The fear of pain spread over our fair little island last night as Germany produced an enviable show of force in their first game of the 2010 World Cup. Even without their leader, Michael Ballack, they were able to make light work of Australia and end the night as 4-0 winners – it could have been more too.
Many still detest the sight of German success as they are unable to recollect that the war is over. Many of those who aren’t stupid still dislike the Germans purely because of the agony they have heaped on English football fans over (fairly) recent years.
So the nationwide wince experienced last night was only natural.
I actually love the Germans. I was pretty gutted when they lost out to Spain two years ago in the Euro 2008 final. They constantly display the desire to win that we all wish we could see from England. They even got to the final of the 2002 World Cup, even though England famously beat them 5-1 in the qualifying rounds of that tournament. Germany (West Germany between 1949 and 1990) have been at every World Cup since 1934. Since then they have failed to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament just once, in 1938. They have reached the final seven times, winning the trophy on three of those occasions.
In fear of sounding like a xenophobic moron though, I must point out that there are a number of ‘foreigners’ in the German squad. Of course every German is foreign to an Englishman, so I’m talking of the players in the German squad that aren’t German. Look at these players who were a major influence in Germany’s victory last night – Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose, Mesut Ozil, Cacau, Philipp Lahm and Thomas Muller – only the last two were born in Germany. Podolski and Klose were both born in Poland, Ozil in Turkey and Cacau in Brazil. In addition, substitute Marko Marin was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Such a point could anger a lot of people, especially if this team of ‘ringers’ goes on to do what last night suggested they might – win the whole thing. The more liberal fans will look at it as an example of how Germany is a marvellously diverse country. This should not be taken lightly either, especially given that dark period in German history too many are too quick to hold against them.
While I obviously think a lot of Germany, I must point out that I am one of too few Englishmen who genuinely believe this is the greatest country. Therefore, if England do meet Germany in the second round of the World Cup (or later), I will be giving all of my support to my fellow countrymen. But, if I hear the word ‘Kraut’ or any mention of ‘The War’, I might just try to claim German citizenship like all of the players mentioned above.