Football around the world: Ruthless Vogts has clear-out

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AFTER ALL the debate over the future of the old guard from 's under-achieving World Cup squad, Berti Vogts yesterday revealed the new men charged with the responsibility of restoring success to the national side.

Vogts, 's coach, yesterday included eight untried players in his squad for two friendlies next week. He has vowed to build a new team following his ageing side's disappointing quarter-final defeat to Croatia in France.

Only 10 of the 24 players named for fixtures in Malta on 2 September and in Romania three days later were members of the World Cup squad. "A new era for German football is starting," Vogts said. "We need young blood."

Jurgen Klinsmann, Thomas Helmer, Jurgen Kohler and Olaf Thon have all chosen to end their international careers, while Andreas Kopke, Lothar Matthaus, Stefan Reuter, Steffen Freund, Thomas Hassler, Andreas Moller and Christian Ziege have all been dropped.

As expected, Vogts has recalled Stefan Effenberg, the temperamental Bayern Munich midfielder who has not played for his country since he was sent home from the 1994 World Cup finals for making an obscene gesture to supporters, while the newcomers are the defenders Mustafa Dogan and Marko Rehmer, the midfielders Michael Ballack, Stefan Beinlich, Christian Nerlinger and Marco Reich, and the strikers Oliver Neuville and Paulo Rink.

Beinlich may be remembered by Aston Villa fans - he had an undistinguished spell at the Birmingham club in the early 1990s, after arriving as a teenager from a German amateur side. Two players currently with British teams are in Vogts' squad: the Newcastle United playmaker Dietmar Hamann and Rangers' versatile Jorg Albertz.

The most exotic newcomer is the 25-year-old Rink, who plays for Bayer Leverkusen. He was born in Brazil, but had a German great-grandfather who emigrated to South America in 1908.

Those who have been discarded received some words of comfort from the coach. "I talked a lot with the elder players to explain to them why they were not part of my plans," Vogts said. "It was not easy because I've known them for years, but we need to build a new team and I'll do it, whatever the price."


THE NEW issue of Fifa News, the monthly magazine of world football's ruling body, contains some good news for Thomas Ravelli.

Without strapping on a glove or lacing up a boot, the balding Swedish goalkeeper has become the globe's most-capped player. Fifa has investigated the 147 caps claimed by the previous holder of this accolade, Saudi Arabia's Majid Abdullah, and has found that five of them were awarded for matches not deemed to be full internationals, thus reducing his tally to 142 caps.

So, Ravelli, with 143 caps, is now at the top of a distinguished list. He may not have too many years to savour this claim to fame, though. While 's Lothar Matthaus (third in line with 129 caps) and Spain's Andoni Zubizarreta (126) are unlikely to win any more caps, there are two American players who may surpass Ravelli's total within two or three years.

The 31-year-old Marcelo Balboa has 124 caps but a more likely long-term candidate to top the list is the 28-year-old Cobi Jones, the former Coventry City forward, who already has 110 caps.


JALAL TALEBI'S taste of international footballing fame is, it appears, over. The man who took over as Iran's national coach three weeks before the World Cup finals has resigned for "family reasons".

Although Iran did not progress from the first round in the France, Talebi and his team were welcomed home as heroes because of their victory over the United States. He will return to his previous post as the squad's technical advisor.