Full Name: Jürgen Klinsmann
Date of Birth: 30/07/1964
Born in Göppingen in 1964, Jürgen Klinsmann will go down as one of the best German strikers of the modern era. “The Golden Bomber”, a nickname which derives from his blonde hair and predatory goal scoring nature, enjoyed an illustrious playing career which stretched across Europe. He played for many famous clubs, scoring 232 goals in the process.
He is particularly well thought of amongst the faithful at Tottenham Hotspur, where he had two spells, in which he became famous for the ‘Klinsmann Dive’, a celebration which he pioneered as he celebrated his first goal for the club against Sheffield Wednesday. He recently managed the German national team to an unexpected third-place finish in the 2006 World Cup. He subsequently resigned in July 2006 and since then has been linked with various managerial posts such as Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and LA Galaxy. It remains to be seen where the German’s next adventure will begin.
Klinsmann’s first involvement in football came when he was just eight years old. During his youth, he played in every position, including goalkeeper. It wasn’t until he turned seventeen that he signed a professional contract with Stuttgarter Kickers, a second division club at the time, in Germany.
In 1984, he joined another Stuttgart club, the more celebrated VfB Stuttgart. It was here where Klinsmann started to make a name for himself as a prolific goal scorer, as he scored 79 goals in 156 appearances. In 1988, he was topscorer of the Bundesliga and was voted “German Player of the Year”. This form brought him to the attention of many leading European clubs. As a result, in the summer of 1989, it was Internazionale who sealed the sought after signature of this highly rated German striker. He joined fellow countrymen Lothar Matthäus and Andreas Brehme in a team that easily won the Serie A title in their maiden season at the club. After scoring 40 goals in 123 appearances for the Milan club, Klinsmann moved to France in 1992 to play for AS Monaco. He had now established himself as one of the finest strikers in world football, but didn’t win a major trophy in the two years he was at the French club.
His journey through Europe continued, and White Hart Lane was his next destination when he signed for Tottenham Hotspur in 1994. Upon his arrival in England, he was not very popular amongst the English press. This was not only because his German side had knocked England out of the 1990 World Cup, but also because he came with the reputation as a diver. However, Klinsmann was soon one of the favourites amongst the press, after he made fun of himself by diving across the pitch to celebrate his first goal for the club against Sheffield Wednesday. Here is is some YouTube action of that goal. This act endeared him not only to the press, but the British public in general. Klinsmann went on the win the 1995 Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year. His passion and spirit shown whilst on the pitch, along with his goals, has made him one of the true greats at Tottenham Hotspur.
After only one season in London, he joined Bayern Munich where he again continued his goal ratio of one in every two matches, scoring 31 goals in 65 appearances. He then played eight games for Serie A side Sampdoria in Italy, before returning to Spurs in 1998 on loan, where he saved them from relegation – scoring nine goals in just fifteen appearances. It was during his second spell at Spurs that Klinsmann decided to retire from playing professional football after the 1998 World Cup. However, he was persuaded to come out of retirement in 2003 when he played under a stage name, Jay Goppingen, for Orange County Blue Star in the American Premier Development League. The 39-year-old still had a taste for goals, scoring five in just eight outings.
Klinsmann’s onternational career was also successful. He was first called up for Germany duty in 1987, after which he accumulated 108 caps, along with 47 goals.
He achieved many International landmarks whilst playing for his country. He became the first player ever to score at least three goals in each of three World Cups. He has now been joined by Ronaldo of Brazil in that elite group. However, Klinsmann still remains second all time in World Cup goals scored by a German with 11, and only Gerd Muller has scored more. He is joint fifth in the overall rankings, in which Ronaldo tops with fifteen goals.
Klinsmann played in three European Championships, reached the final in 1992, and went one better when he won a winners medal in Euro ‘96 in England. He also played in three World Cups in the 90s. He achieved the ultimate prize when the West German side won the World Cup in 1990, in which he scored three goals. His greatest performance at a World Cup came in USA for the 1994 World Cup, where he scored five goals. Klinsmann also has a bronze Olympic medal to his name, and has scored eight goals to go with his fourteen Olympic caps for his country.
Klinsmann’s first job outside his professional playing career was with a sports marketing consultancy based in the United States, where he became vice-president. He was heavily involved in Major League Soccer as part of the Los Angeles Galaxy team. He then returned to Germany in 2004 to take charge of the national team, and succeeded former team mate and strike partner Rudi Völler.
Klinsmann’s first and only task as manager of the Germany team was to bring success in a World Cup which they hosted in 2006. Klinsmann brought a much-needed freshness to the International set-up and placed huge emphasis on youth in his squads. Players were no longer picked because of who they were, but instead on current form and merit. The clearest example of this was when Klinsmann dropped Oliver Kahn, and made Jens Lehmann the new number one goalkeeper after his excellent season with Arsenal.
Klinsmann’s arrival as manager of the national team was not greeted with too much praise from the German public or press. In the build up to the World Cup, his German team were humiliated by Italy, losing 4-1. Klinsmann also commuted to Germany from the United States, something which was very much frowned upon by the German public.
However, Germany’s performance under Klinsmann in the 2006 World Cup hushed his critics. Germany won all three group stage games against Costa Rica, Poland and Ecuador with ease. Then, a 2-0 victory against Sweden in the first knockout stage set up a mouth watering tie against much favoured Argentina in the quarter finals.
After an equalising goal from striker Miroslav Klose, the match went to penalties. Germany won 4-2 with help from Lehmann and his infamous note, which contained information on all the Argentinian spot-kickers. The nation was now behind Klinsmann but Germany’s heroics sadly ended there, as they crashed out of the competition after losing 2-0 in extra time to eventual winners Italy. They did, however, defeat Portugal 3-1 in the third and fourth playoff match. After this victory, there was a huge parade in Berlin where Klinsmann and his young squad were treated to an emphatic reaction from the public. Even Franz Beckenbauer, a previous critic of Klinsmann, announced that he wanted to keep Klinsmann as the coach. The new attacking style of play that Klinsmann created was now accepted by the German public, as they felt that national pride had been restored. To cap it all off, Klinsmann was even referred to as “Kaiser”, meaning “emperor”, a word which is normally set aside for German footballing greats such as Beckenbauer.
Despite all the support, Klinsmann stepped down as coach because of family reasons.
Where next for the Golden Bomber?
Jürgen Klinsmann has now proved himself as both a player, and as a manager. The future for the German can only be a bright one. Whenever a top managerial vacancy arises, he seems to be one of the first names to be put into the hat. Where his next destination is, only he knows. But, whatever his choice, it will most likely be the right one for him and his team.
- FWA Footballer of the Year: 1995
- German Footballer of the Year: 1994, 1988
|1981-1984||Stuttgarter Kickers||61 (22)|
|1984-1989||VfB Stuttgart||156 (79)|
|1992-1994||A.S. Monaco||65 (29)|
|1994-1995||Tottenham Hotspur||41 (21)|
|1995-1997||Bayern Munich||65 (31)|
|1997-1998||Tottenham Hotspur (on loan)||15 (9)|
|2003||Orange County Blue Star||8 (5)|