Klinsmann's upbeat attitude rubs off on his players

Juergen Klinsmann's confidence as a swashbuckling striker hasn't left him as coach, either, and it's rubbing off on his players.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:35 IST
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Juergen Klinsmann never lacked confidence when he was a swashbuckling striker for Germany. That self-belief hasn't left him as coach, either, and it's rubbing off on his players. When he became coach of Germany two years ago, Klinsmann promised to give the host nation its fourth World Cup title. It was an astonishing declaration for a man entering his first coaching experience in one of the toughest jobs in soccer, at a time when the image of German soccer was at one of its lowest in decades. The Germans were World Cup finalists in 2002, a surprise run, but they tumbled out of the 2004 European Championship without winning a game, which was closer to reality. They were playing dull, plodding soccer and Klinsmann's promise seemed completely out of place. The man who gave him the job didn't have doubts, though. "I've known Juergen for many years and I know very well his determination," said Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder, a co-president of the German soccer federation. "I always believed he could do it. "This team has developed great self-confidence, and that comes from having a coach with such a positive energy who is convinced of his mission," said Mayer-Vorfelder, once the president of Stuttgart, Klinsmann's first major club as player. "If you don't have that self-belief you won't project it." That confidence is more than evident ahead of Friday's quarterfinal match against Argentina, although Germany has not beaten one of the elite soccer nations since October 2000, a run of 16 games. Listen to Torsten Frings, a midfielder, who is likely to have to deal with Juan Roman Riquelme, the Argentine playmaker. "I don't care what happened in the last six years. I am not thinking one second that we can lose. We are sure that we'll win," Frings said on Tuesday. "We are stronger. We are top fit. We can go for 90 minutes. We can go for 120 minutes if necessary and I don't think Argentina likes a team that is always coming at them." Klinsmann already has said that quarterfinals won't be the team's final stop. "We won't stop. We want to go all the way to the end," he said. Central defender Christoph Metzelder said Klinsmann was always ahead of his players. "He's convinced us of things that we couldn't really believe," he said. Midfielder Sebastian Schweinsteiger added; "Now we know what he wants us to do." Assistant coach Joachim Loew, a friend of Klinsmann who is the team's chief game plan creator, said the coach was a good motivator. "Klinsmann always had clear visions and he was always consistent in his work. He is frontman that can delegate very well and he is a good motivator," Loew said. To motivate reserve players, Klinsmann gives them the job of firing up the team with short speeches before games. He is also aware of the needs of his young players, who don't like being closed up in the team's hotel for a long time. After games, he's allowed them to go home and the players are usually free to do what they want outside practice times. "He gives us responsibility and a lot of freedom. We use them but we don't abuse them," Metzelder said. "The team is prepared to win and we have to give credit to the coach and his staff. It's impressive what he's done." Although he is a novice in coaching, Klinsmann can draw on the experience of six major finals he played in, winning the World Cup title in 1990 and the 1996 European Championship - the last two titles Germany won. (AP)