Munich - Recognised as one of the best full backs in the world game for Borussia Mönchengladbach and West Germany in the 1970s, Berti Vogts has been in charge of the Azerbaijan national team since 2008. He was also recently brought on board by USA head coach Jürgen Klinsmann as an external consultant ahead of the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
The 67-year-old guided Germany to victory at EURO 96 in England and, as one of the initiators of the country's radically overhauled youth training concept at the turn of the millennium, continues to keep a particularly close eye on the Bundesliga. bundesliga.com caught up with him to find out what he thinks about the current state of play in German football...
bundesliga.com: Berti Vogts, as coach of the Azerbaijan national team you travel all over the world. What is the global perception of the Bundesliga today?
Berti Vogts: The Bundesliga has a good reputation, as does German football in general. A very good reputation.
bundesliga.com: What is that reputation based on?
Berti Vogts: People see what the league and its clubs are delivering and that has a knock-on effect for the national team as well. The youth training concept in Germany is one of a kind, and not only in Europe. The clubs and the Bundesliga itself deserve massive credit for their work in that area.
bundesliga.com: Is it a concept that could serve as a role model for elsewhere?
Berti Vogts: That's my view and it's one I find confirmed by what I see and hear in other countries. Above all it's FC Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund who are determining the perception of the German game. They're the clubs you'll see most of on television abroad, which is obviously in a big part down to their performances in the Champions League. There's only actually one area where I'd like to see a further improvement.
bundesliga.com: Which is?
Berti Vogts: I'd like to see more Bundesliga games shown in more countries. It might still be down to the likes of the English and Spanish leagues having long-term broadcasting contracts but when I turn on the TV in a hotel in some other part of the world, I'd like to see even more Bundesliga matches advertising the high standard of German football.
bundesliga.com: There has been some lively debate in Germany recently about the way FC Bayern have been dominating the domestic game...
Berti Vogts: The debate I've been hearing most lately has been about the drop-off in Bayern's form. It's not something I can really relate to, I think the reaction's been a bit over the top. Bayern have been performing at an incredible level for months, you could say they've almost been over-performing. It's quite normal to be slightly less focused sometimes.
bundesliga.com: You recently joined up with US national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann as an external consultant. What's behind that move?
Berti Vogts (laughs): A lot less than a good few people obviously suspect.
Berti Vogts: First-off, Jürgen Klinsmann doesn't need me to find out more about the German team that the USA will face in Brazil, he very likely knows more about the current squad than I do. And I'll tell you something else, I hope Germany win the World Cup. This generation of players deserves it. The game between Germany and the USA will be a meeting of friends but obviously it's a game both sides want to win all the same. By the time it takes place, Germany will already have six points in the bag.
bundesliga.com: With your help?
Berti Vogts: All I can say to that is that I spoke with (Germany coach) Joachim Löw and (general manager) Oliver Bierhoff on the phone and they had a rather different opinion. I'm afraid my level of involvement's being exaggerated in some quarters.
bundesliga.com: So what's behind your consultancy role?
Berti Vogts: Jürgen Klinsmann and myself have been in very close contact for many years. I originally recommended him for the post of national team coach to the DFB (German FA, ed.). The positive aspects he introduced have been nurtured and accelerated by Löw, Bierhoff and the league itself. And in the interim, German football has come to be regarded in a quite different light. As far as the current contact with the US team goes, he asked if I could help out.
bundesliga.com: How in particular?
Berti Vogts: I'll be taking a look at Ghana, Portugal and a few other matches. The agreement's also part of a close collaboration between the US and Azerbaijani football associations. We'll be playing the USA in a friendly, which is a real plus for Azerbaijan. We're sending a women's Under-19 team to the States and other youth sides will be attending training camps there. First and foremost, Azerbaijan and the US are cooperating in the area of youth training.
bundesliga.com: Coming back to the World Cup in Brazil: many people believe the climate could prove problematic for the European teams at the finals. Would you share that concern?
Berti Vogts: If I'm rightly informed, it's likely to be relatively cool in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo when the semi-finals take place. On top of that, looking at how many of the South American players are based in Europe now, they're going to have the same 'problem'. It might have been a different story before, but that's one aspect of the game that's changed a lot in recent years.
Interview: Oliver Trust