Joachim Löw: "My heart still bleeds black, red and gold"
Joachim Löw took charge of his first international match as head coach of Germany against Sweden on 16th August 2006 in Gelsenkirchen. On Tuesday, his career as national coach came to an end after 198 games with the loss to England in the European Championship round of 16 in London. At the final press conference in Herzogenaurach, Jogi Löw and Oliver Bierhoff, Director of National Teams and Academy, reflected on the tournament as well as the past 15 years with the national team. DFB.de has a summary.
Joachim Löw on…
... the tournament and his time as national coach: It wasn't the farewell we all imagined. The disappointment is very, very deep after yesterday's defeat. It's been four and a half very intense weeks. I always had absolute confidence in the team and believed in them. I'm sorry that we disappointed our fans and didn't generate the enthusiasm we had planned before the tournament. I take responsibility for our elimination. It takes time to properly process the disappointment. It has been 15 long years with many great moments and, of course, disappointments. I believe that the players have a very, very good future ahead of them and will achieve the success they are hoping for. I wish my successor Hansi Flick all the best and a lot of success. My heart still bleeds black, red and gold. What will never go away is the journey I have been on with these people. Friendships have developed that go beyond this time with the national team. These are the moments that I will remember, as a human being. I'm incredibly grateful that I was able to experience that. Moments like these make you enjoy being a coach.
... the maturity of the team: There are a lot of players in the squad who don't have a lot of tournament experience yet. I know from my own experience that it can sometimes take two or three tournaments before a player can reach their peak. You have to deal with stressful situations in a tournament. Some players are not yet at their limit. This tournament will certainly help the team. You need to be clinical and have cleverness and coolness in the decisive moments in order to win games like that. The team threw everything in, showed a very good mentality and a lot of will in every game. The team was really ambitious and developed a good spirit, you have to praise them for that. But in the end, something was missing at certain moments, not just yesterday. You could feel it before against Portugal, when we got into difficult moments, or against Hungary, when we conceded right after equalising. But that can also help for future tournaments.
... the return to the team camp: We arrived at the camp late at night. I gave a short speech to the team and all those who work within the team. Many of them have accompanied and supported me for a very long time, both players and coaches. It was very heartfelt to thank them again for everything, despite the disappointment, for the trust they have always had in me. We said goodbye this morning, as the players left one by one this morning. Now we have to process this a bit, and then we'll see what the next few weeks bring.
... team building: It's too early, and also perhaps not possible, for me to analyse what has worked and what has not. Some things worked excellently at times, some things didn't, we invested everything and spent day and night thinking of solutions. The cooperation with the players was very good, we looked critically at many things. For me, it doesn't make any sense to go into detail now.
... the time since 2018: The last three years have been marked by some difficulties. We had some plans and had a clear concept of how we wanted to approach these next few years. There were a lot of difficulties, also due to Corona and some injuries, to get this team to play in and be set up in a way that is important for such a tournament, so that automatisms work better. We had a lot of changes in our squad, also due to injuries. Maybe that's why we didn't manage to achieve what we set out to do.
... his view on the past 15 years: That's not for me to say. I know that I gave everything I had for the national team and the DFB, that I worked with all dedication and passion. When I came in 2004, I couldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be able to experience such a long and intense period. It was all there, I coached more than 190 matches, experienced many tournaments, each one was exciting, eventful and, above all, impactful. We were the benchmark for a long time and won over many, many fans with our football. I am at peace with myself and made the decision for myself a while ago. There will still be many things that I value extremely highly and that have made me who I am today.
Oliver Bierhoff on…
... the European Championship: The heart is still beating, but it's hurting badly right now. We invested a lot. I can only say that the players were focused. It was great preparation and a good environment here at Home Ground. We prepared intensively and invested a lot. You aim high and I was convinced that we could go all the way with this team. You can discuss every game and explain why something happened, but in the end, the result doesn't change and ours is elimination in the round of 16. We are not happy with that, even though the opponent was England. The result counts, no matter how it happens. We are disappointed.
... the position of the national team: You can't be pleased with the fact that we're going into a tournament as underdogs. We have the ambition to always be among the best. We have good players who definitely need to gain experience and take on roles of more responsibility at their clubs. What we didn't manage was to bring consistency into our game. We kept making small steps backwards, and we have to try to put a stop to that. Something new has already grown together in the past few days, the players want to achieve something together and have invested a lot of their time and health.
... the make-up of the team: We have to find a mix between medium-term development and the success you need to have in the short term. I've always kept it that way, discussing with the coaches, but ultimately the decision is up to them. Knowing Hansi Flick, he's someone who likes to introduce young players and take a longer-term view. What that looks like in concrete terms, and what his philosophy will be, is something that he will present himself in August or September, maybe even at the end of July. What's important is that he talks to the players about how they are in his plans. We have to build up young players with an eye to the future and let them gain experience in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. I would like us to be able to bring in more U21 players. I know that Hansi Flick won't only be looking at the U21s, but will also be looking to introduce his ideas at younger levels.
... future national team coach Hansi Flick: Everyone has their own style. His strong people skills are what unites him with Joachim Löw. We will sit down together in the next few days to go through his plan, how he envisions it with the team and the coaches. The task is to play successfully and build a team that can be a real force again at the World Cup in Qatar next year.
... youth problems: We've been dealing with that for a while. These are trends that I have been talking about for some time. We have to look at what's happening with the current U21s. Essentially, we are talking about things that don't take effect overnight. If we look ahead to the 2024 European Championship, Kai Havertz has taken another step, we have Serge Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich or also Jamal Musiala, but it's also a worry. The task of German football, in general, is to make more good players available.