U better believe it, Germany are the kings
“U” is an interesting letter in German. One of the first things that springs to mind is “U-Boot” (submarine) and then there is the “U-Bahn” (underground train) as well as “U-Haft” (jail).
But after Germany’s U21 team won the European championship, thrashing England 4-0 in Sweden on Monday to give the country all three “U” titles (U17, U19 and U21), there’s another “U” word that comes to mind: “Ueber alles” — as in “Deutschland Ueber Alles”.
“U-nglaublich (unbelievable), U-nfassbar (unreal) and U-nwiderstehlich (irresistable),” wrote Germany’s best-selling daily Bild, clearly caught up in the U-fever.
In May, they beat the Netherlands in the final to win the U17 championship it hosted with a national televison audience watching. Last July, Germany won the U19 championship, beating Italy 3-1 in the final. And Monday’s win over England was watched by a record 8.2 million, making it by far the most popular TV show in Germany all week.
The Guardian noted that “Goalkeeping blunders are not the sole preserve of the England senior team”.
But in Germany the U21 team were feted as conquering heroes. Stern.de breathlessly predicted this was the team that would win the 2014 World Cup.
“It was great the way they beat England down at first and then played them into the ground,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew, who was in Sweden for the final.
The German DFB (FA) claimed credit for the three titles, with DFB President Theo Zwanziger saying the “good structures” put into place in recent years and the “good work” done by DFB sporting director Matthias Sammer was the reason for the success.
The Bundesliga also took credit, saying they had trained the players. “What I’m especially pleased with is that all the players are from Bundesliga clubs,” said Bundesliga president Reinhard Rauball.
And the German clubs, predictably, said they were responsible with officials from Hertha Berlin and Mainz arguing their good training, investment and talent development programmes had made the difference.
But the big question U have to ask is: Does it all matter? Does winning any or even all of the “Under-” tournaments mean U will later win the Euros or the World Cup?
PHOTO: German players celebrate celebrating after beating England 4-0 in the U21 European Championship final in Malmo June 29, 2009. REUTERS/Bob Strong