I moved to Germany in 2005 as the country was gearing up to host the World Cup 2006. Coming from the United States, I was intrigued by football culture and found it a convenient and practical way to assimilate to my new surroundings and language.
My Bavarian husband, Guenther, became my football concierge, patiently and enthusiastically answering all of my questions about the sport, and explaining the history of Die Mannschaft and its key players. We put up a flag, I donned a Trikot, painted my face schwarz-rot-gold, and we attended as many public viewing events as possible. The loss to Italy was devastating and I cried for days, then summoned the strength to choose Bayern Munich as my club team so I could continue to follow many of the players I had grown to love.
We were living in Abu Dhabi by the time the 2010 World Cup rolled around and I kept up with the news and the games as a connection to my former German home. We watched the team develop as old players left and new members joined. By 2011, it was a point of pride for Guenther that Mario Goetze, who was born in Guenther’s hometown of Memmingen, had made the national team and was eventually named in the World Cup squad in 2014.
On the night of the 2014 finals, we were huddled around our favourite table at Stars N’ Bars on Yas Island, hoping for a repeat performance of the team’s 7-1 win over Brazil in the semi-finals. But the game remained goalless and I remember we got a text message from my stepdaughter in Memmingen about how nervous she was.
I was too engrossed in the game to respond but I intended to say: "Hang in there. We're just waiting for Goetze." Sure enough, at the 88th minute, Joachim Low substituted Miroslav Klose for Goetze – reportedly telling him to show the world he is better than Messi – and at the 113th minute of extra time, Andre Schurrle passed to Goetze from the far left, Goetze caught the ball on his chest, dropped it to his left foot and rifled it past the Argentinian keeper. Mayhem ensued. The kid from Memmingen had scored the World Cup winning goal, becoming the youngest and first substitute player to do so.
That New Year’s Eve, I saw on his Instagram that Goetze was vacationing in Dubai and I joked to Guenther I wanted to find him and ask for a picture. “A picture of you and Goetze?” Guenther asked. “No,” I said, “A picture of me and Goetze’s left foot.”
Ellen Fortini is listings editor at The National