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Philipp Lahm: Germany Can Learn From U17s World Cup Win

Former national captain Philipp Lahm has openly criticised Germany’s underperforming national football team. He believes the U17s’ soccer World Cup win can offer the blueprint for victory.

Julian Nagelsmann’s Germany team should aim to emulate the qualities of Germany’s U17s heading into the home European Championships next year, according to 2014 World Cup winning captain Philipp Lahm. 

Speaking after the Euro 2024 Final Draw at the Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg, Lahm was forthright about the team’s shortcomings in recent defeats against Austria and Turkey.

“There’s a lot missing, otherwise the most recent results wouldn’t be possible because the quality in the squad is there,” Lahm told DW. 

“It’s important that the team has a core, that we recognize its character, that players play in their best positions, and that there’s a bit more organization. That’s what the coach needs to work on in my view,”

While the first team have been struggling, Germany’s U17s have been thriving. They defeated France on penalties to win the World Cup, having already been crowned European Champions in June. 

Asked by DW what the first team might learn from the youngsters, Lahm identified several areas of potential.

“Passion is important and it’s important to have some enthusiasm when you represent your country,” said the former captain. “That’s the foundation you need to play successful football, and the U17s have shown that.”

“We’d like to see that from the first team as well, that passion, that willingness to put yourself at the team’s service.”

German football “on its knees

Fellow World Cup winner Roman Weidenfeller, who served as a back-up to Manuel Neuer during the team’s successful 2014 campaign, added that German football was currently “on its knees”.

However, the former Borussia Dortmund player was full of praise for the example set by the U17s and their togetherness as a team.

“We need to see that the players in the first team enjoy playing for their country, that they want to achieve success for Germany at any cost,” he explained to DW. 

“The work rate that the U17s displayed and the way they dealt with setbacks were impressive, and it’s clearly a great relationship between the players and the coaching staff. A team mentality can move mountains.” 

Too soon for first team for U17 heroes

While the U17s may offer a lesson or two to Nagelsmann’s side, the national team’s head coach is not inclined to absorb any individual members of the trophy-winning side into the senior squad. 

Goalkeeper Konstantin Heide, who played in the semifinal and final because first choice stopper Max Schmitt was ill, was the hero for Germany as both matches went to penalties but the 17-year-old has only played one match for third division side Unterhaching.

Meanwhile Paris Brunner, who scored twice against Argentina in their last four clash before opening the scoring in the final against France, was suspended by his club Borussia Dortmund in October “for disciplinary reasons”, and apparently not for the first time.

“They’re still too young,” Nagelsmann said of the whole side. “It’s not the healthy way, once they’ve won the U17 World Cup to push them into the first national team, because they have to grow in a healthy way. 

“They have the chance to do it now, and we’ll see some of them in a couple of years.”

Source : DW