Fort Lauderdale: When Juergen Klinsmann was appointed head coach, US football got much more than German know-how—they signed up to a cosmopolitan philosophy that the former striker is now putting into practice.
The man charged with producing a 2014 World Cup team Americans can be proud of is a wordly figure who has assembled a multinational staff to work with a group of players from varying backgrounds. After training on Tuesday, Klinsmann spoke at length with reporters about what he wants to see from those players ahead of this week’s friendlies against Honduras in Miami on Saturday and Ecuador in New Jersey on Tuesday.
The discussion revealed a coach who believes in helping players grow and allowing a team culture to evolve. He enthuses about the globalized nature of the modern game and the chance he has to shape a new US side.
New boss:Klinsmann is gearing up for the World Cup qualifiers. Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
“Every cycle of a team, no matter what national team you are talking about in the world, always goes through a path of redefining its leaders, redefining its chemistry, and this is now the process we are going through in the next few months,” said the 47-year-old.
Klinsmann is experimenting with different support staff ahead of next year’s qualifying campaign. His line-up for this week’s games includes Spaniard Javier Perez and Mexican-American Martin Vasquez as assistant coaches, English goalkeeping coach Chris Woods and Japanese fitness guru Masa Sakihana.
Former Germany coach Klinsmann is himself cosmopolitan—the son of a baker from Botnang in Stuttgart in southern Germany, he lives with his wife Debbie, a Chinese-American, in Huntingdon Beach, California.
The well-travelled 1990 World Cup winner settled in the US after a distinguished playing career with Inter Milan, Bayern Munich, Tottenham Hotspur and Monaco, after cutting his teeth in his hometown with VfB Stuttgart.
Those experiences of different cultures inform his attitude to life as well as the game, he said. “You learn to take people the way they are, not the way you want them to be. That’s the biggest lesson—you develop that tolerance towards people and respect,” he said. There are signs that Klinsmann prefers players who are prepared to move around to better themselves.
DaMarcus Beasley, now playing in Mexico with Puebla, has been recalled to the team and Klinsmann’s rationale for bringing back a player whose international career had faded during his time with Rangers in Scotland, gives a clue to his mindset.
“He completely moved out of his comfort zone. Coming back from Europe, he got his act together and made the step going down to Mexico and proving himself there. This shows you his character and his willingness to deal with different environments and difficult moments, so I think you see a far more mature DaMarcus Beasley than you saw a few years ago,” he said.
You won’t hear a bad word from the players about Klinsmann’s predecessor, American Bob Bradley, but it is clear that despite a draw and two defeats in Klinsmann’s opening three friendlies, the players are enjoying the German’s approach to the game. Goalkeeper Tim Howard said: “Every coach brings their own individuality to the team. As people, Bob and Klinsmann are different personalities and that shows in the way of coaching.
“He (Klinsmann) has an interesting philosophy and lives his life in that same open-minded way. The way he looks at the game, looks at life, and also what he has accomplished over the years as a player and a coach, makes for a really good mix—he certainly has got our attention and respect.”
Klinsmann tips his hat to what he learnt playing under some great coaches—Italian Giovanni Trapattoni, German Franz Beckenbauer, Frenchman Arsène Wenger and Argentine César Luis Menotti—and says the aim in bringing in specialists from different backgrounds is to give his players new perspectives.
“What I am trying to do is inspire the players always from different directions. I want to work with people who inspire me as well and teach me as well. Because, really, no one knows it all”.Reuters
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