Joachim Löw's 15-year stint as Germany boss has come to an end, but how much do you really know about the 2014 FIFA World Cup-winning coach?
bundesliga.com scratches beneath the surface to find out more...
1) A nose for goal
Born on 3 February 1960 as the oldest of four brothers in the town of Schönau in south-west Germany, Löw completed his school education at the age of 17 before beginning an apprenticeship as a wholesaler. With a back-up plan in the bag to appease the parents, Löw could now focus on his football career, and in 1978 he joined the region's biggest club, SC Freiburg, for the first of three spells.
Standing at 6'0" he wasn't the biggest of strikers, but he was certainly effective. His haul of 83 goals in 263 competitive outings for the Black Forest outfit was the club record until overtaken by Nils Petersen a few years ago. In between his spells with the club, Löw also had stints at Eintracht Frankfurt, VfB Stuttgart and Karlsruhe, scoring seven goals in 52 Bundesliga games before eventually hanging up his boots in 1995 and moving into coaching.
2) Wait, he won other stuff before the World Cup?
While Löw's playing career was modest by his later standards – he never played for the senior Germany national team and only earned four caps for the U21s – the transition to the touchline seemed to suit him. Having been appointed as Stuttgart assistant coach in 1995, he was handed the first-team reins just a year later and guided a team containing future Bayern Munich star Giovane Elber to DFB Cup glory in 1997.
The following year Löw took his side to the final of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, where they suffered a narrow 1-0 loss to Chelsea. He would later take charge at Turkish giants Fenerbahce, as well as Karlsruhe and Adanaspor before winning the Austrian league title in Innsbruck in 2002.
3) Part of the Germany revolution
So far, so run of the mill, right? Here is where things get interesting. When Jürgen Klinsmann was appointed as Germany head coach in 2004, he remembered Löw from the Hennes Weisweiler Coaching Academy, where they had taken their coaching badges at the same time some years earlier. Together, they set about changing the structure and mindset of the German game, gradually implementing a more dynamic approach that strayed from the country's typical image of a dour collective that would inevitably grind out results.
Current Germany general manager Oliver Bierhoff said that Klinsmann and Löw "introduced speed, quick passing, movement... and got the team to play the ball forwards and not, like we have in the past, sideways." And when Klinsmann stepped down in 2006, Die Mannschaft already had a ready-made replacement waiting in the wings.
Watch: Löw, Germany's goalscoring coach
4) Record breaker
Perhaps the signs were always there that Löw would achieve something special, as – after Otto Nerz and Erich Ribbeck – he was only the third person to become Germany's head coach having never represented the senior team as a player. He quelled any initial doubts with a comfortable 3-0 win over Sweden in his first game in charge, and underlined his talent with three more victories in Germany's subsequent outings. In so doing, he became the country's first head coach not to concede a goal in their opening four games. Five wins from his first five assignments was also a record.
Beginner's luck, perhaps? Well, luck doesn't get you to the final of UEFA Euro 2008, or to the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup or Euro 2012. And while Germany fell agonisingly short at those tournaments, Löw learned and moulded the experience gained into an advantage at Brazil 2014. He later followed up that memorable title win with further success at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. Following Germany's last-16 exit to England at Euro 2020, he had taken charge of 196 Germany games, winning 124, drawing 39 and losing 34. In short, he is the best coach in the country's history.
5) Football in the family
Joachim was not the only gifted footballer in the Löw household, since his younger brother Markus was a defender who also played for Freiburg. The two were even in the squad together for the first half of the 1980/81 campaign. Speaking of family, Löw was just 17 when he met his future wife Daniela. The two tied the knot in 1986 and were married for 30 years before separating in 2016.
6) Accustomed to scaling the heights
Germany's triumph at Brazil 2014 was not the first time Löw had been on top of the world. In 2003 he climbed the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, standing as the highest peak in Africa at 19,340 feet. "It was a difficult ascent over five days, and in the last night I reached my limit, both physically and mentally," he recalled in an interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung. "We got to the summit at sunrise and I felt a sense of happiness – that almost anything is possible in this world."
7) Sweet (and sour) tooth
When it comes to nutrition it's a case of 'do as I say and not as I do' for Löw, who enjoys indulging in several treats that are off-limits for his playing staff - including smoking, which he finally gave up in 2019. "I don't think anyone eats as many sweets as I do: cakes, chocolate, ice cream, desserts," he told Die Welt. "I also occasionally have one or two too many espressos." The 58-year-old went further, admitting he likes to wind down at home with "a nice plate of spaghetti and a glass of red wine while watching a good thriller. At home I want to feel in harmony. No extremes, nothing hectic."
8) His perfect Götze speech
It was the moment that defined decades of work. In the 2014 World Cup final André Schürrle chipped a ball into the box for the extra-time substitute Mario Götze, who took the ball on his chest and fired past Sergio Romero with his left foot to send German fans into delirium.
It was Götze's moment, and one that has made him a global star, but the secret soon came out as to why Löw brought on the 22-year-old. It was the short word Löw had in Götze's ear that may have made all the difference in the final against Argentina.
"I said to Götze, 'show the world you're better than Messi and you can decide the game'," revealed Germany's coach after the final in Rio de Janeiro. Job done.
9) Special "Poldi"
German speakers will be well aware of the pitfalls in social etiquette that come with deciding whether to address someone with the more formal "Sie" or the informal "du".
It is customary for older people, or those in a position of seniority, to invite somebody else to use "du" – as former Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes did with Julian Nagelsmann in recent years. Former Cologne and Bayern striker Lukas Podolski took matters into his own hands right from the off, however, and is the only player to use the informal address with Löw.
"He calls me 'du'," Löw said in an interview with Zeit magazine. "It just kind of happened automatically with him when I was assistant coach under Klinsmann. I haven't explicitly given permission to anyone."
10) Socially active
Löw is very conscious of his high-profile status and has quietly set about putting it to good use for the benefit of worthy causes. He has been vice president of 'Stiftung Jugendfussball' since 2002, a foundation that supports social projects involving football around the world.
He supported the 'We help Africa' initiative ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and he is involved with Plan International, an organisation that helps disadvantaged children across the globe. It is through the latter institution that he has sponsored a boy and a girl in Ghana since 2010.
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