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Klinsmann: Dad gave me the chance to call it 'my game'
by Mike Woitalla, July 30th, 2011 7:45PM

TAGS:  germany, men's national team


[SOCCER AMERICA Q&A] In an interview conducted last year, Juergen Klinsmann shared his opinions on how the world's game has evolved, the fondest memories of his playing career, and who his biggest influences were.

SOCCER AMERICA: Are you happy that you played in your era, and not today?

Yes, because the professional soccer world today is far more complex than 20 years ago. It has become a huge business with some good sides to it but, also, some very difficult areas for the players to deal with.

SA: Are players today paid too much?

No, because the money side is a result of the global interest in soccer and, therefore, it is not different to the revenue streams that drive NBA and NFL salaries in the US.

SA: What is your fondest memory from your playing days?

It was nice winning a World Cup and European Championship with Germany, but the biggest memories are those of meeting people all over the world and the chance to play in different countries for different teams.

SA: How different was your era from today?

I think a lot different. During most of my playing career, teams in Europe could only play with a limited number of foreign players. So teams were very domestically oriented. This all changed with the Bosman decision in 1995 and the laws implemented by the European Community. Now you have often teams with only a few "homegrown" players. You only have to look at my old team Inter Milan, which won the [2010] Champions League with very few Italian players in the squad.

SA: If you could re-run your career, would you have done anything differently?

Certainly you make mistakes along your way, and you could avoid them a second time around. But, overall, I was very fortunate to play a career with no big injuries and a lot of exciting moments.

SA: Which players in the past 50 years have you most admired?

JUERGEN KLINSMANN: Pele, Maradona, Cruyff, Van Basten, Zidane, just to name a few of them.

SA: Is soccer better today than your era?

JUERGEN KLINSMANN: Yes, it's faster and, therefore, more demanding tactically, technically, and physically.

SA: Who was the biggest influence on your career?

JUERGEN KLINSMANN: I was very lucky to have worked with a lot of great coaches, but my biggest influence was always my Dad, who just let me play and enjoy the game as a little boy and gave me the chance to call it "my game"!

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: July 31, 2011 at 4:39 p.m.
    This guy speaks well and sends a message to all. I hope to see him turn things around but J think it will be extremely hard with current rules and laws in place. Its all about the wins at all ages in USA. How do you change that without changing laws?
  1. Paolo Jacobs
    commented on: August 1, 2011 at 6:28 a.m.
    I think we in the US are very fortunate to have Jurgen K. as our head manager/gaffer...He has a big understanding of the world's game...Plus he knows the American player... Hopefully, we're in for a good ride the next 3 years!
  1. cony konstin
    commented on: August 1, 2011 at 8:04 a.m.
    I wished Bradly good luck when he took over but US Soccer never changed. I wish Klinnsman good luck but I doubt anything will change. Why? I say this because as long as we do not have radical change everything will stay status quo. Just like our nation has been for many years STATUS QOU!!! We need a radical change in US Soccer. First of all the Federation can not mandate a thing because soccer is completely helter skelter. Everyone calls it free enterprise. I call it a joke. Until the federation controls all soccer we will continue to be status quo. REVOLUTION and not an international US national coach is going to do what needs to be done in the US. I have nothing against klinnsman or Bradly or any other coach. What I am against is STATUS QUO!!! I believe the American people are sick of the STATUS QOU and really would like to see real courage and vision to bring down STATUS QOU.
  1. Soccer innovations
    commented on: August 1, 2011 at 8:44 a.m.
    I met Juergen Klinnsman at a soccer convention shortly after his playing retirement. Nobody recognized him! A very down to earth and friendly superstar. Viel Gluck und Alles Gute Juergen. Ein USA/Deutcher Freund.
  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: August 1, 2011 at 9:33 a.m.
    We need more of this kind of thinking. Good luck Juergen "I was very lucky to have worked with a lot of great coaches, but my biggest influence was always my Dad, who just let me play and enjoy the game as a little boy and gave me the chance to call it "my game"!"
  1. Amos Annan
    commented on: August 1, 2011 at 10:59 a.m.
    Have no idea what Cony Konstin is asking for by asking for "revolution" and bringing down "status quo". Sounds completely unrealistic. Never going to happen. Money is the driver.
  1. Amos Annan
    commented on: August 1, 2011 at 11:06 a.m.
    Here is the most important thing Klinsmann said about US soccer: "You have the fact that it's mostly organized soccer, when we know that the best players in the world come out of unorganized events". Americans don't get it... you can't get really creative players through more youth organization. But you do create more income for adults.
  1. David Sirias
    commented on: August 1, 2011 at 12:17 p.m.
    As Amos makes clear, JK "gets it." His philoshy of player development is mainstream and modern. The USA is generations behind at least in mindset and structural youth development. But not to worry, the learnaing curve is not as steep here as one might think because of the prevelance of soccer on tv and the internet, our massive population , and stong immigrant heritage. Millions of kids are now kicking balls against walls rather than playing basketball and baseball. It is just a matter of the Federation to set up free youth play areas in underserved socio-econimic areas and have professionals keep an out for talent. Eventually, the kids who are identified with be brought into MLS academies. The other kids who can pay to play will at least be playing in organizations that stress the acquiring of skill and not winning trophies. That is the future. Those organizations that disagree will be shunned. The USA men can be a true top ten team in a decade if it keeps its on eyes on the prize. And the women can halt their decade long decline.....JK is the perfect leader for this revolution.
  1. Tyler Dennis
    commented on: August 1, 2011 at 1:27 p.m.
    @ Amos... and that point of view is nieve. In a world where soccer is the center of the universe, unorganized play works. When you grandpa,dad, uncle, brother, cousin all played, play, eat sleep soccer then yes, unorganized soccer works. Guess what? Won't work here because parents will find something else if it isn't organized... is Klinsman going to change that? Is he going to inject soccer passion into a society that doesn't know what that means? Is he going to make my grandfather, a lover of NASCAR into a soccer aficionado, or my Dad, a baseball fanatic into a soccer hooligan? So, if we want to create soccer players, they need to be in an organized environment... how that organized environment is run, will make the difference.
  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: August 1, 2011 at 4:26 p.m.
    Amos and Tyler are both right. Soccer does need to be a way of living to get top world talent. The system in plcae has to change for this to start to happen. We have to put the money in players at all ages by being able to sign underage players and bond then to contracts. Right now the money is in winning at ages U8 and up. This goes against player development. So. Money gets things done.
  1. David Huff
    commented on: August 1, 2011 at 7:43 p.m.
    I have not felt this good about the USMNT program since 2002, plenty of hope and optimism that necessary changes will be in the works the next few years ahead. Football's Berlin Wall has fallen, welkommen Klinsmann! Klinsmann uber alles!! Sehr gut! :-)
  1. Brian Racer
    commented on: August 2, 2011 at 9:37 p.m.
    There are a lot of good perspectives and it encouraging to think the discussion about turning youth soccer development around could get a jolt by the signing of Klinsmann. There are hopeful signs. I hope all of you have seen the youth development curriculum that Claudio Reyna unveiled in May. Excellent stuff. And free! I am the soccer director for a non-profit youth league in MD and had 27 youth coaches in front of me last evening. We are doing our best to set the pace in our community, by adopting the new curriculum and philosophy but it will take persistence. And I'm working with people for whom money is not the driving force. The excessive mindset of Americans that "more, and more equals more and better," makes it hard for us to accept the reality that in some things "less is more." The truth is change scares people--even if it is good change.

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