Germans Return Home With World Cup, Already Worried About Next One

Nearly every team left the World Cup on a sour note, having returned with less than the championship they'd played for. The one exception? The Cup-winning Germans, whose victory has reverberated throughout the country. For a look at the symbolic impact of the German triumph, Robert Siegel turns to Angela Stanzel of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

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From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. By definition an elimination tournament, like the World Cup, produces many losers and just one winner. Among the losers, the host country Brazil, which was trounced in a lopsided semifinal, Argentina, led by one of the world's best players, Lionel Messi, saw him fail to score in the last couple of games despite his being commended for his earlier play, and while we could go on and on about the losers, the winner was Germany- indisputable, impressive, disserving and diverse. We thought we'd test this symbolic impact of the German triumph. Joining us is Angela Stanzel of the European Council on Foreign Relations, she's in Berlin. Welcome to the program.

ANGELA STANZEL: Thank you very much.

SIEGEL: And first tell us, how important is this victory to people in Germany? Is there a big psychological boost from it of some sort?

STANZEL: Yes, I think we just got more confidence boost than before. But we have already been economically speaking quite successful. On the other hand, I think I would like to criticize the Germans a little bit because I can see them worrying a lot and not taking the time to celebrate their success. So today, not even 12 hours after winning the world championship, we are already worrying about the next steps and what so we have to achieve. So in terms of soccer, that would be the European championship.

SIEGEL: You mean the euphoria is already over? One day after winning the World Cup?

STANZEL: Yes, we're still having a headache of what's coming next. So I wish that my fellow Germans would just take some time and stop worrying and celebrate.

SIEGEL: One striking feature of this team was how important players like Ozil, whose of Turkish extraction, or Sami Khedira, who didn't play - he was injured, or Boateng, who's of Ghanaian decent, how important they were to team. This is a pretty diverse German national soccer team.

STANZEL: Yes it is. Although that's not really something new I would say. I think we have been very diverse since many years and actually what you just mentioned has already been all over the media during the World Championship in 2006, which took place here in Germany. And then suddenly also us Germans we realized that also the Turkish could identify them with Germany - being German, something we had every Turkish salesman who was called Hassan calling himself Hans or Dirk. So I think this change has been on the way since a couple of years already.

SIEGEL: What is it about the German character (Laughing) that would lead them 12 hours after celebrating in Brazil to start worrying about the next big tournament?

STANZEL: It's always about what can we achieve and what can we make better. It's probably, even in some ways, a kind of obsession and that's what I criticize - that I say why don't we just take a slice from the Brazilians and relax a little bit.

SIEGEL: There have been a lot of very colorful pictures of Germans in national colors, in silly costumes and whooping it up. There's been some celebration hasn't there?

STANZEL: Of course, of course. And yesterday night, in fact, I couldn't sleep until four o'clock in the morning because there were fireworks and honking on the streets all along. But I wished for this to last probably couple of days longer.

SIEGEL: (Laughing) And get back to worrying about the next tournament.

STANZEL: Exactly.

SIEGEL: (Laughing) Well, Angela Stanzel, I'm sorry that Germans can't be having more fun about this.

STANZEL: I will do my part...

(Laughing)

STANZEL: ...To contribute to that.

SIEGEL: Well, we appreciate that and thank you very much for talking with us.

STANZEL: Thank you very much.

SIEGEL: Angela Stanzel, who is a policy fellow at the European Council on foreign relations. She spoke to us from Berlin about the reaction to Germany's winning the World Cup.

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