Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Germany Greatest All-time 23-member team

World Cup 2014

This is my all-time team for Germany. If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.  

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index
North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria.
East German Players after 1990
German Americans/American Germans
German Turks 
German-born Players Capped by Other National Teams
Germany All-Time Team After Beckenbauer
Germany All-Time Team before 1972
East Germany
Germany All-Time Team Without Bayern Munich Players

Germany is the most successful European footballing country.  They won the World Cup in 1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014.  They finished second in 1966, 1982 and 1986.  They also have the best record at the European Championship.  They won the tournament a record 3 times in 1972, 1980 and 1996, and finished second in 1976 and 2008.  

While West Germany won their first World Cup in 1954, football in Germany did not become a force until the later 1960's with the emerge of Franz Beckenbauer.  Their moment came when they beat England in the quarterfinal of the 1972 European Championship and went on to win the tournament.  Many historians marked the game as the turning point in football history.  Germany produced great team after great team from 1972 to 1996.  After the Euro 2000, Germany had a brief dark age, but they reemerged as a world power around the WC Finals in 2006.  In 2014, they won their 4th World Cup, beating host Brazil 7-1 in the semifinal.

If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.  The team is not an All-Star team. I tried to be as realistic as possible.   A few of the players are selected for tactical reasons at the expense of more famous players.

West Germany 1990

GK: Sepp Maier
Nicknamed "The cat from Anzing", Maier was considered one of the greatest goalkeeper ever in the 1970's. He had 95 caps for West Germany, winning the European Championship in 1972 and the World Cup at home in 1974. For club football, he played his entire career with Bayern Munich. He also won three straight European Cups for Bayern Munich.  He was German Footballer of the Year: 1975, 1977, 1978.

GK: Oliver Kahn
Kahn is one of the most successful German players in recent history.  For Bayern Munich, he won eight Bundesliga titles, six DFB-Pokals, the UEFA Cup in 1996, the UEFA Champions League and the Intercontinental Cup, both achieved in 2001. For Germany, his heroic performance helped Germany to finish 2nd at Korea/Japan 2002.  He was the Gold Ball winner in that World Cup Finals.   

GK: Toni Schumacher
Schumacher won the 1980 European Championship in Italy and came second at the World Cup finals, in 1982 and 1986.  He was best remembered for a highly controversial incident in the 1982 World Cup semifinal against France when he collided with and seriously injured French defender Patrick Battiston.  He spent the prime of his career with Koln.

RB: Berti Vogts
Nicknamed “Der Terrier”, Vogts was one of the greatest rightback in German history.  He won 5 Bundesliga titles and two UEFA Cups with the great Borussia Mönchengladbach of the 1970's.  He had 95 caps, winning both the World Cup in 1974 and the European Championshipmin 1972. He famously marked Johan Cruyff out of the World Cup Final in 1974. 

RB/LB/DM: Philipp Lahm
Philipp Lahm was the captain of the 2014 World Cup winning team. He had 113 caps for Germany from 2004 to 2014.  He was included in the World Cup team of the tournament in 2006 and 2010.  For club football, he played his entire career with Bayern Munich, except for a two year loan spell with VfB Stuttgart. He also won the treble in 2013 when Bayern Munich won the Champions' League, the German Cup and the Bundesliga on the same year.  He is a member of Bayern Munich's Hall of Fame.
Philipp Lahm
CB: Jurgen Kohler
Jurgen Kohler was regarded one of the best defenders in the 1990's.   He earned 105 caps for West Germany/Germany between 1986 and 1998.  He won the World Cup in 1990 and the European Championship in 1996.  For his club career, he played with Koln, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund.  He won the Champions' League in 1997 with Borussia Dortmund.  

CB: Karl-Heinz Forster

With West Germany, Forster earned 81 caps. He won the European Championship in 1980, and came 2nd at the World Cup in both 1982 and 1986.  He was regarded one of the best defenders in the 1980's.  He played with VFB Stuttgart and Marseille.  With Stuttgart, he won a Bundesliga in the 1983–84 season.  He won two league titles in France.

