were given citizenship of their parents country, in the last 2 decades, kids born to immigrants were allowed German citizenship. Look at Podolski, Boateng, Ozil.. to name a few.
2) The development of youth football
The DFB themselves started a nation wide talent development program in 2003. The program seeks to identify talented youngsters and offer training and skills building. The program covers 366 areas within Germany and is open to children aged 8-14. This has created a goal mine for talent. Prior to this, only youngsters affiliated with clubs were recognized, now kids from all corners of the country have the opportunity to be recruited and to be successful.
3) Tighter regulations surrounding club academies
The DFB put in place tighter regulations for clubs academies – in fact all German football teams have to have youth academies. The standards of these academies are controlled strictly – professional coaches are employed and the training grounds & facilities have to be of the highest standards. Failure to comply can lead to a team not being eligible to play domestic football! For example Borussia Dortmund’s grounds were sub standard in the early 2000’s and the team had to build whole new facilities. And we all know how far they have come in recent years.
So, should this template be used as a mould for other countries?
It has taken Germany and the DFB 14 years to reach the goal that they set out back in 2000. A whole generation of class German players have come and gone with nothing to show for (Ballack, Kahn…). This strategy requires patience. Overall, I think countries like England need to take a long hard look at why their domestic league is so successful yet their national side performs poorly time and time again. The game plan needs to be well thought out and major changes need to be made if they want to succeed at a national level.