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Juergen Klinsmann interview: Full text

Juergen Klinsmann


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LONDON, England (CNN) -- CNN World Sport anchor Don Riddell interviewed German football coach Juergen Klinsmann. The following is a full transcript:

Q: Juergen, you were a 10-year-old boy the last time Germany and West Germany hosted the World Cup (1974) and of course they went on to win it, what do you remember about that?

A: The only thing I really remember is watching the game and then running outside after the game to go kick the ball around and then to imitate all the players that were part of that World Cup final: Gerd Mueller, Beckenbauer, we were just screaming the names around and just trying to pretend that we would be in their place.

Q: Did it really capture Germans' imaginations at the time do you think?

A: Well I think it came in a very crucial moment for the country you know there was the oil crisis and the '70s terrorism two years before, the Olympics in Munich that disaster and it was just perfect timing that they had that exceptional team right at the World Cup, when they hosted the World Cup, and looking back in the history of German football every time they won a big World Cup it was at a very special moment. The '54 World Cup was the first time the people got the recognition back after the second World War and felt like they are proud of something you know it brought people back together and you know now we can keep our heads up again. And then '74 as I mentioned and then the 1990 world cup was our team was the team of the reunification you know, so we were the team for both sides of Germany so now, you know throughout the last 16 years, we've melted together. And now comes the next milestone.

Q: The fact that Germany has been so successful over the years that must really keep the pressure on, do you really feel that pressure?

A: Based on history the expectations are simply the highest, it kind of could become a burden for you or it could be something that you are really proud of, you know so I take the second one. I'm really proud of that, I'm really proud that I can guide this German national team to the World Cup in our own country knowing that the expectations are very high and know that everything that you do will have an opposition, no matter what you do you will always find people that will criticize and on the other hand I mean it is a wonderful challenge it is a challenge that only happens once in a life. That is why I took that job and I said to myself and my wife that you know I will really miss out on something very, very special, so I took on that job knowing that there will be times that will be a little bit hectic

Q: The fans and the media are very good at quoting statistics and one of them is that Germany hasn't been the top international team for five years, I mean way before you came on board does that hang like an albatross around the neck?

A: Not at all it just simply shows also that Germany went through a huge transition, we lost a generation of players that is now between 25-32 years old we only have four or five players from that generation who are left: Ballack, Ernst ... basically and then nothing came up through the youth ranks and we paid the price for that over the last years, but now we have a generation coming through 20, 21, 22 year olds that have an amazing future ahead of them, maybe the World Cup this summer comes to early for some of them, but we don't have the choice we have to throw them in there and say lets go for it but certainly looking into the future and looking towards World Cup 2010 South Africa, Germany will be strong again.

Q: I suspect there is more pressure on you and the spotlight is on you as a national coach more than any other manager going into this, everything you do is analysed and perhaps questioned publicly I mean how do you deal with that?

A: I started that job knowing that I wouldn't do everything right, I mean that was really clear and then since things went really wrong in the European Championship in the time before my time came, I knew I had to go a different route and if you go a different route, you have new ideas, you do things differently you will always provoke people because you take the habit away if you take the decisions with people that surround the national team if you take decisions tactical decisions if you implement a new style of play, if you work with the media differently then they were used to it before then you will face problems and I go through those problems because I know we only have one chance to go really far in this World Cup to do it our way to be convinced of what we're doing. We rebuilt the German national team we have a lot of young blood in this national team and we believe in these guys and we know we play at home so I said it recently I said however you criticize us whatever you do right now the moment we start the World Cup in June and the moment we win our first game you know you all will try to jump on board of our train but then the train left. We will continue our road we know it's a risky road because we want to play the attacking style, we want to go forward we don't want to react to what the opponents do so we try to be proactive and we know we are bringing in a lot of young very very good players so we walk on a fine line, but we will get our job done.

Q: Your critics would say its not working at the moment, do you have time before the World Cup to convince them that it is working or that it will work?

A: That is not my job, it's not my job to convince people because its part of our Germany mentality that we put ourselves down before we go into a big event so it will continue till the very first day because it happened last year in the Confederation's Cup, the very same thing, we won in Northern Ireland 4-1 down to 10 men you know and they criticized us like we lost the World Cup and it is a German game that we put things down that we look at things too pessimistic all the time hoping inside that actually the opposite will happen. So people put us down right now actually hoping that when we win the first or the second game in the World Cup then we can experience the opposite so then you create a hype that nobody can control anymore that is what happened last year in the Confederations Cup, it was in the hype after the competition that then we had problems trying to balance out our young players again because we said you were not as bad as they said before the competition but now you are not as good as they make you either. Finding the balance is pretty tough but we will be able to do that.

Q: I guess that some of the criticism wouldn't have been quite so harsh if you had been based in Germany, do you have any regrets about being based in California and having to commute backwards and forwards?

A: No I think it is one of the reasons I am pretty sure I am doing a very good job with my team is that I fly back and forth is that I can kind of reflect and look at things from outside the box it is very untypical and unusual for Germans and with traditional thinking people you will always face some problems but it is a huge advantage it is an advantage to be in a different country and look at things differently, to balance things out, the communication is the same I call the players on the phone I email or whatever communications tools you use is the same would be the same if I was here in Germany but they can't grab you physically the media can't grab you physically they say that tomorrow you might be in Munich so we want to see we want to be part of his daily life you can't be part of my daily life because I have a job that I have to get done so at the end of the day I'm not going to waste my time with you.

Q: It's not just them, it was Franz Beckenbauer the other day who said you should have been back in the meeting with them. Do you have a good relationship with him?

A: I have a very good relationship with Franz Beckenbauer knowing how he reacts at certain moments, he is very emotional and he makes some comments and then he reflects afterwards that was a bit exaggerated now, so it took us two minutes the other day to clear that topic. Sure I should have been at the Fifa workshop for example, but I had personal reasons for not being there and looking back saying that it was a mistake for me not being there I would take the same decision because the personal situation has higher priority than a workshop.

Q: Just tell me about the strengths of your team and your players -- a lot of people have looked at Michael Ballack as one.

A: Oh yeah we've been, he's our leader, Michael Ballack is our leader, he's our leader, and we're looking forward to the World Cup because that's his stage, that's the stage, the dawn of Zidane, of Shearer, Shevchenko, is the World Cup and whatever you do in your club team and winning European championships it's nice it's great, but the real stage is the World Cup so we have big hopes in Michael that the timing is the right one.

Q: How would you describe him as a player?

A: He is basically a perfect player because he is both footed he is incredibly strong in the air, he has wonderful body language, his movements are very smooth and he is a great communicator within the team that is why we made him the captain because he sits down there he looks after the young players he is very balanced, very calm he's the right player at the right time but he needs that stage of the World Cup to prove it to everybody.

Q: There is that statistic of not being a top team for so many years, and the U.S.A. is ranked fifth right now do you think a win against them would change some of the criticism, do you consider them a top team?

A: I consider them a top team being in the top ten in the world, whether its five or eight it doesn't really matter because they continuously improved over the last 15 years they are now qualified the fifth time for the World Cup they are b eating Mexico, their big rival constantly and they almost kicked Germany out of the World Cup in Korea so they are a team that you have to take very seriously and have a lot of respect for them. I know them quite well living there I know the coach quite well and they are on the right path I think they could be one of the surprises in this summer's World Cup.

Q: And just one last question, what would you be happy with this summer. Is it a win or nothing else for Germany?

A: I mean because I have won the World Cup already I would like to repeat that but it is really the team performance in general, how they will do, how they get the crowd behind them, how proud they make this country with that World Cup, and the country would be the proudest by winning it.

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