The 2019 UEFA European Under-21 Championship final marks exactly 10 years and one day since Germany first won the title with a crop of players that went on to form the backbone of one of the nation’s greatest ever senior sides.
Yet not all of the 14 players who appeared in the 4-0 win over England in the 2009 final in Sweden featured in that 2014 FIFA World Cup triumph. bundesliga.com looks back on those then burgeoning stars and what they’re up to now…
Then: Already Schalke’s first choice for a number of seasons in the lead up to the 2009 finals, Neuer won his first senior international cap under Joachim Löw before heading to the Under-21 tournament. He conceded just once throughout the competition and kept a clean sheet in the Malmo showpiece as Germany swept England aside.
Now: Arguably the world’s best No.1 and one of the game’s most decorated players, Neuer added the 2014 World Cup to his Under-21 winners’ medal at international level. Since signing for Bayern Munich in 2011, the 33-year-old has picked up a plethora of individual gongs to go with his seven Bundesliga, four DFB Cup and UEFA Champions League prizes.
Watch: Manuel Neuer's top 5 saves
Then: A fringe player in VfB Stuttgart’s 2007 Bundesliga title-winning success, the Russian-born Beck moved to Hoffenheim – for whom he would make 216 appearances – shortly before the 2009 finals. The defender scored Germany’s winner in the 1-0 semi-final triumph against Italy.
Now: Beck joined Besiktas in 2015, winning two league titles with the Turkish giants before returning to his Stuttgart roots in 2017 where he made a further 47 Bundesliga appearances. The 32-year-old is currently out of contract.
Position: Central defender
Then: Boateng had just enjoyed a run to the UEFA Cup semi-finals with Hamburg prior to joining up with his international teammates in 2009. His reputation as a tough-tackling, physical powerhouse was cemented with eight Bundesliga bookings for the Red Shorts in 2008/09.
Now: The Hertha Berlin youth product is a current Bayern behemoth, having signed for the Bavarians from Manchester City in 2011. Like Neuer, Boateng has been part of Bayern’s unprecedented seven successive Bundesliga wins and has also enjoyed DFB Cup and Champions League success with the record German champions.
Position: Central defender
Then: After coming through the ranks of Germany’s various youth teams, the Schalke defender was ever-present in his country’s 2009 Under-21 success, even scoring in the 2-0 group stage triumph against Finland.
Now: Höwedes would go on to make 335 appearances for the Royal Blues, during which time he became one of just three players – alongside Neuer and Philipp Lahm – to play every minute of Germany’s 2014 World Cup success. He left Gelsenkirchen left for Juventus on a year-long loan in 2017/18 before signing permanently for Lokomotiv Moscow in 2018.
Then: HSV and Boateng lost out on a place in the 2009 UEFA Cup final following defeat to Boenisch’s Werder Bremen at the semi-final stage. A subsequent loss in the showpiece to Shakhtar Donetsk was quickly forgotten by the River Islanders, who won the DFB Cup prior to Boenisch linking up with his Germany colleagues. A former teammate of Mesut Özil at Werder, the Poland-born left-back later went on to make 60 Bundesliga appearances for Bayer Leverkusen.
Now: After Under-21 success with Germany, Boenisch changed allegiances to Poland and went on to feature for the country of his birth at Euro 2012. Following a career beset by injuries, the 32-year-old is currently without a club since leaving 1860 Munich in 2017 after their Bundesliga 2 relegation.
Position: Defensive midfield
Then: Initially signed on loan by Borussia Dortmund from Bayern in 2008/09, Hummels was injured during the campaign but recovered to play his first minutes of Germany’s Under-21 tournament in the closing stages of the semi-final win against Italy. Suitably impressed by what he saw, coach Horst Hrubesch thus handed the North Rhine-Westphalia-native a defensive midfield role in his 4-1-4-1 final formation.
Now: After Hummels’ move to Dortmund was made permanent, the centre-back rose to global fame at BVB, where he enjoyed Bundesliga and DFB Cup glory, as well as the 2014 World Cup with Germany. A return to boyhood club Bayern followed in 2016, where he would win three further Bundesliga titles in as many years. This summer he has made the switch once again and one of the world’s best ball-playing centre-backs has returned to the Signal Iduna Park.