SW/CM: Franz Beckenbauer
Franz Beckenbauer was one of the best ever player in history.  Known as Der Kaiser, he was credited with revolutionizing the sweeper position.  He was twice selected European Footballer of the Year. Beckenbauer appeared 103 times for West Germany and played in three FIFA World Cups, winning the World Cup in 1974 and the European Championship in 1972.  At the club level, he won three straight European Cup with Bayern Munich in 1974, 1975 and 1976. He also played for Hamburger and NY Cosmos.
Franz Beckenbauer
SW: Matthias Sammer
With Borussia Dortmund as a player, Sammer won the Bundesliga and DFL-Supercup in 1995, the Bundesliga, DFL-Supercup, and European Footballer of the Year in 1996, and the UEFA Champions League and Intercontinental Cup in 1997. He also played for Inter Milan and Dynamo Dresden. With Die Mannschaft  as a player, Sammer won the UEFA Euro 1996, where he was named the tournament's best player, and was subsequently awarded the Ballon d'Or later that year. Sammer retired with 74 total caps, 23 for East Germany and 51 for the unified side.  

LB: Andreas Brehme
Andreas Brehme is best remembered for his career with Kaiserslautern and Inter Milan.  He was the Serie A Foreign Player of the Year in 1989, in an era where the best players played in Italy.  He had 86 caps.  He was an important player for West Germany in the 1990 WC Finals, where he scored the winning goal in the Final. He also played in 1986 and 1994 World Cup Finals, and three European Championship.

LB/CM: Paul Breitner

Breitner was the first player to score a goal at two different WC Final match.  From 1971 to 1982, he had 48 caps for West Germany. He won the European Championship in 1972 and then, a the World Cup in 1974. He spent most of his career with Bayern Muinch and went to play for Real Madrid in Spain.  During his club career, Breitner won seven National Championships with Bayern Munich (1972, 1973, 1974, 1980, 1981) and Real Madrid (1975, 1976), the Champions' Cup (1974) as well as the German (1971, 1982) and Spanish Cups (1975). 
Paul Breitner

CM: Bastian Schweinsteiger
Bastian Schweinsteiger was an important player for both club and country.  He was capped 121 times. He went to three European Championships and as many World Cups, including their victory at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Schweinsteiger is the youth product of Bayern Munich.  He won the 2013 Champions' league title with Bayern Munich. Late in his career, he played for Manchester United and Chicago Fire.

CM: Lothar Matthaus
Matthaus captained the West German team in winning the World Cup in 1990.  He was the European Player of the Year and the first ever World Player of the year in 1990. He played in five FIFA World Cups (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998), a record for an outfield player, and holds the record for the most World Cup matches played by a single player (25 games). He also won the Euro 1980 in Italy, and played in the 1984, 1988, and 2000 European Championships. At the club level, he was remembered for his spell with Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Lothar Matthaus
RW:  Helmut Rahn
Rahn was known as "Der Boss" (English: "The Boss") because of his on-field leadership and occasionally also as "The Cannon from Essen".  He was considered one of the best ever German winger.  His club career was associated with Rot-Weiss Essen.  Capped 40 times.  He was a star of the 1954 World Cup team.  He scored the winning goal in the final vs Hungary. He also went to the WC Finals in 1958.

RW/AM: Pierre Littbarski  
Littibarski was a major star in the 1980's.  He had over 70 caps and played in three WC Finals with Germany reaching the Final all 3 times, winning his final World Cup in 1990. He spent most of his career with Koln. Littbarski spent most of his playing career at 1. FC Köln, winning the DFB-Pokal once, in 1983, and was three times runner up in the Bundesliga (1982, 1989 and 1990).  He also played in France and Japan.

LW:  Hans Schafer  
Hans Schafer played for 1. FC Köln between 1948 and 1965. He also played for the West Germany, earning 39 caps and scoring 15 goals. He played in three World Cups, in 1954, 1958, and 1962, earning a winner's medal in 1954 and scoring a total of seven goals. Between 1957 and 1962, Schäfer captained Germany 16 times. He was German Player of the Year in 1963. He spent all of his career with Koln.

LM/CM: Wolfgang Overath
Overath was one of the best left midfielders in history,  He won the 1974  WC, where he kept Netzer from the starting lineup. In total he won 81 caps for the national side between 1963 and 1974, scoring 17 goals.  In addition to 1974 World Cup Finals, he also went to the 1966 and 1970 World Cup Finals. He spent all of his career with Koln.

