Jurgen Klinsmann’s short tenure as the boss of Germany helped set the stage for the current squad’s power, according to Per Mertesacker.
The Arsenal defender was part of a young 2006 group that finished third in Germany and included Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski and Philipp Lahm.
Now that unit is older, stronger and just finished looking downright clinical in a 4-0 destruction of Portugal.
“Klinsmann gave the younger generation the confidence which is still there now,” said Mertesacker, who would win his 100th cap against Ghana.
“We’re still benefiting from that time.”
The 49-year-old Klinsmann, a World Cup-winner in 1990, took over the Germany reins in 2004 after the team had embarrassingly crashed out of the European Championships in the group stages without even winning a game — they couldn’t even beat Lativia.
He went on to steer Die Mannschaft to third at the 2006 World Cup before resigning to be replaced by his assistant Joachim Löw.
While no one’s expecting Mertesacker to call Klinsmann a bum, it’s worth noting the defender’s sentiments.
Klinsmann has received plenty of guff for his youth movement on the 23-man roster, with John Anthony Brooks, Julian Green and DeAndre Yedlin in the mix. Yet if his guidance of American youth can produce even a half of what’s happened in Germany, Klinsmann will have been an unbridled success.