Klinsmann has praise for Venables and his side

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The Independent Online
Jurgen Klinsmann, the German captain, yesterday urged followers of English football to realise the debt it owes Terry Venables - and forecast an even brighter beginning under Glenn Hoddle. The injured former Tottenham striker was as anxious as any Wembley spectator during the tension of Wednesday's Euro 96 semi-final.

While the 31-year-old was delighted that Germany had emerged triumphant from a night which swayed this way and then that in tantalising and mesmeric fashion, he was quick to pay tribute to Venables.

"They have played wonderful attacking football, and it was just so very close. England were very organised and looked like a top side, with everybody running his backside off. That shows just how good a job Terry Venables has done for English football. He's now left Glenn a team which looks like one of the strongest in the world.

"They've proved that by their performances in the tournament. Terry can be really proud of the job he has done over the past two-and-a-half years with his lads."

Klinsmann walked away from Wembley clutching the shirt of his former Spurs team-mate, Teddy Sheringham, and was confident in his assertion that his personal respect for the English game would be shared across the Continent.

"I certainly wasn't surprised that England could play so well because they proved it during the tournament. They proved it six years ago in Italy, it was just as close then, and when it goes to penalties you need that little bit of luck. We had it and that's all it takes."

Despite his unwanted spectating role, Klinsmann admitted he was still trying to catch his breath from a night which - at least inside the stadium - demonstrated everything that is best about the English game.

"It was an incredible game, a game that didn't deserve a winner and a loser," he said. "It was so close and far and away the most dramatic one in the Championship. Extra time was just unbelievable, it was so tense, so exciting. And it just went on as well, up and down, up and down, all the time. The atmosphere was incredible, too.

"The lads had never experienced anything like that in their careers and there's no doubt it's a game everybody will still be talking about in 10 or 20 years. It was so dramatic."

Germany, however, are in the final, although with their resources stretched. Three players - Jurgen Kohler, Mario Basler and Fredi Bobic - have already gone home injured, while two of their penalty takers, Stefan Reuter and Andreas Moller, are ruled out after receiving their second yellow cards. Steffen Freund, Thomas Helmer and Christian Ziege sustained knocks against England which could put their participation in doubt and, if Klinsmann's calf injury does not heal, they could be down to a bare minimum of outfield players. The skipper said: "I still have a hope, even if it's not a big one. The doctors have been clear to me [that I cannot play] but I still believe I can get fit."