Auf Wiedersehen! Joachim Low bids farewell to Germany

The German FA has announced that coach Joachim Low will be stepping down after Euro 2020, thus bringing to an end one of football’s longest national-team tenures.

Low actually had another year to run on his contract, taking him to the World Cup finals in Qatar, but has struck an agreement to end it early, thus clearing the way for a successor — Germany’s first new manager in almost 15 years.

The 61-year-old was instrumental in reconstructing Germany’s footballing philosophy and reestablishing them as one of the most formidable teams in world football, guiding them to the Euro 2008 final, then third place at the 2010 World Cup, before winning it outright in 2014.

So, to mark the end of a considerable era, here are 15 things to know about the man they call Jogi — one for every year of his tenure.

1. Low officially took charge of Germany on July 12, 2006, but his association with the national team goes back a further two years, having first been appointed as assistant to predecessor Jurgen Klinsmann in July 2004. Low then stepped up to become head coach upon Klinsmann’s departure from the role after Germany finished third in their home World Cup.

2. Low is far and away the longest-serving international manager in Europe, having been in full charge of Germany for 14 years and 240 days. That’s over 3 years longer than the next coach on the list, Koldo Alvarez, who has been at the helm of the Andorran national side for 11 years and 35 days.

3. Low is also the longest-tenured manager in world football, though he may not be but for the coronavirus pandemic. Twelve months ago the Uruguayan football federation were forced to layoff all their coaching staff due to financial issues. This included veteran boss Oscar Tabarez, who’s second stint in charge of the national team began three months before Low’s, in March 2006.

4. He was a relatively unknown coach before he rose to prominence with Germany. Before ascending to the national team stage, he had spells in charge of Stuttgart and Karlsruhe, as well as varying stints further afield in Turkey with Fenerbahce, Adanaspor, and in Austria with Wacker Innsbruck and Austria Vienna.

5. Low also played football professionally, though his career as a striker never came close to hitting the heights he would later enjoy as a coach. The majority of his football was played in the German second tier with Freiburg, though he did score 7 goals in 52 Bundesliga appearances for Stuttgart, Eintracht Frankfurt and Karlsruhe in the early 1980s.

6. Despite failing to make much of an impact in the top tier, Low enjoyed a prolific career in the second division. Indeed, to this day he remains the second-highest goal scorer in Freiburg history with 81 goals in 252 appearances. He also won four caps for the German under-21 team.

7. His initial transition into coaching came in 1994, before officially retiring as a player. Indeed, the German forward cut his managerial teeth by helping out as a youth coach at Swiss side FC Winterthur, the club with whom he spent the final two years of his pro career. After hanging up his boots at the end of the 1994 season, Low returned to the Bundesliga in as assistant manager at Stuttgart. He was then handed the first-team reigns the following year and never looked back.

8. Low is only the third person to become Germany head coach having never represented the senior international team as a player. The first was Otto Nerz (1926) and the second was Erich Ribbeck (1998).

9. Countless debuts have been handed to Germany players over the years, but the very first players to make their international bows under Low were Manuel Freidrich and Malik Fathi, both of whom came off the bench in a 3-0 win over Sweden in August 2006 — Low’s first game in charge of Die Mannschaft. The 100th player to debut under Low was Mark Uth of Schalke, who took to the pitch in a 3-0 UEFA Nations League defeat against Netherlands in October 2018 — Low’s 168th game in charge.

10. Low has led Germany to six major tournaments, reaching three finals (winning one) and six semifinals. To put that in perspective, all 15 of England managers — from Walter Winterbottom in the 1940s through to current incumbent Gareth Southgate — have reached one final and four semis.

11. The tournament record is second to none, having both managed and won more total games at European Championships and World Cups than any other coach ever.

12. Low has overseen some astounding results during his tenure as Germany coach, perhaps none more so than the truly crushing 7-1 humiliation his side inflicted on hosts Brazil at the 2014 World Cup. It is a game that has already passed into immortality as the heaviest defeat in Brazil’s history and the biggest competitive loss ever suffered by a World Cup-winning nation. The scoreline has also passed into common parlance in Brazil, where “being given a one-seven” has become slang for taking a heavy blow — be it physical or figurative.

13. Another resounding high came later that same tournament when Mario Gotze’s outstretched toe proved to be the difference at the Maracana as Germany snatched World Cup glory from underneath Argentina’s noses in extra time. Gotze came off the bench in the 88th minute and subsequently scored the only goal of the game in the 113th, thus becoming the first substitute ever to score a World Cup-winning goal, as well as the youngest player (22) to score in a final for 48 years. Low later revealed the inspirational words he said to Gotze at half-time of extra time, mere moments before the young forward etched his name in the annals of World Cup history: “Okay, show the world you are better than Messi.” Messi probably still had the upper hand in the long run, but you can’t argue with the short-term results.

14. Of course, for all the lofty highs there have also been crushing lows (pun fully intended) with the UEFA Nations League defeat against Spain in November 2020 among the very lowest. Ferran Torres scored a hat trick as Die Mannschaft lost 6-0 in Seville — Low’s bewildered side slumping to the second-heaviest defeat in the entire history of the German national team. “It was a dark day,” their embarrassed coach said after the final whistle.

15. As well as the sleek knitwear and seemingly unflappable demeanour, Low is also famed for his much-coveted head of thick, inky black hair. The German once faced a grilling by newspaper Die Welt as to whether or not his trademark mop is natural, or in fact too silken to be true.

Asked to address claims he wore a wig, Low’s response was to take immediate offence before inviting the interviewer to step up and find out for themselves.

“I’ve heard the rumours too. Nonsense. You are welcome to pull on it!” he joked. “I just have a lot of hair, I can’t do much about my hairstyle. My hair grows forward, which bothers me a little.

“I can’t even comb it back. That’s why I’ve had the same hairstyle for as long as I can remember.”

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