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Goal.com Special: The Future Is Bright, The Future Is German

Germany’s 4-0 win over England in Malmo this week clinched their first ever triumph at U-21 level, but completed an historic treble of junior titles following previous victories in both the U-17 and the U-19 European Championships.  

The fact that Germany holds all three titles concurrently says a lot about the healthy state of the game with regard to the number of quality players coming through the youth ranks. 

After winning the U-17 tournament on home soil in May coach Horst Hrubesch talked up the youth system in the country. "We have many fine young players and credit to the German Football Association who have invested to improve the situation," Hrubesch said. 

"There is great co-operation between the FA, the smaller regional FAs, the clubs and the Bundesliga. The result is bright, young, talented players for the future."  

That, however, has not always been the case in the past decade with a surprising shortage of world-class players emerging from within the borders of Germany. You can probably count on one hand the number of truly world-class stars from Germany in recent years, and only Michael Ballack and Christophe Metzelder can claim to play for a ‘big’ foreign club.  

The situation used to be so different - and there was a spell in the 1990s in particular when Germany seemed to be producing stars left, right and centre that big clubs were desperate to sign. 

Serie A as an example were more than willing to accommodate players such as Andreas Moller, Matthias Sammer, Thomas Doll, Lothar Matthaus, Juergen Klinsmann, Stefan Reuter, Juergen Kohler and Oliver Bierhoff to name just a few.      

The recent successes at junior level are encouraging though and we could be about to see a return to those rosier times when Germany’s export industry was boosted by its footballers.  

Last July saw Germany claim the U-19 European title for the first time with a 3-1 win over Italy in the Czech Republic. Hrubesch was the coach and he then repeated the feat in May of this year with the U-19 side as they triumphed on home soil, beating the Netherlands 2-1 in the final in Magdeburg after extra-time.   

Hrubesch was once again called upon to lead his country for the recent U-21 tournament in Sweden, and whilst they were not the most spectacular of sides, the Germans duly delivered a third title with the win over favourites England.  

Goal.com takes the opportunity to look at some of the stars of the three tournament wins to see who could be a star of the future…  

U-17s  

Christopher Buchtmann (Liverpool)

English side Liverpool have a real star of the future on their books in the shape of left-winger Christopher Buchtmann. The former Borussia Dortmund man played on the opposite wing in the finals tournament, but impressed nonetheless. He scored against Turkey in Germany’s opener and then set up three goals in the win over England. It was his creativity and ammunition which fed strikers Lennart Thy and Mario Gotze.

Mario Gotze (Borussia Dortmund)

A former team-mate of Buchtmann’s at Dortmund, Gotze grabbed everybody’s attention in May with his dynamic performances. He is a midfield all-rounder who can use both feet to good effect. His silky dribbling, awareness and skill was great to watch and he scored a superb goal against England. He also provided numerous assists.

U-19s  

Savio Nsereko (West Ham)

Ugandan-born Nsereko was snapped up last season from Italian side Brescia by premiership outfit West Ham for a mammoth £9 million. He was the star of the U-19 tournament in the Czech Republic and had a whole host of European clubs vying for his signature. Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola rates him extremely highly and he is expected once again to shine in the forthcoming U-20 World Cup in Egypt which begins in September. 

Richard Sukuta-Pasu (Bayer Leverkusen)

Bayer Leverkusen have long been famed for their ability to bring through young players and they appear to have another one on the way in the form of forward Richard Sukuta-Pasu. His pace and power caused opposing defences all sorts of problems and he scored three goals in the tournament, with one in the semi-final and one in the final. 

U-21s 

Mesut Oezil (Werder Bremen)  

Oezil was earmarked by many before the tournament as Germany’s danger man and he certainly proved to be just that. He was the ‘Man of the Match’ in the final against England and was the creative centre of all Germany’s best attacking moves during the fortnight. Werder Bremen may have lost Brazilian Diego to Juventus, but in Mesut Oezil they look to have a more than adequate replacement.   

Jerome Boateng (Hamburg)  

Jerome Boateng is the younger brother of Tottenham midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, but he looks like he will soon be the one grabbing all the headlines. Kevin-Prince is an attacking midfielder so therefore has always been the one to hog the limelight. When the pair left Hertha Berlin in 2007, Kevin-Prince joined Spurs, while Jerome went to Hamburg.   

However, whereas his brother has struggled, Jerome has gone from strength to strength at HSV and has collected a whole host of new admirers, with Inter and Chelsea reportedly keen on him. He has performed superbly for the U-21s and it is seemingly only a matter of time before Joachim Loew calls him up into the full squad.

Mathew Burt, Goal.com