World Cup: Per Mertesacker lauds Jurgen Klinsmann for building current Germany team
US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann had a successful stint as coach of the German national team, but Klinsmann's quick exit as Bayern Munich boss in 2009 following a tumultuous stretch in charge has remained the prevailing memory among Germans.
Despite that, Germany defender Per Mertesacker says Klinsmann's influence on the current German national team is still apparent.
"He was the first coach to place his trust in a very young generation, and in that respect he was a breath of fresh air for the [German federation]," Mertesacker said in comments published on the German federation's website on Thursday. "We’re still continuing what Jürgen started, even now."
Mertesacker was one of five players from the 2006 World Cup squad, which finished the tournament in third place, to be part of the 2014 team. Philipp Lahm is now captain, and he and Mertesacker, along with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski, made their World Cup debuts in 2006, while all-time World Cup top scorer Miroslav Klose is currently on his fourth World Cup squad for Die Mannschaft.
Mertesacker said because of Klinsmann's role in forming the current German team, the game against the US to conclude both teams' Group G play on June 26 will be all the more notable.
"We’re definitely still influenced by that period," he said, "so it’ll make the match against him and the USA very special."