Award Jürgen Klinsmann named German Football Ambassador

Jürgen Klinsmann: world traveller and football ambassador
Jürgen Klinsmann: world traveller and football ambassador | Photo: Nathan Forget

Whether as a player in England, the German team manager during the 2006 World Cup or as the US national coach – Jürgen Klinsmann has always been a special ambassador for football. Now he’s been given an award for it. The audience was also able to choose their favourite.

The ball is round and the game lasts 90 minutes. Sepp Herberger’s pearls of wisdom are not only legendary, but simple. Most importantly, they are true. The same applies to the only ostensibly banal insight that sport connects people and that football can build bridges. For this reason, the commitment of German coaches and players abroad is given special importance. While working overseas, coaches and players represent their homeland while also influencing the positive image of Germany as role models and image bearers. Honouring their dedication is the job of the German Football Ambassadors initiative, which confers the title of the same name annually. The Goethe-Institut is partnered with the initiative.

In addition to the main awardee, on Tuesday two more top names in German football were acknowledged with the honorary and the audience awards. The main award, which was conferred on Tuesday in the Foreign Office in Berlin, went to Jürgen Klinsmann. Even if Germany didn’t attain the title, the summer of 2006 remains unforgotten today. During this very emotional World Cup, Germany presented itself as an open and congenial host country and as the German national coach, Klinsmann was a central figure. Previously he had himself been a guest when he played for Inter Milan, AS Monaco, Tottenham Hotspur, Sampdoria Genoa and Orange County. He was already an ambassador of football then and still influences the image of German football around the world. In 1995, Klinsmann was voted Footballer of the Year in England where he is still considered a “legend” today.

Jürgen Klinsmann became the national coach of the US team in 2011 where his greatest successes were clinching the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July 2013 and reaching the round of sixteen at the 2014 World Cup. Association football has since gained new respect and is an aspiring sport in the USA.

With his prize money, Jürgen Klinsmann, coach of the US national team, is supporting Soccer for Success, a free afterschool programme that uses football as a tool to address children’s health issues and juvenile delinquency, while promoting healthy lifestyles in urban communities.

This year’s audience award went to Mesut Özil. He was chosen from a roster of eleven German football players, two of them women, who distinguish themselves abroad athletically and contribute to Germany’s reputation. In the online votes cast by over 30,000 users, Özil won out closely over Miroslav Klose and Toni Kroos.

Özil has a major role in the team as Arsenal FC’s playmaker. Following his sensational move there from Real Madrid in autumn 2013, he caused a veritable “Özil craze” in London. Since 2015 the world champion’s own Özil Foundation has helped children and young people in many countries.

The initiative also presented an honorary award this year to Thomas Hitzlsperger for his extraordinary commitment to sport and society. The award filled him with pride, Hitzlsperger said, adding, “It is also an incentive to continue to transport the ideas and values of German football abroad in future. During my stays abroad the exchanges of ideas were of inestimable value to me.”

Hitzlsperger was active as a player with Aston Villa, Lazio Rome and West Ham United. Off the pitch the former German national player opposes homophobia in sport, supports social projects in Europe and Africa and works as a journalist against racism, anti-Semitism and violence by right-wing extremists.