Why the sound of silence will be golden for Vogts

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The Independent Online

Berti Vogts was the man who drowned out "Football's Coming Home" and replaced it with "Deutschland Uber Alles" at Euro 96, but for his own homecoming nothing would be more appropriate than "Stille Nacht".

If the £600,000 salary Scotland are reported to have offered the former German manager is not enough of a carrot, the chance to reduce Germany to a hushed silence almost certainly is. The twist of fate on Friday which pitted the country desperate to pay for his services up against the one who dispensed with them will clinch Vogts' decision to say "Yes" to Scotland.

Sacked after Germany exited the last World Cup finals at the quarter-final stage, his European Championship triumph at Wembley six years ago harshly overlooked, the man tagged a failure in his fatherland needs closure. Group Five of the Euro 2004 qualifiers could provide it.

In the words of Kevin Keegan, the man who he duelled with on so many occasions as a player in the late 1970s, Vogts would "love it, just love it, if we could beat them".

"We" is a state of mind whose boundaries keep changing for Vogts. He is currently Kuwait's national coach, by next month he will be Scotland's. "Kuwait is not Berti Vogts," explains Franz Beckenbauer, a team-mate in so many German triumphs and the man who passed on the baton to Vogts as national coach after winning the World Cup in Italy in 1990.

"He needs to be with a real football nation, one that is passionate about the game, and that is Scotland. He will be looking forward to the challenge of Scotland, and the fact that Germany are now in the qualifying group will make him look forward even more. He will see this as 'I will show Germany that I can still do this'.

"Berti and I played together in the German youth team in 1963, we were in the national side that won the European Championship in 1972, the World Cup in 1974 and he was on the coaching staff during my six years as national team manager. He is an excellent coach and did a great job for Germany when we won Euro 96, although I don't think Rudi Völler will think it is wonderful he will be up against Berti because we all know how good Vogts is.

Völler, of course, is making his own way as Germany's coach after inheriting the mess of Erich Ribbeck's reign after the early departure from Euro 2000. But he will be only too aware that Scotland have a habit of rising to the occasion against Germany, without any help from Vogts.

Craig Brown inflicted defeat upon the Germans on their own soil in Bremen in 1999, while Völler was part of a German team who survived a fierce encounter with Scotland at Norkopping in Sweden during the European Championship finals in 1992.

Vogts has his own evidence too. He and Beckenbauer might never been around on that fateful day in Leon in 1970, when England's world came crashing down, had they not enjoyed a huge slice of luck to prevent the Scots from going to Mexico instead.

"We had two exciting games," recalled Beckenbauer. "It was 1-1 in Glasgow and then we won a fantastic match 3-2 in Hamburg with a goal two minutes from the end which helped us to qualify. I remember how hard the Scots fought and I know that their attitude has not changed."

If everyone else feels a bit like intruders at a private party, Iceland, Lithuania and the Faroe Islands will dispense with such manners once Group Five commences. Iceland possess one of the Premiership's most ruthless finishers in Eidur Gudjohnsen and recently held France to a draw in a friendly.

Scotland yearn to have someone like the Chelsea striker in their ranks, and the lack of firepower is something that Vogts will have to rectify. But when it comes to silencing Germany, for once he and the Scots will be singing from the same hymn book.

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