Fans hope die Jungs will capture fourth title

Sascha Winter, 35, remembers 1990 as the last time Germany won the World Cup.

Sascha Winter, 35, remembers 1990 as the last time Germany won the World Cup. But he also remembers it as the first year when he freely visited his relatives in the former German Democratic Republic. "I remember being seven or eight, and there was always a discussion going on in the family because it was really difficult to be able to send these guys Christmas packages and so on," said Mr Winter, who works at an advertising company in Dubai. "In 1990, it must have been a couple of weeks prior to the World Cup, and we were actually able to visit them freely, to go there and see my grandmother and uncles."

In November 1989 the East German government announced that its citizens could visit West Germany. The following summer, on July 8, in Italy, the West German team beat Argentina 1-0 for the championship, and by October the two Germanys formally reunited. The victory was also memorable for Birger Kruse, 36, who said the World Cup win helped to strengthen the reunification. "We never thought that at the end, when it finally came, when our prime minister declared East Germany is going to be opened, no one could really believe it was happening," said Mr Kruse, who works for a construction company in the capital. "I think the World Cup kind of transported this at a larger level somehow. In 1989 and '90 there was a very, very intense national feeling, you might say. Most Germans don't tend to be nationalistic, but there was quite a thing."

The two men are hoping that the current crop of German players will capture a fourth World Cup for Germany. The national team have come close in the past two tournaments - they were runners-up to Brazil in 2002 and lost in the semi-finals to Italy in 2006. The team are ranked sixth in the world, but are without their captain, Michael Ballack, who suffered an ankle injury in his last match of the season with his English Premier League side, Chelsea.

Still, Mr Kruse expects Die Nationalmannschaft could go as far as the semi-finals. Germany have a reputation for not losing in a penalty shootout - the last time the side lost a penalty shootout in a major international tournament was in 1976 - and for playing well in the major tournaments. "The thing with the Germans is they might play some very gross football, but when it comes to the big tournaments they play very well," Mr Kruse said. "Most of the time they show up at least. They are a very big tournament team." mchung@thenational.ae

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