World Cup Qualifier 2001 Germany v England

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Germany 1-5 England
1 September 2001, Olympic Stadium

Sven Goran Eriksson copyright Doha Stadium Plus Qatar and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 2
Sven-Göran Eriksson

Germany v England: Another classic

Germany v England 2001
Game swings England’s way
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England’s world cup qualifier win over old enemy Germany is considered their greatest victory since winning the World cup in 1966.

The old foes were drawn together in the same group of qualification for the 2002 World cup in Japan and South Korea. It was considered a race to finish top between the two, with the rest of the group being made up of lesser European footballing nations.

Germany had taken a big step towards finishing group winners by winning the last ever game at the old Wembley, 1-0 with Dietmar Hamann scoring the only goal. That result saw Kevin Keegan resign as England manager live on TV immediately after the game, claiming he “was not the man to take England forward”.

FA hire a foreigner to manage England

England’s FA turned to Sven Goran Eriksson as the man to lead the team to glory. The Swede had enjoyed a successful management career and had just won the Italian title, Serie A, with Lazio.

David Beckham
David Beckham

The decision to hire a non-Englishman was greeted with antipathy by both the English fans and media. There was a great deal of pressure on Eriksson to deliver as he would be allowed little patience by the fans, particularly if early results were poor.

The England team had some experienced internationals such as David Seaman, Sol Campbell and Gary Neville, but was mostly made up of young, exciting prospects such as Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole and Emile Heskey.

The England captain David Beckham had played in the previous World cup of 1998, alongside Michael Owen and Paul Scholes, and although still in the early stages of their careers, these players were established international stars.

The team was an emerging force after the international retirements of Alan Shearer, Tony Adams, Paul Ince and Stuart Pearce, who had been the spine of the England team for the last decade.

Pressure on Germans after poor results

Germany had suffered poor results in the past two international tournaments, being eliminated in the group stages of Euro 2000 and being knocked out early in the World cup in 1998. They had won Euro 96, beating the hosts England in the semi finals in a penalty shoot out.

Similarly to England, Germany were going through a transitional phase with many of their stalwarts having retired including Jurgen Klinsmann and Lothar Mattheus.

The team was made up of solid professionals Dietmar Hamann, Christian Worns, Sebastian Deisler and Jens Nowotny. Germany’s best player was midfield general Michael Ballack. They also boasted giant forward Carsten Jancker and one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Oliver Khan.

Germany strike first

The game started in a typical nervous, cagey fashion with the result being so important. As well as the qualification points available, the rivalry between England and Germany was as intense as it always had been.

Germany were the team to strike first. The ball was played into the England box and Carsten Jancker was the first to the knock down from Oliver Neuville, getting there just before David Seaman to poke the ball into the net. Less than ten minutes gone and they led 1-0, it was the perfect start for the Germans.
Game swings in England’s favour – Read more

Germany v England 2001
Game swings England’s way
More classic matches