Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius can add winning the German Football Ambassador player’s prize to the list of accomplishments in his young career. Globe-trotting coaches Otto Pfister and Gert Engels were also honored.
Football is about much more than just getting results on the pitch. Liverpool keeper Loris Karius and coaches Otto Pfister and Gert Engels were all named German Football Ambassadors for their sporting and social commitments abroad on Tuesday night, in the Foreign Ministry building in Berlin.
Football bringing people and cultures together
Karius, who was brought to England by Jürgen Klopp, is having quite the year. He’s starting in the Premier League, is Champions League final-bound and, on Tuesday, he was voted winner of the player’s prize - which has a long-running association with Deutsche Welle - by the public. Not bad for a 24-year-old.
While Karius could not attend due to the ongoing football season, he said, “football has the power to bring people and cultures together,” in a video acceptance speech.
Pfister and Engels: Two of Germany’s top Coaching Ambassadors
The honorary prize was awarded to storied coach Otto Pfister by Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who praised Pfister, 80, for his, “respectful openness for other people and cultures.” Currently coach of the Afghanistan national team, Pfister’s career has spanned nearly six decades and seen him work in 19 countries on three continents. His selflessness was on full display as he immediately dedicated the award to all of the players, staff and colleagues who helped him achieve success over the years.
Gert Engels, who has been a coach and football educator since 1990, won the coach’s prize. Engels coached in Japan for nearly 30 years, and his ‘Soccer Life’ football school continues to support cultural exchange between Germany and Japan. "It’s important to get on with other people, to be accepting and tolerant,” he said, before adding that he tries to focus on the commonalities, not the differences, between people through his work. Engels most recently coached Mozambique from 2011-2013.
Eschweiler inducted in Hall of Fame
Former referee Walter Eschweiler joined Uwe Seeler as the second member of the German Football Ambassador Hall of Fame, due to both his work in the game and his extensive and ongoing efforts as a sporting diplomat. Though it may not initially seem like it, diplomacy and sport go hand in hand, and Foreign Minister Maas emphasized football’s unique ability to open doors and build bridges between people everywhere.