Name: Joachim Löw
Teams Managed: FC Frauenfeld, VfB Stuttgart, Fenerbahçe, Karlsruher SC, Adanaspor, Tirol Innsbruck, Austria Wien, German national side.
Years active: 1994 – present
Spending the majority of his playing career bouncing between the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga, Löw was by no means considered to be one of the standout performers of his generation but he did enough to forge a career.
His most memorable period as a player arrived during three stints with SC Freiburg. As an attacking midfielder he found the net 81 times in 211 appearances for the club. However, his times in the Bundesliga with VfB Stuttgart and Karlsruher SC weren’t as productive in terms of both appearances or goals.
He called time on his playing career in 1994 and went straight into management. After varying degrees of success as a manager he took over from Jürgen Klinsmann as the manager of the German national team in 2006 and delivered them a World Cup triumph in 2014, putting an end to the nation’s near-quarter-century trophy drought.
With it he etched himself into German history for eternity.
Löw was brought in as the assistant manager at VfB Stuttgart in 1995. After Rolf Fringer, the manager at the time, left to take up a role with the Swiss national side Löw was appointed as caretaker manager in August 1996 before transitioning into the role on a full-time basis the same year.
He finished his debut campaign with a fourth-place finish in the league as well as winning the DFB-Pokal. He couldn’t repeat the trick the following year and lost to Bayern Munich in the semi-final. However, they did reach the final of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup but lost 1-0 to Chelsea.
A spell managing German club Karlsruher SC was sandwiched between managerial stints in Turkey with Fenerbahçe and Adanaspor. He failed to add to his honours list during this three-year period.
Löw became manager of Austrian side Tirol Innsbruck on 10 October 2001 and led the team to the 2001–02 Austrian Bundesliga. However, the very same year the club had to declare bankruptcy.
He was then appointed as the manager of Austria Wien ahead of the 2003-04 season but cup failures overshadowed a positive league performance and he left in March 2004.
When Klinsmann succeeded Rudi Völler as the head coach of the Germany national team following a disappointing UEFA Euro 2004, he brought Löw into the setup as assistant manager. During their reign, Klinsmann and Löw’s team reached the semi-final stage at the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2006 FIFA World Cup.
He succeeded Klinsmann as the national team manager after the 2006 World Cup and was tasked with winning Euro 2008. They did reach the final but came up short against Spain.
Germany started the 2014 World Cup as one of the favourites. But it wasn’t until the semi-final that the people took them seriously as contenders. They shocked the world with 7-1 win over hosts Brazil to set up a final against Lionel Messi’s Argentina. Mario Götze netted the winner and Löw had masterminded the country’s first World Cup success since 1990.
Löw is an idealist. He wants his teams to play football the right way. But at the same time he’s not one to have quixotic visions like some managers. He won’t over compensate in attack if it’s to the detriment of his defence.
He’s always looking for balance.
Upon his appointment in 2006 he was particularly concerned with the amount of time his players held on to the ball before passing. He’s addressed this and over the coming years, and the speed the German national team play at has quickened.
They look to get the ball forward, to their dangerous players as quickly as possible. They aren’t afraid to play a risky pass and he makes sure his players know he’s not against them going long to mix it up on occasion.
When they get into the swing of things they are frighteningly good, as shown when they dismantled England at the 2010 World Cup.
It’s difficult to assess a manager’s longevity while his career is still in progress. However, it is worth noting that ever since Löw has been involved with the national side they have reached the semi-final of every competition they have been involved in.
He’s a manager who promotes youth and rewards fine form and it’s why, along with the fact Germany are producing some of the world’s best talents, he’s been able to consistently keep his squad fresh and firing. There’s no reason to think there’s an expiry date on his methods.
Löw will always have a place in German football history as the man who secured his nation’s fourth World Cup triumph. Under his management Germany have become a force once again on the international stage and continually get to the latter stages of tournaments.
He’s put his own spin on the traditional German style but he’s managed to appease the public; that’s no easy feat. Dunga deprived Brazil of samba football and the French lacked va-va-voom under Didier Deschamps. Both nations lost their identity under managers looking to imprint their own ideas but Germany kept theirs.
He’ll be remembered for winning the World Cup but perhaps his greatest achievement is piecing together a squad full of world class players and turning them into a team who are consistently able to compete. Many have tried and few have succeeded. Just because you have the best players at your disposal doesn’t mean you have the best team.