CM: Gunther Netzer
Gunther Netzer was the star of the great Borussia Mönchengladbach of the 1970's.  He won the European Championship in 1972 and then, the World Cup in 1974.  His best performance, however, was in 1972, where he was the star at the quarterfinal against England.  He later joined Real Madrid in 1973 and outperformed Johan Cruyff's Barcelona in the early 1970's in a period dominated by Real Madrid.
Gunter Netzer
AM/FW: Fritz Walter
Fritz Walter was the captain of the 1954 World Cup winning team.  His brother Ottar Walter was also on that team. He had over 60 caps and also went to the 1958 World Cup Finals. He was selected as the UEFA Golden Player for Germany at the 50th anniversary of UEFA in 2004. During the War, he captured as a POW and his life was spared because the guards recognised him as a famous footballer. He played his entire career with Kaiserslautern between 1937 and 1959.
Fritz Walter in 1954

FW: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was one of the best players in the world during the 1980's.  He was the European Player of the Year in 1980 and 1981.  He won the European Championship in 1980 and was part of the squad that finished runner-up at the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain and at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. He was a young star in Argentina 1978.  He spent the best parts of his club career with Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
ST: Uwe Seeler
Seeler was captain of both his club team and the national team for many years. He played in 4 WC Finals(1958, 1962, 1966 and 1970), but sandwiched between Germany's two World Cup winning years(1954 and 1974).  West Germany came second in 1966 and reached the semifinal in 1970 while playing next to Gerd Muller. However, he is still regarded one of Germany's greatest players.  He spent his entire career with SV Hamburger.

ST: Jurgen Klinsmann
Klinsmann won the WC in 1990 and then, captained the 1996 European Championship winning team.  He played in all major international tournaments from 1988 until his retirement in 1998.  He had successful club spells with Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspurs. He was a popular player while in England, despite a lot of negative press at the time of his signing.  He won both the FWA Footballer of the Year and PFA Player of the Year in 1995.  

ST: Gerd Muller
"Der Bomber" was widely considered to be the greatest striker in history. He scored 68 goals in 62 matches for Die Mannschaft.   He scored 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga appearance, mostly with Bayern Muinch.   He won three straight European Cup with Bayern Munich in 1974, 1975 and 1976. At the international level, he played over 60 times for West Germany.  He won the World Cup in 1974 and the European Championship in 1972. He was the European Player of the Year in 1970.  
Gerd Muller
Honorable Mention
Manuel Neuer, Karl-Heinz Schnellinger, Toni Kroos, Mesut Özil, Willi Schulz, Manfred Kaltz, Hans Peter Briegel, Paul Janes, Horst Hrubesch, Richard Hofmann, Bernd Schuster, Horst Szymaniak, Guido Buchwald, Fritz Szepan, Michael Ballack, Andy Moeller, Stefan Effenberg, Helmut Haller, Thomas Hassler, Miroslav Klose, Klaus Fischer, Thomas Muller, Pierre Littbarski, Jürgen Grabowski, Rudi Voller, Thomas Berthold, Mat Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Oliver Bierhoff, Uli Stielike, Bert Trautmann.

