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Blog 3: Wirtschaftswunder Zwei

The Germans are at their best when they are laying face down in the mud. After the Second World War, they crawled out of the hole they had dug themselves and worked hard on the Wirtschaftswunder. Harald Jähner wrote a great book about it last year: Aftermath.

The same determination was shown by the Germans on a completely different level, but in an area that is also important for the Germans, namely football. After years of investment in foreign players by the Bundesliga clubs, hardly any German talent came through for the national team. In the lean years of 1998 and 2000, Germany went down inglorious at the final tournaments, and it was a matter of training stars again for the 2006 World Cup, so that they would shine at home.

With an ingenious system of support points, the German federation scouted talent in areas where there were no professional clubs, and the professional clubs were obliged to set up a youth academy. The emphasis was placed on technique and personal development instead of the collectivity and strength that the Germans had previously excelled in. Players were given extra training and support at a young age and there was an investment in all positions on the pitch. Whereas in the Netherlands goalkeepers have hardly received any specialized training in recent years (with all the consequences that entails), Germany went to great lengths to ensure that they now produce top talent in all lines. From goalkeepers (5-6 German goalkeepers in the premier league alone) to top strikers!

In ten years, an enormous potential of great players was created and, as a bonus, great trainers were also trained. So much so that the European leagues are dominated by German trainers.

If German football continues to develop as the German economy has done, the Netherlands will be in for a treat in the years to come, and the confrontations between them will be painful.

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