Actually, the field for the 1990 world champion was already set - but then there was a colossal debacle against a rousing Danish national team. Germany lost the final of the European Championship against a likeable team with heart - and a penchant for cola, beer and cigarettes!
"I find no consolation!" After the final defeat of the German national team at the European Championships in 1992 against Denmark, national coach Berti Vogts sat slumped in his chair at the press conference and could not believe what had just happened to his team on the pitch in Gothenburg's Ullevi Stadium. The DFB team went into the final on June 26, 1992 against the Danes as the clear favourites. And now there was total disillusionment with the successor to world champion coach Franz Beckenbauer. When Vogts had collected himself again the next day, he spoke in an unfamiliar tone: "Anyone who doesn't have the attitude has no business with us!"
In the opinion of their national coach, the German team had failed because of the recruitment. In a final of a major tournament? Indeed, that raised questions that were uncomfortable at the time - and the answers to which the press would continue to concern themselves for a few weeks after the tournament was over. Because even during the ongoing European Championship, one man in particular had made headlines. Four years later he would become one of the heroes of England's European Championship win. But now he was the idiot. But more on that later.
And what did the final opponents of the Germans, the Danes, do? They had flown through the tournament at supersonic speed as a great figurehead - because they actually wouldn't have been there at the 1992 European Championships in Sweden. But then Yugoslavia was excluded because of the civil war in the Balkans and everything had to happen quickly. Later it was said that Denmark had become European champions straight from the beach. And indeed, the national team players were traveling all over Europe and the world when UEFA excluded Yugoslavia from the tournament and Denmark were to move up as runners-up in the group.
In retrospect, the legend was even born that the Danish coach Richard Möller-Nielsen is said to have sent search parties to the most beautiful beaches in the world to collect his players. No matter what those involved did, it worked! Although Denmark tried to postpone the start of the European Championship, when the whistle sounded for the first game in Sweden, the Danish squad was well filled. There was only one problem: the lack of preparation time!
But Denmark's national team made up for it in a special way, as former HSV midfielder John Jensen revealed to the journalists with a grin: "With us you have to drink beer or cola and smoke to play." And so, at the time, not a few on-site observers expected that the Danes would have to run out of breath with this lifestyle at the latest in the final. But instead of the men from the north, the Germans presented themselves as "air number".
"They played with heart, you have to acknowledge that," said the German midfield star of AS Roma, Thomas "Icke" Häßler - and blew the same horn that the national coach had blown. It's just funny that the German team had so little to oppose the Danish "champagne football" (Brian Laudrup about his team) in the final. After all, Berti Vogts himself had previously praised the European Championship successors in the highest tones: "The Danes flouted all the tactical rules. As long as they carried their feet, they marched in a way that is unparalleled at this European Championship They are at work with fire and heart - I call them the Southerners of Scandinavia."
Actually, the German team should have been warned about the Danes, but in the final the spectators in Gothenburg's Ullevi Stadium and in front of the TV sets at home never had the feeling that the DFB team were on the pitch with all their senses and strength . And so national keeper Bodo Illgner summed up the simple formula for success of the "sympathetic Danes" (quote after the final Guido Buchwald): "The strongest-willed team became European champions."
A player who had previously been criticized both internally and in the media was no longer in the final. At the request of the team council around captain Andreas Brehme, the national coach had taken Andreas Möller out of the starting eleven in the semi-final against the Swedes. After the 3-2 win, defender Guido Buchwald celebrated: "Finally there's a team on the pitch. It was late, but not too late, to pull the emergency brake." And goalkeeper Bodo Illgner added: "We have enough players with heart."
However, after the final was dismantled by a rousing performance by the Danish national team, it became apparent that the problems of the German team lay a little deeper than they had hoped, even after the short-lived flash in the pan. And so the "capable" national coach Berti Vogts unexpectedly got caught in the crossfire of criticism. It wasn't until four years later that what Bodo Illgner would have wished for exactly thirty years ago would have worked out: "With a win we could have helped the national coach enormously so that he also had the reputation in public that he earned." And that's exactly what happened in 1996, not least because of Andreas Möller, who played big at this tournament at times.