Kfter retired, Rudi Völler is already back. The former national striker (world champion 1990), DFB team boss (runner-up at the 2002 World Cup) and longtime soccer boss at Bayer Leverkusen does not let friends down. That is why he has taken on the task assigned to him by the German Football Association of preparing the national team for success in the 2024 European Championship in his own country.
The 62-year-old Hessian took over the title “Director” from his predecessor. But unlike Oliver Bierhoff, Völler is not expected to exercise the authority to set guidelines or to shape the future with far-reaching concepts and strategies. Völler should only do what he was created for like no other: on the one hand, with his healthy football mind, his experience and his instincts, advise and support national coach Hansi Flick and the national players. And on the other hand, which is almost more important: to anchor the national team again in the hearts of the German football people with its extraordinary popularity, its down-to-earthness and authenticity.
What Völler will do – and not do
The DFB involuntarily documented the alienation caused by the failures of previous tournaments and Bierhoff’s artificial marketing measures this week. The association reported that fans had voted Niclas Füllkrug’s goal in the World Cup 1-1 win over Spain as national team goal of the year. Then came the absolute number: The Bremen striker was able to unite 2,500 of just 5,000 votes cast.
Until the European Championships, Völler will not establish a supposedly promotional nickname for the national team, as Bierhoff did with the term “the team”, which was then only felt to be presumptuous. Völler will not make any suggestions as to which technical aids could be used to tease out the last tenth of a percentage point of performance from the players. With his jovial nature and integrity, Völler will create a feel-good atmosphere for the team and offer coach Flick a resonance surface for his sporting ideas.
Thanks to Völler, the fans’ goodwill is guaranteed for the national team until the kick-off of the first European Championship game. Because the new director is one of yours. Not just because they made him that way, as his nickname “Tante Käthe” and his signature song “There is only one Rudi Völler” put it. At the funeral service for football idol Hermann Nuber, he once again spoke from the heart of the football people: “Nuber’s ability to suffer was not demonstrated by all teams at the World Cup in Qatar.” It was clear to everyone that he meant the DFB selection.