Germany's Youth Can Conquer Europe In 2012

HAMBURG, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 12: Marco Reus in action during the German National team training session at Imtech Arena on November 12, 2011 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)

On international week, Ross Dunbar looks at just how Germany have become one of the best International sides in the world.

Just four places are still up for grabs at the European Championships next summer with the final play-offs being decided on Tuesday. Germany are one of the favourites to win the competition in Poland and Ukraine and they cruised during qualification with 10 wins from 10 games.

Joachim Low's ‘New Germany' is structured around the likes of Mario Gotze, Thomas Muller and Mesut Ozil who have flourished since the last European Championships in 2008. German football has quickly become a role model in the last decade for developing talent and players such as Marco Reus will certainly shine in the next few months.

The nationalmannschaft's disappointing performance at Euro 2000 in Holland and Belgium stimulated a re-think amongst the German authorities. Comparisons with European neighbours Holland and France were quickly made but rather than copy the "Ajax-model" or the Clairefontaine setup, Germany took it one step further.

Christian Seifert, The DFL's chief officer, told the official Bundesliga website the DFL's first steps after the disappointment in Euro 2000.

He said: "Clubs have pooled their investments into the infrastructure in particular. Training centres were built, the existing ones were modernised or enlarged, highly skilled coaches were employed, residential schools were setup, and much more."

According to the DFL's latest publication, 52.4% of Bundesliga players have been trained at academies in Germany with 20.4% playing with the club were they broke through. At the 36 professional clubs, there are 282 teams from U23 level to U12 with over 5,000 players currently involved.

Investment in to Bundesliga academies has increased on a yearly basis from 2002/2003 with apporixmately £500m invested in total. By the end of 2011/2012, it is expected that nearly £90m will have been invested during the season. The academy link with schools is something which was pioneered successfully by the Dutch FA and the DFL have based a large part of their academy programme on schools.

All of the national training centres in Germany, which have UEFA qualified coaches employed at each, are closely networked with local schools. Andreas Rettig, the Chairman of the Academies Committee, believes that young footballers need to find the right balance with education.

He told the Bundesliga website: "The interaction between education and football is, and will remain, an important theme. It must be possible in Germany that a young footballer can pursue a Bundesliga career whilst at the same time doing his A levels. It is an absolutely fundamental problem that physical education lessons at school are being reduced more and more and that, as a result, children and young people are getting less and less exercise."

The Academy committee is chaired by Andreas Rettig, who is also the general manager of FC Augsburg, two representatives from the DFL, three reps from the DFB and then three club representatives from Werder, Bayern and Leverkusen.

After over a decade, the German national team is beginning to reap the benefits of the terrific youth structure in the Bundesliga. From the squad which drew 3-3 with Ukraine on Friday, only two players play their club football outside of the Bundesliga - Ozil and Sami Khedira, both of whom feature for Real Madrid

It is one of the attractive things about the German top flight and it is no surprise that the Bundesliga is the most-attended and best supported league in European football.

And in the national setup, confidence is high ahead of the tournament in Poland and Ukraine and the Germans will be keen to add to their three European Championship victories.

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