Gerd Mueller proud of German team’s ethnic diversityBy Abhishek Roy, IANS
Friday, July 2, 2010
JOHANNESBURG - Legendary footballer Gerd Mueller feels that the ethnic diversity in the German team has played a role in transforming it into a winning outfit and it should be preserved.
Mueller, who holds the German record of 68 goals from 62 internationals, said the talented youngsters in the squad belonging to different backgrounds have gelled well here as a unit during the ongoing Football World Cup.
“We all should be proud of this team. In fact, we should try to preserve this young squad for the future. The guys are extremely talented,” said Mueller, who won the Golden Boot award in the 1970 World Cup.
The German team’s eclectic mix of nationalities has also impressed Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“Sport is a fantastic instrument of social integration,” Rogge said.
Germany’s team is one of the youngest squads in the World Cup and eleven of its 23 players have foreign backgrounds. These players have their origins in nine different countries.
Football is a popular sport among Germany’s working class and a route to earn great riches. Right from their childhood, youngsters from ethnically-diverse, humble backgrounds try to work their way up the ladder in the sport.
Two members of this team, Serdar Tasci and Mesut Oezil, were born to Turkish parents. Coach Joachim Loew describes Oezil as “a gift to German football”.
Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose and Piotr Trochowski were born in Poland, but moved to Germany at an early age.
Youngster Marko Marin was born in war-ravaged Bosnia-Herzegovina, but his parents moved to Frankfurt when he was two and when the time came to represent the national team, he went for the German passport.
Mario Gomez was born in the German town Baden-Wuerttemberg to a Spanish father.
Germany’s in form striker Cacau, nicknamed Helmut, was born in Brazil’s Sao Paulo province, and started playing in German lower-league football ten years ago. He extended his contract with Bundesliga champion club Stuttgart in 2007 until 2013. It was only last year that Cacau became a German citizen.
Dennis Aogo’s father is Nigerian while Jerome Boateng, was born in Berlin to a Ghanaian father. Boateng’s half-brother Kevin Prince Boateng was born in Berlin and represented the German Under-21 team but preferred to play for Ghana in the World Cup.
Sami Khedira, a replacement after captain Michael Ballack was ruled out with an injury, has a Tunisian father. Ballack was born in East Germany.
(Abhishek Roy can be contacted at [email protected])