For the moment, the past is where Löw – and with him some 80m Germans – place their optimism on. Löw has shaped his players, he's developed the squad further, and it's under his guidance that Germany have gelled into a cohesive team that plays successful and attractive football. In fact, many observers rate the side as one of the world's best, heaping equal praise on Löw himself whose qualities, they say, are beyond any doubt, his abilities there for all to see.
But it wasn't always so. Just like any other coach, 51-year-old Joachim Löw had to work hard to gain recognition and first grasp, then master the art of coaching. In the early days, he was anything but "untouchable" and was even sacked by Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart despite having taken the team to the 1998 European Cup Winners' Cup final. "I was young and, with hindsight, probably made a few mistakes too many in terms of dressing room control," he recently admitted in an interview on the Sport1 web portal.
Löw learned his lessons, gained further qualifications, matured, and was given more opportunities to prove himself. And while he can rightly be proud of what he's achieved, he's the first to acknowledge that a great deal of luck and coincidence have played a part in making him national coach: realising that the coaching license he had obtained in Switzerland would not be recognised in across-the-border Germany, he enrolled in the DFB Pro level coaching course, just to find himself sharing class with a celebrity mate – Jürgen Klinsmann.
The rest, as they say, is history. Löw followed Klinsmann as assistant coach with the German FA and took over as head coach after the 2006 World Cup. "That was the moment that shaped me most as a coach. I stopped seeing things through the eyes of a club coach and adopted a much wider view. And I've learned a lot, especially from meetings and exchanges with top international coaches," Löw says.
He may have got lucky, but in the same breath insists that for him, professional satisfaction does not hinge on coaching at the highest possible level. "I would have been quite happy to coach a lower-division team or join a smaller club abroad – as long as I am given free reign to put my philosophy into practise."
Having said that, working at the top of the range is definitely a nice perk of the job, and Löw is, of course, intelligent and decent enough not to claim that Germany's success of late is all of his own making. Time and again, he praises his backroom staff, as well as the excellent training and education the actual players bring to the table (or pitch, rather). "After EURO 2000 people realised that German football was caught in a downward spiral and that something had to be done," Löw remembers, paying special tribute to the then DFB President, Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder, who initiated a major talent promotion scheme, and commending the clubs themselves where young players now get the best possible training in professionally-run academies.
"There has really been a quantum leap in quality in the last ten years," says Löw, "and we're only just beginning to reap the rewards. Just look at players like Götze and Özil, with many more waiting in the wings." Players with whom Löw loves to work, players who allow him to play the game as he wants it to be played, players who Löw wants to win titles for Germany. Preferably in the not too-distant future.
12 January 2012
Originally published on dfb.de, uploaded here to prevent loss once moved on or removed from that site.