wir sind weltmeister
It’s been 24 years. I wasn’t even born when West Germany won the last one. It’s our first World Cup as a unified nation. We’re the first European team to win in South America. We broke a ridiculous amount of records on our way to the final and established quite a few as well. It took 112 minutes for it to happen in the Maracanã. But it’s been a long time coming. A really long time. And this is our fairytale ending to the story we first penned in 2006.
The heartbreak we suffered in 2002 (WC second place), 2006 (WC third place), 2008 (Euros second place), 2010 (WC third place), and 2012 (Euros third place)… and finally 2014 is ours.
This was a last chance for so many players on our team.
This was Miroslav Klose’s fourth World Cup and he’s scored in all of them. He’s the leading all time scorer in the World Cup now, surpassing Ronaldo’s previous record of 15 to establish the new standard at 16 goals. He’s thirty-six years old now and many, many people doubted he would return to the world stage all the way back in2010. But he came back and now he has a World Cup to his name. Miro was my first ever football idol and his integrity is something I aspire toward.
Then there were the players from 2006 – Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski, Per Mertesacker, and Philipp Lahm. It’s likely that this World Cup is their last too.
I still remember Philipp’s opening cracker of a goal in 2006 against Costa Rica as he scored the opening goal on German soil. He still had a make-shift cast on and he ran to the bench to celebrate with Timo Hildebrand. We went on to win that match 4-2. Now he’s our captain and the best right back in the world.
Per has always been there in the back, a steady presence with his towering height of 6 feet, 6 inches (which is tall for footballers) and he’s persevered through the years to continue to be there in the back four.
Poldi is one of the happiest people you’ll ever meet. He smiles and smiles. He’s one of the biggest cheerleaders on the bench and he, along with Per, always got up to pass out water to the starters whenever there was a chance. The Brazilian people fell in love with him this summer and it’s easy to see why.
And Basti… Basti played his heart out for us on Sunday. He was taken down again and again and again in those final thirty minutes of extra time. He was bleeding at one point when Aguero punched him in the face during an aerial duel. But he never gave in to the pain, to the cramping, to the exhaustion and heat. He played until the final whistle and he was our anchor in the midfield. Even though it was Mario Goetze who scored the winning goal, Bastian Schweinsteiger was my Man of the Match.
If I had the time I would write at least a few words about every player on our team, but I just really wanted to make sure to acknowledge the above five because they know… they truly know what it means to give their all, to get so close… and come away with nothing. They know what it’s like to lose and so this final triumph is just that much more.
I will say that we didn’t play “beautiful football” throughout the tournament. In fact, there were matches where we barely scraped by (Ghana, Algeria…). But we never gave up and we continued to play until we found ourselves facing Argentina in the final. We were a team, first and foremost, and we won this tournament by playing as a team. A team of newly crowned world champions. A team worthy of the fourth star on our jersey.
Last night I stayed up until 5AM watching a livestream of die Mannschaft landing in Berlin and going to the Fanmeile to celebrate with the fans, to share the World Cup with the entire country. This song was one of the two performed during the festivities and it’s my song of the week. I’ve had it on repeat the entire day. Much like Xavier Naidoo’s Dieser Weg or Danke, this song will stay with me for years to come.
It was amazing to see them at the Fanmeile again. The last time at the Fanmeile in 2006 was bittersweet because we had only earned third place while playing at home and because our head coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, was resigning. It was a thank you and a celebration of what the team had accomplished but it didn’t feel complete even if the “hashtag” that year was teamgeist. Yesterday, we came full circle. Even though not all those who played in 2006 could have been there to take part in the moment, it felt like a piece of the sadness that had haunted us for so many years was finally removed.
Germany was the team that taught me to love football and they will always be the only country that I cheer on in any international competition. #aneuerseite