do not mention the war

The Beginning of a Wonderful Friendship

In Anglo-German Relations on June 20, 2013 at 00:14

Over the last 2 years, maybe 3, something strange happened. German football suddenly became en vogue in England and the English media. This was underlined by the hype that surrounded the all-German Champions League Final at Wembley this year. Suddenly the German model was described as the way forward in football. This is only partly right.

It is true that successful football is coached from a young age but what this hype like coverage tends to forget is that such developments are cyclical. Spain have dominated international football with their national team and on club level since 2008. Before that, it was the Premier League which dominated the Champions League from 2005 until 2009, when each year at least one club made it to the final, 2008 even 2. However, this was finished after Bayern’s and Dortmund’s emphatic semi-final dissection of Barcelona and Real respectively.


The World Cup 2010 in South Africa has demonstrated to the football public that Germany have revolutionized their style. This became visible in 2006 but was re-fined in 2010 where the team had the potential to play more actively, something which has not been the case since 1990. While Germany always have produced decent footballers, the class of 2010 was excellent only a little bt was missing: a title.

Despite good football, German national teams have not always been liked, especially not in England. This has changed. The coverage about German football ahead of the Wembley Final in May this year was immense and unprecedented for German football. Among a certain tiredness regarding Barcelona and Spanish football, Bayern and Dortmund in the final were seen as a welcome change from a perceived Spanish dominance.

That the English media always had a soft spot for German football is clear since Bert Trautmann, who – despite a past as a Nazi paratrooper – has won the admiration of many football fans and writers alike his performances in goal for Manchester City. The German team of 1966 were described as galant losers by Geoffrey Green in The Times. Most notably after 1972 Germany were admired in England for their fluid football and the names of Günter Netzer and Gerd Müller reminded many of a night in April in 1972, when England were destroyed at Wembley.

Given some negative influences and some really bad football by Germany it is no wonder that the 1980s and 1990s saw Germany disliked, almost hated. The negative point in this was the EURO 1996 and the ‘Achtung Surrender’ front page of the Daily Mirror. When England beat Germany 5 years later by 5 goals to 1, revenge was theirs and it seemed an old wound has healed that night for England.

Since then Germany enjoyed time away from the lime light of the English with the odd exception in 2002 and 2006 but club football was largely ignored. However, this year seems to have changed that as Dortmund’s and Bayern’s success have highlighted the quality of German club football.

In all this hype it is important to remember that German football always mattered for England and the English media, yet for quite different reasons and that this ‘Anglo-German football rivalry in the football press’ goes back to the 1950s when Bert Trautmann received standing ovations after his first game in London at Craven Cottage for his performance. It is therefore a positive to see the press finally focussing on the football again.

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