Squad Explanation
-- Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller, Karl-Heinz Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Lothar Matthaus and Fritz Walter does not need introduction.  The are automatic selection.  Sepp Maier, Oliver Kahn, Paul Breitner, Bertie Vogts, Wolfgang Overath, Karl-Heinz Forster, Jurgen Kohler, Gunther Netzer, Uwe Seeler and Mathias Sammer are also close to automatic selection.  So it is hard to break into the team with so many automatic selections and legends from Germany.
-- Bert Trautmann never played for Germany.  So I did not seriously consider him. Manuel Neuer probably should take over the third spot after winning the World Cup in 2014. I never looked into other keepers as Maier, Kahn, Schumacher, Trautmann and Neuer were too strong for others to have any realistic chance of ever joining the team.
--  I dropped Karl-Heinz Schnellinger because I already have three leftbacks (Lahm, Brehme and Breitner) and he won't get ahead of Sammer and Beckenbauer on the sweeper position.  I have only two wingers(Rahn and Schafer) on my team so I have to select Lahm and Brehme who could provide width to the offense.  Besides, Lahm can play as a defensive midfielder and both sides of the fullback position. He is more versatile than Schnellinger.
-- As the captain of 2014 World Cup winning team, Philipp Lahm overtook Manfred Kaltz, Paul Janes, etc.
-- I almost took Bernd Schuster, but this team has too many central midfielders. Netzer, Breitner, Overath, Beckenbauer, Sammer and even Lahm can play there.  I also feel the same way about Horst Szymaniak, Guido Buchwald, Fritz Szepan, Michael Ballack and Stefan Effenberg.  Instead, I took an extra wide player; Pierre Littbarski.  He is not as highly rated as the other mentioned here, but I needed a winger. This German All-Time Team was one of my earliest blog team.  I was still trying to create a balanced and realistic German team.  My later blog teams are less balanced.  Pierre Littibarski probbaly won't make the team. 
-- Bastian Schweinsteiger was taken because I wanted to award more players from the World Cup 2014 team.  I am not sure if he is better than Schuster, Szepan and Szymaniak. I simply want to spread around the team. Toni Kroos is building a strong career, but it would be difficult to break into the team. I mentioned that Germany had plenty of great midfielders. He might take over Schweinsteiger's spot one day.
-- The 2014 World Cup team is underrepresented.  Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm made the team.  Toni Kroos and Mesut Özil made honourable mention.  In 2019, I added Mat Hummels and Jerome Boateng to honorable mention.
-- I almost rewarded Miroslav Klose with a spot on the team for being the WC all-time leading scorer, but his career outside the World Cup Finals was only fair.  Jurgen Klinsmann did much better than him. He was all-time great with both Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspurs.
-- Thomas Muller scored plenty of goals at the WC Finals, but he failed to break Klose's record in Russia.  He also was not as highly rated outside the World Cup Finals than the players selected. At this point, he only got an honourable mention.  
-- Horst Hrubesch got honourable mention because he is considered one of the greatest header of the ball.  
-- Hans Schafer, Fritz Walter and Helmut Rahn are the only players from the 1954 World Cup winning team.
-- From the 1970's, I have Sepp Maier, Franz Beckenbauer, Bertie Vogts, Gerd Muller and Gunter Netzer.  Uwe Seeler's career overlapped with them, but he retired by the 1974 World Cup Finals.  In 1970, he formed a great partnership with Gerd Muller. He also played in the 1958 World Cup Finals with Walter and Rahn.
-- West Germany won the Euro 1980 and reached the World Cup Finals twice in the 1980's, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Toni Schumacher and Karl-Heinz Forster won the European Championship.  Andreas Brehme, Lothar Matthaus and Pierre Littibarski also played in the 1980's.  The three of them also won the 1990 World Cup alongside Jurgen Kohler and Jurgen Klinsmann.
Breitner, Becknebauer, Muller and Overath
Starting up 
Formation I: 3-5-2
This formation is based upon the German team of the 1990's.  Lahm started on the team because I needed an offensive-minded wingback.  Matthaus is the box-to-box midfielder, Netzer the creator in the backfield and Walter the attack midfielder. 

Formation II: 4-3-3 
West Germany used a 4-3-3 formation in the 1970's and 1980's.  Beckenbauer was actually a box-to-box midfielder for two of his WC Finals he played in. Vogts started ahead of Lahm because the formation does not need a wingback. Rahn played the role of Littibarski at the World Cup in 1982.

Formation III: 4-3-3
For the formation, Overath could also start for Netzer.  And then, Matthaus would move to the right.


  1. No sammer on honorable mentions?

  2. Sorry have pût on jour team

  3. Great post but I was wondering if you could write a little more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Thanks in advance!

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  5. I did the same exercise for fun just yesterday. I limited myself to the title-winning World Cup teams and wanted to spread the starting 11 over the four different squads heavily weighted towards contributions in the winning years (no Klose, no Kahn, no Seeler, no Rummenigge, no Sammer). Close calls were Buchwald over Kohler, Kroos over Schweinsteiger.

    GK: Neuer (14)
    RB: Lahm (14)
    CD: Beckenbauer (74)
    CD: Buchwald (90)
    LB: Breitner (74)
    MF: Matthaeus (90)
    MF: Fritz Walter (54)
    MF: Kroos (14)
    FW: Klinsmann (90)
    FW: Gerd Mueller (74)
    FW: Rahn (54)