Deutschland tÜber alles: Materialism is a dirty word in the Bundesliga

German footballers play by different rules from ours – look at them on the Underground! Tony Paterson in Berlin explains why materialism is a dirty word in the Bundesliga

They looked like ordinary, unremarkable commuters: 12 blokes in black anoraks sitting in a Bakerloo Line Tube heading towards Wembley. In Germany yesterday, the media remarked that the decision by the country's soccer team to take the London Underground to training was a " bit of a novelty". Joachim Löw, their coach, insisted that the team had opted for the 42-minute Tube ride because of London's "terrible traffic", flatly ruling out the suggestion that the idea was a publicity stunt. He wasn't joking.

Compare the image of modest, Tube–travelling German footballers with a photograph of the British Premier league player Robin van Persie that appeared in the German and UK media last month: it showed the Manchester United star clutching a large metal ring with bunches of keys for each of his five cars attached. They included two Porches, a BMW X5, a Range Rover and an Audi. "For trips down to the shops, Robin likes to drive his white BMW X5," readers were informed. The contrast between Teutonic and British soccer culture could hardly be greater. "In Britain, soccer stars are the Kings of Bling, in Germany the idea of a good night out for Bundesliga players is a couple of beers and being in bed by midnight," one DFB insider told The Independent yesterday.

The ostentatious way in which British First Division players display their enormous wealth is accepted as a normal component of UK soccer, and if anything it is encouraged by the popular press. In German soccer, players showing off money is considered vulgar not least because it turns off the fans. That is not to say that German players are not wealthy, but they don't display it and the media does not dwell on it.

The upshot is that while Manchester United's star players buy country mansions and become fully fledged members of the "Cheshire Set", their German counterparts at Bayern Munich live in modest accommodation in the suburbs of the Bavarian capital and attract little attention other than when they are on the soccer pitch.

A highlight for the German media is when national or major Bundesliga team players decide to attend the annual Munich Oktoberfest beer festival. Despite the oceans of alcohol on tap, German footballers are rarely photographed drunk or even getting drunk. Instead, they turn up dressed in traditional Bavarian Lederhosen costumes with their Dirndl-clad wives or girlfriends, and order dinner with their drinks. It is a far cry from "five car-key" football.

Germany's modest approach to soccer has obvious roots in the country's history. After 1945, football was one of the few ways of regaining some form of international recognition and pride for a disgraced and shunned nation. Nobody was going to applaud show-offs; especially not German soccer show-offs.

Germany reinvented its own peculiar brand of soccer modesty for the World Cup, which it hosted in 2006. Reunited Germany wanted to be loved and the soccer tournament was the ideal vehicle. Jürgen Klinsmann fielded a young German national side comprised of players who were so unknown that they had neither the money nor the media reputation to show off. Klinsmann forged an almost hermetically sealed team identity which frowned on the notion of individual players capturing the limelight.

The Klinsmann concept continues. Today's players are still modest. With the growing inclusion of foreign and domestic immigrant players to the national squad, German soccer sees itself as a standard bearer of new multiculturalism.

Mesut Ozil, the Turkish German soccer star is one such player, and part of the modest soccer generation. He plays for Arsenal and lives in Hampstead. German radio recently interviewed customers in his local pub, noting their shock that a soccer star should condescend to drink with them. "We're not used to seeing such famous players close up," said one drinker. Ozil's modesty was clearly working magic.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

    £65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

    Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

    £27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas