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Germany versus Ghana pits brother against brother

Wednesday crucial match features a meeting between the "bad" and the "good" Boatengs. Kevin-Prince plays for Ghana and is reviled in Germany while half-brother Jerome is one of Joachim Loew's model charges.

Kevin-Prince and Jerome Boateng

Kevin-Prince, left, is seen as the villain, Jerome as the good guy

You somehow knew this had to happen.

Ever since Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng injured Germany captain Michael Ballack in the English FA Cup final in May, there's been the prospect that Germany's fortunes in Group D would come down to the result of their match against the Black Stars.

Not only was Kevin-Prince born and raised in Berlin, his younger half-brother Jerome is a defender for the German national squad.

After the Ballack foul, the German press excoriated 23-year-old Kevin-Prince, giving him the nickname "Der Uebeltreter," a word that could be translated as "the evil stomper" and that plays on the term for malefactor.

21-year-old Jerome, on the other hand, is one of a host of up-and-coming young talents Germany is happy to have in their squad.

The stark contrast between the two often appears to be too media-perfect to be real. But in many respects the two Boatengs are indeed polar opposites.

Divergent paths

Portsmouth's Kevin-Prince Boateng celebrates

Kevin-Prince is seldom at a loss for words

Both brothers learned their football in Berlin, and both began their playing careers with the capital's biggest club, Hertha. But that's where the similarities end.

Kevin-Prince is a prodigiously gifted midfielder with a short fuse and the swaggering mannerisms of a self-styled gangster. One of his 15 tattoos reads "The world is yours" - a quote from the film "Scarface."

Such was his talent that he won 41 caps for German youth national teams. But after a series of disciplinary issues, Hertha sold him to English side Tottenham for 7 million euros ($8.6 million). He failed to establish himself in the Premier League, dropped off the radar of the German selectors and decided to play for Ghana, his father's home country, in 2009.

Jerome was a bit slower out of the blocks. The somewhat shy defender's career first really took off when he moved from Berlin to Hamburg in 2007.

He quickly established himself in that club's starting eleven and was capped for the national side in 2009, playing a role in Germany's qualification for the World Cup.

Premiership side Manchester City rated him highly enough to pay a transfer fee of an estimated 12.5 million euros ($15.4) to bring him in from Hamburg for next season.

Jerome is unlikely to face Kevin-Prince on the pitch on Wednesday since as a right back, he now serves mainly as Philipp Lahm's potential replacement. But there has been fraternal conflict enough in the weeks preceding the Ghana match.

Kevin talking, but not to Jerome

Jerome Boateng celebrates

Jerome is one of the top-rated defenders in Europe

After Kevin-Prince took out Ballack in what appeared to be a revenge foul, Jerome told a Berlin newspaper: "Kevin too is a human being who makes mistakes, but he didn't do it on purpose."

The mild criticism those words implied didn't sit well with the older sibling, however, and the two have broken off personal contact.

And on the eve of the Ghana match, Kevin-Prince broke weeks of self-imposed media silence to lash out at old enemies.

"I don't care if Germany gets booted out of the tournament," he told reporters in South Africa. "We want to win and move on. If we score a goal, we'll do a nice little dance for our German colleagues."

He also had some choice words for the German football association, the DFB.

"I'm glad the German functionaries who always criticized me will now have the chance to watch and form an opinion of me in the World Cup," Kevin-Prince said. "Maybe they'll realize some day that they too were wrong in how they treated me."

These are hardly statements that will rehabilitate him in eyes of the German public. Meanwhile, Jerome has been saying the right things about his home country.

"Above all I'm a German," Jerome told reporters. "I've identified with Germany my whole life."

He also confirmed that not all was cordial in the Boateng clan.

"He's my brother and always will be, and I wish him the best, but at the moment we've got nothing to say to one another," Jerome said. "That's just the way it is."

The Germany-Ghana match hardly needs any soap-opera drama to boost the excitement. But fans will be curious to see whether Joachim Loew uses Jerome on Wednesday - and what sort of sparks might fly if his brother Kevin-Prince is still on the pitch.

Author: Jefferson Chase
Editor. Michael Lawton

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