Living in America - Kyle Bekerman says Jürgen Klinsmann's gone native

The German coach faces his home country tomorrow.

Jürgen Klinsmann will have no split loyalties tomorrow.
Jürgen Klinsmann will have no split loyalties tomorrow.
Image: Julio Cortez/AP/Press Association Images

Mikey Stafford reports for from Recife

JÜRGEN KLINSMANN TOMORROW faces his home country at the World Cup as the United States team he coaches take on Germany for top spot in Group G, but US midfielder Kyle Beckerman this afternoon claimed that the 1990 World Cup winner is now an American.

The former Internazionale, Tottenham and Bayern Munich striker has been living in the United States since 1998. Even during his two-year stint in charge of Germany he kept his permanent home in California, only leaving the American West Coast for the nine months of his ill-fated spell in charge of Bayern Munich in 2008-09.

“I think he’s an American now,” said Real Salt Lake player Beckerman when asked if Klinsmann European roots ever shine through on the training field. “He is living in California for so long. I think we have people from all walks of the earth that live in America.

“He is no different. I don’t see much, nothing that comes up.”

Married to an American and raising two children in California, ahead of the tournament Klinsmann signed a new four-year contract to remain as coach with the added remit of Technical Director for US Soccer.

The 49-year-old who guided Germany to third place when they hosted the 2006 World Cup was keen to downplay any conflict he might be feeling ahead of tomorrow afternoon’s match at Arena Pernambuco.

“My family will be a little split, the folks in Germany and my folks in the US. That is just part of it. At the end of the day it is a beautiful game of football tomorrow. I hope everyone will enjoy it,” said Klinsmann, who will be facing his former assistant Joachim Low, who succeeded him as Germany head coach after the 2006 World Cup.

“I’m extremely proud to have this role of leading the US into this World Cup and into the future. It is great times for soccer in the United States. Everywhere the game is growing and in every corner of the country the game is growing. Obviously the players are well aware of what is going on in the US and the tremendous attention that has turned to soccer right now,” said Klinsmann.

Adding to the internecine feel of tomorrow’s encounter is Klinsmann’s tactic of targeting Germans of American origin, with three — Jermaine Jones, John Brooks and Fabian Johnson — already featuring prominently in the opening two matches, a win over Ghana and a draw with Portugal.

“I think none of the German American players think too much of their roots. They are in a family like me, half-half. It is part of globalisation, we grow up all over the world and we have the choice to represent one of two countries because of mom and dad’s situation,’ said Klinsmann.

Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Johnson, operating at right full-back for his adopted country, has been arguably the United States’ standout performer.

Having won a European Under 21 title alongside the likes of Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira, Johnson responded positively to Klinsmann’s overtures when it became clear he would not feature among Low’s first 11.

The 26-year-old does not believe playing against the country of his birth, or his former international team-mates, will influence his performance in any way.

“I played them already in the league, so it is nothing special anymore. I am just excited for this game tomorrow and I am just proud to be part of this team.”

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Mikey Stafford

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