Germany’s squad boasts ethnic diversity

German Football
By German Football June 17, 2010 03:14

Germany’s squad boasts ethnic diversity

Of the 23 players representing Germany at the World Cup, 11 have foreign backgrounds. More than half of the outfield players selected by Joachim Loew were either born outside Germany themselves, or have a non-German parent. The squad has roots in eight different countries – nine when Germany’s included.

Germany’s favorite sport is a working-class game, but not exclusively so. Soccer is cheap to take up but promises great riches at the top, and so offers the chance to advance and climb the social ladder. These opportunities are keenly seized by youngsters from lower-earning, ethnically-diverse backgrounds.

According to the most up-to-date figures from the Federal Statistics Office, one in five people living in Germany in 2008 was of foreign descent. From the total of 15.9 million with roots abroad, 2.9 million were from Turkey. Two members of the national team at the World Cup – Serdar Tasci and Mesut Oezil – both have Turkish parents. “A gift for German football,” was how Joachim Loew described Oezil.

Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose and Piotr Trochowski were born in Poland, and moved across the border as children. All have been part of Germany’s international set-up for years. Youngster Marko Marin was born in war-struck Bosnia-Herzegovina. His parents moved to Frankfurt when he was two, and, when he came of age, Marin decided on a German passport. Mario Gomez was born in Baden-Wuerttemberg, but his father comes from Spain.

Gomez is likely to miss out on a place in Germany’s attack, in favor of an in-form Brazilian-born striker nicknamed “Helmut.” More commonly known as Cacau, he was born in Sao Paulo province, and moved to German lower-league football ten years ago. He gradually rose through the ranks to become a Bundesliga winner with Stuttgart in 2007. He’s just extended his contract at the club until 2013. Cacau became a German citizen in 2009, and the call from Joachim Loew came quickly. “I am glad that Germany has adopted me,” he said. “My whole mindset is German.”

Included in Germany’s 2010 squad are Dennis Aogo, whose father is Nigerian, and Jerome Boateng, born in Berlin to a Ghanaian father. Sami Khedira is set to play an important role after captain Michael Ballack was ruled out through injury. Ballack was notable for being born in the former East Germany when he made his national team debut in 1999. His replacement has a Tunisian father, and is well-versed on the collective goals of a diverse group of players. “We are a team,” says Khedira. “We all want success at the World Cup, never mind where you come from.”

Sami Khedira(L) and Dennis Aogo at training.

German Football
By German Football June 17, 2010 03:14
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