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Euro 2024: Emotional German head coach applauds team effort

July 6, 2024

German head coach Julian Nagelsmann struggled to hold back tears after his team's exit from the European Championship, saying: "We would have liked to have given the fans more. We would have liked to have won the title."

Germany manager Julian Nagelsmann, seen here with seen here with Toni Kroos, lamented his team's exit at the hands of Spain at Euro 2024
Germany supporters stayed behind at Stuttgart Arena to applaud the team's effortsImage: Laci Perenyi/IMAGO

The manager of Germany's national football squad Julian Nagelsmann on Saturday paid tribute to his team's performance at Euro 2024 after their 2-1 extra-time elimination by Spain in the quarter-finals.

Germany came from a goal down in Stuttgart on Friday evening to send the match into extra time when Florian Wirtz scored an 89th-minute equalizer.

The German side then had a penalty claim denied before conceding a Mikel Merino goal in the 119th minute.

Upset but hopeful: German team exits Euro 2024

What did Nagelsmann say?

Nagelsmann noted that the German team's "belief in ourselves has returned," a reference to almost a decade of failures at major tournaments. During a tearful news conference, the manager said the team's performances had also bridged gaps with often-skeptical fans.

“I said we’d need the people of the country behind us, because we know we simply weren’t good at the last tournaments, that we as a team, as a federation, didn’t give much back to the people of the country from a sporting perspective,” an emotional Nagelsmann told reporters at the squad's base camp in the Bavarian village of Herzogenaurach. 

“And from the last matches, I think the fans realized that we want to achieve something and change things," he said. "The faith has grown, (the fans) believe in us again," he said, adding: "When we see the videos of fans, it's emotional. We would have liked to have given the supporters even more."

Nagelsmann promised that the team would "try to reinforce things" following their exit, but that a "completely new start" was unnecessary ahead of the UEFA Nations League in September. The German team also left their base camp at Herzogenaurach on Saturday.

German national team coach Julian Nagelsmann covers his tears during a news conference, a day after the squad was eliminated from Euro 2024, in Herzzogenaurach, Bavaria on July 6th, 2024
Nagelsmann was visibly tearful and his voice cracked during a news conference on SaturdayImage: Federico Gambarini/dpa/picture alliance

High praise from top German football officials

Sporting director Rudi Völler and German FA president Bernd Neuendorf saluted Nagelsmann and his team.

Völler called the performances "remarkable," adding that Germany was returning to the elite in world football.

"It was our wish to play our way to the top of the world, and I think we've succeeded," he said, adding that the team "is not quite where we want to be because we would have then advanced another round or two."

Völler added that the pool of "good and young players" will continue in this way in the Nations League and next year's qualifying for the 2026 World Cup, which will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Neuendorf, meanwhile, said the national squad had "suffered a defeat but didn't fail."

"We can all be proud of what happened on and off the pitch," he added, saying the team won back the hearts of the fans in outstanding fashion.

Neuendorf said that Nagelsmann had "redefined the coaching role" with his "unbelievable energy and spirit."

Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann comforts midfielder Tony Kroos following the team's exit from Euro 2024, in Stuttgart, Germany, on July 5th 2024
Friday's game against Spain was midfielder Tony Kroos' last match following a 27-year careerImage: Tom Weller/dpa/picture alliance

Who is Julian Nagelsmann?

Nagelsmann took over in September after Hansi Flick became the first national team coach in German history to be fired due to disappointing performances, including being knocked out at the group stage of two successive World Cups and the last-16 of the Euro 2021 tournament.

Nagelsmann, a former coach of Bundesliga sides Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig, has managed to turn around the team's fortunes, bringing in a host of new players and dropping several big names.

Initially appointed for a nine-month contract, Nagelsmann has now extended his deal as head coach by two years.

Reaching the Euro 2024 quarterfinals was Germany's best result at a big tournament since reaching the semis at Euro 2016.

Hopes had been building among German football fans that the national side could achieve overall victory in the tournament, which is taking place on home turf.

Germany is hosting Euro 2024 with matches played at 10 stadia across the country until July 14.

mm/rm (AFP, dpa)