After their dominant performance at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, including the 7-1 demolition of the host nation, the football world is wanted to understand how Germany transformed their broken team of Euro 2000 into a world-beating machine. PDP Editor examines the resurrection of German Football.

Time for Change

It is well documented that after the team crashed out in the first round of Euro 2000, Germany took drastic action. Working from the bottom up, they underwent a total restructure of how they went about developing players. The DFB (Deutscher Fußball- Bund) implemented a nationwide academy system, the DFB Talent Development Programme, which emphasised homegrown talent, with clubs working in harmony with national team ambitions and placing a huge amount of importance on educating players outside of their football training.

By analysing the 10-year review of the new German system we can now see just how dramatic the changes were, and of course we now know just what the results were: a World Cup win in 2014 following an excellent performance in South Africa in 2010.

The process began with a decision by the DFB to implement 36 academies across all clubs in Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2. The DFB realised in 2001 that the Bosman rule was stifling young German talent; they simply weren’t getting a chance.

Philipp Lahm lifts the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro Photo: Agência Brasil

Many people involved in the game in England would look at the nature of the English Premier League and relate to this plight, pointing at the talented English youngsters who are arguably not getting a chance due to overseas players saturating the league.

Following the DFB’s decision the German football landscape changed, and changed quickly, becoming a self- professed ‘youth football paradise’ according to DFB coach and Director of the Talent Promotion Programme, Jörg Daniel. Daniel claims that there are now over 27,000 clubs, comprising 1.8 million junior players across Germany, meaning the depth of players that the Germans have at the disposal is enormous.

It is the identity of the youth system that should define the identity of the first team, not the other way round. – Pep Segura, La Masia

The DFB maximised buy-in by engaging the football community in the design, development and implementation of this new plan. Traveling the country to visit clubs, schools and other key groups within the game, DFB representatives aimed to create a collective vision for player development in Germany. They created the blueprint for the national team’s style of play and the nation’s footballing identity. The bottom-up alignment between the grassroots and the national team is explained by Pep Segura, former technical director of La Masia, Barcelona’s fabled academy.

“It is the identity of the youth system that should define the identity of the first team, not the other way round. First-team managers should be chosen because they fit the identity of the club.”

The Patience Game

Many of us in the world of football are familiar with the term Long- Term Player Development, or LTPD. The German model is almost the textbook example of how LTPD can be implemented and provides success due to a truly player-centred, patient approach. In modern culture, we live in a quick fix society, always wanting to see results immediately. The same can be said for football. Academies are looking for technically gifted youth players, clubs want the best athletes and schools reward results, when in fact we need to be looking at developing the individual, over time, on a journey, and accept the ups and downs, the success and the failure.

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Dave Wright
Dave Wright
Dave Wright is a Co-Founder of Player Development Project and UEFA A licensed coach with 15 years coaching experience in England, Australia & New Zealand. He currently works as an academy coach in London.
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