When Germany failed to emerge from their group at Euro 2004, intelligent, patriotic individuals looked to rescue the team.
Wise heads at the Deutscher Fussball-Bund worked with the Bundesliga clubs to foster talent through academies, not duelling with the paymasters as the FA does with the all-powerful Premier League.
The then national coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, sought improved fitness checks on German internationals at their clubs. Clubs were encouraged to pick local talent. Klinsmann, his assistant Joachim Loew and the DF-B worked with club coaches to establish what football the national team should play, eventually reaching the conclusion of a fast, technical game, the type that ripped Brazil to shreds in Belo Horizonte.
A footballing curriculum was created which Bundesliga clubs bought into. Players were nurtured also through the Under-21s, inculcating them with an attacking philosophy that Klinsmann’s successor with the senior team, Loew, has maintained.
So Germany were building for the future, for nights like these in Belo Horizonte when they dismantled the hosts’ and favourites’ defence. Germany’s fans stayed inside Estadio Mineirao long after the final whistle, savouring the moment, although it was more to dow with a police edict in case the locals turned nasty. Nonsense.
The Brazilian fans here were keen to celebrate the sort of beautiful, winning football they themselves consider a birthright. They were more than accommodating to German guests as Belo Horizonte’s attention turned from the stadium to the city’s nocturnal gathering points. There was no animosity to the victors, simply respect.
They had heard Loew talk of the long-term project that had been required. Brazil themselves have embarked on a long-term building plan, a point Luis Felipe Scolari emphasised when pointing to the young nature of his squad and looking to 2018. Yet their plan is hardly as advanced as the Germans’.
The Germans take their football seriously, take their debate about the game seriously, and their discussions about solutions seriously, and enact change properly.
It has taken time, taking a procedure which historians term “the inevitability of gradualness”, incremental steps towards a stated goal. The Germans scoured the land for the best prospects, bringing in the offspring of “gastarbeiter”, guest workers who had arrived from other countries.
Many of Loew’s stars worked through the Under-21s, developing into a force like Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil. Throughout, there was a synergy between clubs and country, such a contrast to Premier League and England. Clubs were urged to give youngsters a chance. Players were also encouraged to hone their talent overseas, further developing them as responsibility-takers.
Germany are not overnight sensations. “I remember the 2006 semi-final,’’ reflected Loew. “It was an enormous heartbreak. We had that in 2006 against Italy when we lost in the last minute (of extra time). We know how Scolari, Brazil and the people of Brazil feel.’’
Germany kept their nerve, kept developing talent. They were hugely dignified in victory, consoling the stunned Brazilians. They said all the right things.
“We delivered a marvellous performance but we're here to become world champions, and we're not world champions yet,’’ acknowledged Toni Kroos. “That's the feeling in the dressing room: we have a tough task ahead still.” But Germany have been preparing for this moment since 2004. It is hard to see them letting it slip now.
The president of the DF-B, Wolfgang Niersbach, described the 7-1 as “a historic day for German football”. He added: “Sensational, like a fairytale are all too weak expressions. That was football from another galaxy. Now we want to do the next step. We cant go crazy now – even if I would like. Now we have to get the fourth star.”
Denoting another World Cup - and also celebrating the hard work the DF-B and the Bundesliga have done in developing this winning generation.