Watch: Mats Hummels' Bundesliga mixtape
Position: Right midfielder
Then: Germany’s loss is currently the USMNT’s gain, but the Under-21s still managed to have the right-sided attacker at his pacey best in 2009. Then coming to the end of his time at 1860 Munich, Johnson – like Hummels – played in the semi-final and final as Germany chalked up their first-ever Under-21 triumph.
Now: The son of an American father and a German-American mother, Johnson – who is one game short of 100 in the Bundesliga for Borussia Mönchengladbach – received a phone call from former USMNT coach Jürgen Klinsmann in 2011 and has since gone on to represent the Stars & Stripes 57 times.
Position: Central midfielder
Then: Experienced central midfielder Castro amassed an astonishing 107 Bundesliga appearances for Bayer Leverkusen prior to the 2009 finals and had previously appeared at the Under-21 showpiece event in 2006. Having suffered DFB Cup final heartache against Werder Bremen before making the trip to Sweden, Castro scored in the ’09 final to take his tournament tally against vanquished opponents England to two, adding to his strike in the teams’ 1-1 group stage draw.
Now: Castro’s five senior Germany caps had all come prior to that Under-21 tournament. He would go on to appear 370 times for Leverkusen before departing for Dortmund in 2015, where he lifted the 2017 DFB Cup. The 32-year-old would join Stuttgart in summer 2018.
Position: Central midfielder
Then: Germany’s captain made 22 appearances in Stuttgart’s 2007 Bundesliga-winning season and having later gained Champions League experience playing against the likes of Barcelona, the midfielder arrived in Sweden with the adequate know-how to lead his nation to glory.
Now: Khedira left Stuttgart are year later and would go on to claim silverware in Spain and Italy with Real Madrid and Juventus respectively. The holding midfielder was another of the 2014 World Cup winning cast, coming off the back of a Champions League trumph with the Spanish club.
Position: Left midfielder
Then: A player who became an assist king at Werder following his move from Schalke, Özil scored the winning goal in the 2009 DFB Cup final in the run up to tournament in Sweden. Setting up 15 Bundesliga goals that season warmed the attack-minded player up in timely fashion for Germany’s assault on the trophy and he was named man of the match in a goalscoring appearance in the final against England.
Now: Özil joined his international teammate and fellow World Cup winner Khedira at Real Madrid in 2010, winning the Spanish league in 2012, while he has been a mainstay at Arsenal since 2013. The 30-year-old has chalked up 32 goals and over 50 assists in 166 English Premier League appearances, as well as winning three FA Cups.
Then: A striker of some repute at Bundesliga 2 outfit Duisburg in 2009, Wagner only managed a full 90 minutes at that summer’s Under-21 finals, which he saved for the showpiece, scoring twice for Germany late on to sweeten the scoreboard for the victors.
Now: Following his final feat, the Munich-native could not have predicted he would have to wait eight years for a first senior cap. Yet after spells with Werder, Kaiserslautern, Hertha and Darmstadt, it was Wagner’s role in Hoffenheim’s remarkable 2016/17 campaign that led to a call up by senior coach Löw in June 2017. A hat-trick in his second appearance in a World Cup qualifier against San Marino helped Wagner bridge the international scoring gap and earn him a place at the 2017 Confederations Cup, which Germany won. The following January, the striker would return home to Bayern, scoring eight Bundesliga goals in 21 appearances a decade since last playing for the club. In January 2019 he would leave once again for Tianjin Teda in China.
Then: Coming to the end of his first season at Hamburg, defender Aogo played in all five of Germany’s games at the 2009 finals.
Now: The former Freiburg youth player would go on to have spells at Hamburg, schalke and most recently Stuttgart. He is now a free agent after their Bundesliga relegation.
Then: Another of those to have emerged at Freiburg, defender Schwaab was given 21 minutes to shine against England when brought on to replace Johnson as Germany looked to tighten up in the title decider.
Now: Schwaab won the 2017/18 Dutch league title with PSV Eindhoven during his three years in the Netherlands. He is now a free agent after being released by the club, having previously represented Leverkusen and Stuttgart.
Then: Already very much a part of Dortmund’s first team, Schmelzer played 135 minutes of Germany’s 2009 campaign in Sweden, and was brought on in the final minute of the final against England.
Now: BVB through and through, left-back Schmelzer has been club captain with two Bundesliga and two DFB Cup titles to his name.