When did football become popular in Germany?

Football’s origins may have been in England, but its popularity has spread far and wide all over the globe. Germany were somewhat late bloomers to the game but have since become one of the most powerful nations in the sport and a truly impressive opponent when it comes to the World Cup. The German Football League took a while to get established, but has seen amazing results since its inception. 

Although the ever intimidating Brazil still holds the top spot for most wins, Germany is a close second, holding victories in 1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014, the latter of which was a truly humiliating defeat for Brazil. Moreover, Germany wins top spot for consistency. They have competed in 19 of 21 tournaments and only failed to reach the quarterfinals on two occasions – an unrivalled statistic in FIFA World Cup Finals history! Germany is home to some football legends, including Fritz Walter and Sepp Maier and their overall dominance in the sport goes without question – time will tell if they will knock out Brazil to take the top spot of Greatest World Cup Nation.

So when is it that Germany actually started getting into football and what led to such a rise in popularity and such commitment to excel in it?

It is believed that two school teachers, August Hermann and Konrad Koch, introduced football to Germany in the late 19th century. Generally, there was a strong resistance to the introduction of any ‘Englishness’ into the world of German athletics, but Koch set about downplaying the games origins by working hard to create translated and original jargon for football terminology, in essence giving football a unique German identity. In1903 he published his first official football rule book, with special terminology that Germany utilises to this day. 

Germany only played at the amateur level until 1949. Bundesliga was Germany’s first professional division, started in the mid 60s, comprised of clubs selected from the former West Germany, since the rise of the Berlin Wall added complications to Germany’s national representation. Actually, due to the many conflicts that were present around the time football was introduced to Germany, certain military terms actually wound up being added to the football jargon, such as “Torjägerkanone” (goalgetter canon).

Germany has become such a formidable force in football because, as a nation, they take the sport very seriously and it’s as much ingrained in their culture as it is in England. Germany seems a fan of the ‘hook ‘em while they’re young’ approach. They have endless youth clubs to help train youngster, but these clubs are definitely designed for hardcore training, not just for fun. Practice regimens are very tough, competition is fierce and the young players are often given the opportunity to face off against the pros. Apart from Spain, Germany boasts the highest number of football coaches as a nation, with approximately 35,000 coaches. That’s a pretty staggering (and possibly embarrassing) comparison to England, which reportedly has less than 3,000. 

Since their consistent record has brought such national pride and prestige to Germany, it’s not wonder that they take the training of new hopefuls so seriously and why the sport has gone from a distrusted imported novelty to a key ingredient in German life!

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