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Article by Oskar Beck

This story and more can be found in the new sports book “UND ALLES WEGEN ALI

 

Jogi Löw: “They will have to chase me out of football”.

After Donald Trump, Jogi Löw is also resisting handing over the reins. The national coach apparently does not accept the 0:6 against Spain, demands a recount of the goals – and thus takes a risk like Giovanni Trapattoni once did.

In the White House in Washington, a tragedy worthy of a stage is currently unfolding, and the theatre is coming to a head day by day. For Donald Trump does not want to leave. “Over my dead body”, the US president has vowed and refuses to hand over the keys, he is resisting the handover of office and is allegedly barricading himself behind sandbags in the Oval Office – as things stand, an FBI evacuation squad will have to storm the building and carry Trump out at gunpoint.

Why are we telling this story?

Because it is strikingly similar to another one that has been rocking German football for weeks now in this dreary autumn. Jogi Löw, our national coach, also refuses to give way – he stubbornly refuses to go. Yet the people have voted him out of office like the Americans voted their president out of office, only much more clearly. According to representative surveys, about eight out of ten Germans are scratching their heads in the aftermath of the 2018 World Cup flop and, above all, the unbearable 6-0 defeat to Spain, and think that Löw should give it a rest.

Fake news, counters the national coach. In any case, he has let all the votes go in one ear and out the other so unaffectedly that a blasphemous mocking gibe in reference to the 0:6 in Seville chased the message through the internet: “Jogi Löw doesn’t recognize the defeat and demands a recount of the goals.” A handover of office was still far from being thought of.

Although this story is undoubtedly a lie, at best a cheap joke to laugh along with, it confirms a galloping trend: no one in power voluntarily leaves the field these days. In sports, shows and politics, Giovanni Trapattoni’s old motto is becoming increasingly true: “One day I’ll have to be kicked out of football.”

Will Joachim Löw ultimately have to be led away in handcuffs and a straitjacket? For the moment, he is still defying the overwhelming rejection and shaking off all the mockers like pesky houseflies. Subtle critics accuse the national coach of not listening to the great Schiller, who in the heyday of his career wrote: “A good exit graces the exercise.” But back then it was all about gymnastics.

Now it’s about football.

It is said that there have been the occasional rebellious Löw questioners at the German Football Association, but whenever things get heated, the answers are given either by Löw himself or by Oliver Bierhoff. It remains unforgotten how the manager of the national team pounded the table after the 2018 World Cup flop and demanded: “We have to have tough internal discussions.” Jogi Löw spontaneously nodded to this, discussed it with himself for eight weeks afterwards as part of intensive visits to the Black Forest, and found out that he was the right man for the rebuild. This rebuilding is now taking a diversion via complete collapse, so Bierhoff immediately demanded again with presence of mind after the 0:6 against the Spaniards: “We have to analyse brutally.” Once again, Jogi relentlessly discussed the facts with Löw – and continued to be tough as nails without any fear of being beaten up by the football fans.

Is the fear of leaving even greater?

Every farewell is a small death. Many know this terrible fear, not only the national coach but also at least three of his former world champions. Do you remember the faces of Thomas Müller, Mats Hummels, and Jerome Boateng when Löw abruptly told them that although it had been nice with them for a long time, it no longer made sense? Hermann Hummels recounted that his son called him in despair on that gloomy day: “I asked: Are you injured? And he said: it’s worse.”

The fear of being out of the game always goes hand in hand with ghastly feelings. When Lothar Matthäus retired as captain in 1994 after disagreements with national coach Berti Vogts, he slept terribly badly afterwards and wrote confusing diaries. But he didn’t let up, because he was determined to build on his record as a national player, and under public pressure, he was allowed to celebrate his comeback at the 1998 World Cup.

No one likes to quit. Did Uli Hoeneß ever quit as Bayern boss? When he feels it’s necessary to put his foot down, he still throws it in everyone’s face and swiftly dismisses the defender Alaba or his adviser without asking the chairman of the board Rummenigge much beforehand. What did people expect, that after his departure Hoeneß would only be a greeting-godfather and would otherwise be bobbing around Lake Tegernsee in a boat with his wife? Everyone forgets that he grew up as a young footballer under the Bayern patriarch Wilhelm Neudecker, who still threatened in his old age: “When will I stop? Only when I fall into my grave. And then I’ll continue for another two years.”

Cutting back might still be halfway bearable, but retiring? “Never,” Trude Herr once sang, “do you go completely”.

Jogi Löw isn’t going at all.

Yes, he did think about it once, but only briefly. In another darkest hour, after the 2-0 defeat by South Korea at the World Cup two years ago, he promised bleakly: “I have the responsibility and I stand by it.” His next sentence could then have been, “I resign.” But he was probably immediately slowed down by the question: where to?

When will I stop? Not until I fall into the grave. And then I’ll go on for another two years

What awaits someone who gives up a dream job? Is there any life at all after retirement, or is the most you can do as a retiree is to kill time with a cruise to Honolulu, walking your Doberman or sporadic expert appearances on Sport 1’s “Doppelpass”? Should he, as the former national coach, spend the rest of his life jumping through burning hoops in the accompanying circus of football as roaring Löw? Should he watch old films of his victories on the sofa with a glass of sherry? The national coach would rather stick to the boxer’s motto “pick yourself up, wipe your mouth, move on”, as we would probably all do.

We lowland Tyroleans have no idea how the enviable ones feel up there on their summit, floating in the airy heights. That up there, that’s happiness. And no one wants to descend and go back to the bottom camp of the deep valley.

Tom Brady told it beautifully. The great US quarterback was asked by a reporter two years ago after his last Super Bowl victory why he still hasn’t quit at 41. Brady pointed to the ecstatically cheering audience and shouted the answer in the other’s face: “Why? Yeah, look at that!” Adrenaline rush, pure and simple. Where else is he going to get that in life?

Leaving is not sexy, that’s why Brady is still playing and still winning. And that’s why Donald Trump wants everything but to quit. And Jogi Löw has also made a habit of sitting out all of his setbacks. Or is he doing some soul-searching after all? Unbending optimists are bravely clinging to their dream that the national coach will soon retreat to the Black Forest for another eight weeks to brood, but then stand manfully in front of a camera and say: “I have come to my senses after all.”

Many would applaud him spontaneously, probably including Günter Netzer. He recalled his glorious time as a ball distributor at Real Madrid and sadly described how the tenacious perseverance of some old stars there did not end well: “In the end, they had to be lassoed off the pitch.”

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