For two years, Joachim Löw has silently stood in the shadows of a more effervescent Jürgen Klinsmann. Now, the 46-year old Swabian has been handed the reins and his goals are as ambitious as his predecessor's.
Löw and Köpke will have to do without Klinsmann (l to r)
Jürgen Klinsmann returned to the German national team in August 2004, and announced that within two years, Germany would again be at the top of the soccer world and win the World Cup in their own country. This came after the disastrous Euro 2004 performance in which Germany crashed out in the first round.
It was an incredibly ambitious goal that almost incredibly panned out.
Standing next to him the whole time was his mild-mannered assistant, Joachim 'Jogi' Löw. Directly before every national game, it was Löw who presented the line-up on German television. He bore the brunt of the media pressure before matches. Klinsmann enjoyed the laurels, or suffered the indignity of difficult questions afterwards.
New coach, same goals -- top titles
And just like Klinsmann did at his first press conference as national coach in August 2004, when he said Germany would win the World Cup, Löw had similar words: "We want to become European champions (in 2008)."
After the third-place finish in Germany, the bravado in such a statement is naturally missing. Klinsmann has "cleared the path" that the team has to continue following, Löw said during a news conference in Frankfurt on Wednesday.
"Only by doing this can we establish ourselves amongst the best teams in the world," Löw said.
Feels exhausted like Klinsmann
One of Löw's first tasks is to find an assistant. The coaching and management staff is, for the most part, already there. Oliver Bierhoff will be the manager. Andreas Köpke will be the goalkeeper coach. But the question as to who will be second-in-command remains open.
"I will take a few days in peace to think about (who I will hire)," he said.
Löw will now move to the center of cameramen's attention
Löw has coached Stuttgart and Karlsruhe in Germany, as well as Fenerbahce Istanbul and Adanaspor in Turkey, and FC Tirol Innsbruck and Austria Vienna in Austria.
During those assignments he won the title in Austria and a German Cup with Stuttgart. Yet those honors probably don't compare much with the experience of the past month. They were not nearly as mentally and physically exhausting as this World Cup. He plans to first go on vacation to regain some strength -- just like Klinsmann. But he knows the players, particularly the younger ones, also have gone through a mind-numbing experience.
"It will be important to make sure the young players don't fall into a hole," Löw said. "We noticed last year after the Confederations Cup that it isn't always so easy to have a good start to the season after such a strenuous tournament."
"Most attractive soccer in the tournament"
The time for relaxation will be short-lived for Löw. Once he has found an assistant, his staff will have to prepare for Löw's first friendly match as coach in August. It will be against a familiar opponent, Sweden, whom Germany knocked out of the World Cup in the round of 16.
Newcomer Podolski (l) provided offensive power
That victory was symbolic of the new style of soccer that Klinsmann had injected into the team. Within 12 minutes, Newcomer of the Tournament, Lukas Podolski, had put Germany up 2-0 in a frenetic start, sending the crowd in Munich into pandemonium. German soccer fans had a team to be proud of.
"They (the team) played the most beautiful and attractive soccer in this World Cup," he said.
Now, a nation hopes that Jogi Löw will continue what Klinsmann started.