Joachim Löw has been the Germany coach since July 12th 2006. He is the DFB Team’s tenth head coach. Together, Germany’s coaches have turned the history of the national team into a successful one. There has been little fluctuation but plenty of titles. Germany have won the World Cup three times and the European Championship three times – in total, Germany’s coaches have led their nation to 13 finals in major tournaments. All of them have celebrated success and left their mark.
The Germany national team played their first international fixture in 1908. But it took almost two decades, until 1927, before an individual head coach was appointed: Otto Nerz, an educator and doctor of medicine. Discipline and organisation were of the highest priority under the former VfR Mannheim winger. He ran a tight ship and guided Germany to considerable success. The DFB Team secured a surprise third-place finish under Nerz at the 1934 World Cup in Italy.
Four years later, another former Mannheim player came in alongside Nerz in the form of Sepp Herberger. Initially, he was “only” responsible for training, but he was handed the role of head coach in 1938. Germany may have been knocked out by Switzerland in the first round of the World Cup in France, but after the Second World War, Herberger became the pioneer of the “Miracle of Bern”. He deployed cunning tactics and expert psychology and understood that each individual player had to be dealt with in the right way. After the infamous 3-2 win over Hungary in the final of the World Cup in Switzerland on July 4th 1954, Herberger became known as the “Weisen von der Bergstraße” (Philosopher from Bergstraße).
To this day, that triumph of the century in Bern outshines the less glory-filled decade that followed the World Cup win in 1954. It wasn’t until Helmut Schön took charge in November 1964 that the success returned. Schön profited from the fact that the framework of Germany football had improved after the introduction of the Bundesliga. The national team experienced their heyday between 1966 and 1976 under Schön. The head coach could call on players like Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Müller, as well as Italian league players such as Helmut Haller and Karl-Heinz Schnellinger. It was a “golden decade” under Schön, which included the highlights of reaching two World Cup finals and also two European Championship finals. Winning EURO 1972 ended the trophyless years for Germany and Schön’s spell was crowned by the DFB Team lifting the 1974 World Cup in their own backyard after a 2-1 win over the Netherlands in the final in Munich.
After the end of Schön’s 14-year era, Jupp Derwall made the step up from assistant to Germany’s head coach. Derwall had a liberal leadership style. He taught his players to take on responsibility themselves and encouraged maturity – successfully. His opening run was breathtaking: Derwall went 23 international fixtures without defeat culminating in a title-winning European Championship campaign in 1980 in Italy. Derwall also led Germany to the final of the 1982 World Cup in Madrid, but they were beaten 3-1 by Italy. It was the beginning of his farewell. After being knocked out of the group stage during the 1984 European Championship, Derwall stepped down as the national coach.
It was time for the return of the “Kaiser”. Franz Beckenbauer made his DFB Team comeback in September 1984, but this time, he was putting his skills to use in the dugout rather than on the pitch. With no coaching licence, Beckenbauer operated under the title of “team manager” and soon after taking charge, he set clear goals for the national team: “German football is in a deep crisis and needs ten years for it to be rebuilt.” Beckenbauer was mistaken. Just two years later, the Germany national team were playing successful football again, with only Argentina stopping them from winning the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. But Germany got their revenge four years later at Italia ’90. Andreas Brehme’s penalty against Argentina in the final was enough to see them lift their third World Cup.
The Golden Goal and A Summer Fairytale
After Beckenbauer stepped down, the DFB board followed the same pattern that they had chosen in appointing Herberger, Schön and Derwall and promoted assistant Berti Vogts to the role of head coach. Just like his predecessor, Vogts required six years before he could follow in the footsteps of every head coach since the Second World War up to that point and win a major tournament. His success came during the 1996 European Championship in England.
Like Beckenbauer, Vogts managed to reach a major final two years after taking charge: The 1992 European Championship final in Sweden against Denmark. But just like Beckenbauer, “Berti” lost at the first attempt, only for him to emulate the “Kaiser” once again and win a trophy at the second bite of the cherry four years later. Vogts led Germany to success in England at EURO 1996 particularly thanks to two vices that set them apart from their competitors: Team spirit and burning desire. Vogts adopted these traits in his own life and the team followed his example – all the way to the final against the Czech Republic, one that was won thanks to Oliver Bierhoff’s historic “golden goal”.
After their success at EURO ’96, the aim for the World Cup in France two years later was clear: Germany wanted to win the World Cup. However, they failed in their mission, bowing out at the quarterfinal stage after a 3-0 loss to Croatia. Vogts spell in charge came to an end soon after: He stepped down from his role as head coach in September 1998.
Erich Ribbeck took the reins. During a difficult phase, the DFB Team managed to qualify for EURO 2000 in the Netherlands and Belgium under the leadership of Jupp Derwall’s former assistant. However, Germany were sent packing after the group stage. Ribbeck took responsibility and announced his resignation shortly after the tournament.
That paved the way for Rudi Völler. He was fairly easy-going yet down to the point in specific aspects, an approach that led the national team back to the pinnacle of world football. Germany played straight-forward but successful football. Two years after their group-stage exit at the European Championship, the DFB Team had recovered and fought their way to the final of the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. That match may have ended in a 2-0 defeat to Brazil, but the team won the hearts of those back home. The coach and his players were greeted with wild celebrations on their return to Germany and the chanting began: There’s only one Rudi Völler.
The expectations were accordingly high for EURO 2004 in Portugal two years later. Germany got through qualifying without losing and commandingly won Group 5 ahead of Scotland and Iceland. But during the finals, the team weren’t able to replicate their impressive form. After two draws and a defeat, the DFB Team exited at the group phase and Rudi Völler stepped down.
Jürgen Klinsmann took over and the foundations for “A Summer Fairytale” were laid. The 2006 World Cup in Germany saw the national team wow the home supporters and the whole world with a new playing style that had developed under Klinsmann. Germany were playing attractive and attacking football and was worth more than the third-place finish the DFB Team achieved. A legacy that Klinsmann’s successor helped start. His assistant Joachim Löw had a big hand in the team’s development – since he took over at the helm, the side has advanced even more. Germany reached the final of EURO 2008 in Austria and Switzerland. The final in Vienna was made up of two sides that have shaped the modern international game: Germany and Spain. The latter triumphed thanks to a 1-0 scoreline – an era began.
Since then, Löw has worked on trying to reduce the gap in class between themselves and Spain. Germany impressed once again at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa: Playfulness, creativity and technical finesse had become the signature features of the national team. However, it didn’t prove to be enough. Spain were that little bit better and luckier than Germany in the semi-final: Carlos Puyol’s header ended the World Cup dream for national coach Löw.
Today, nothing has changed. Löw and the team want to reward themselves with a title, even more so after their semi-final defeat to Italy at EURO 2012 following yet another commanding qualifying campaign. Nine wins and one draw have paved the way to Brazil. The Germany coach and his players are ready to have another crack at winning a title at the 2014 World Cup.