Germany 2014 FIFA World Cup Squad: Player-by-Player Guide
Germany coach Joachim Low announced his provisional squad for the 2014 World Cup on Thursday, turning quite a few heads in the process.
The initial 30-man roster will have to be trimmed down to 23 by June 2. And while it appears that Low is decided on the required minimum of three goalkeepers in his squad, competition should be fierce among some of his less experienced players.
Uncapped duo Max Meyer and Leon Goretzka were surprise nominations, while under-21 captain Kevin Volland and Erik Durm were also called up to the senior national team for the first time. Matthias Ginter, Shkodran Mustafi and Andre Hahn were also recalled after having been called to the national team for the first time in March.
Elsewhere, longtime absentee Sami Khedira made the squad despite not having played a minute of competitive football since November, while the currently injured Mario Gomez, who spent almost the entire season sidelined with injuries, was omitted.
In spite of an increasingly apparent bottleneck of talent still short of its prime, Germany's squad continues to evolve. The coming weeks will be interesting for followers of the Mannschaft as Low's chosen 30 aim to make the final cut.
Low's selection contains a wide range of players of diverse backgrounds, each with a unique story of how he reached this point in his career. Click "Begin Slideshow" for profiles of all 30 players listed in the provisional Germany squad.
Name: Manuel Neuer
Date of Birth: March 27, 1986
Birthplace: Gelsenkirchen, West Germany
Club: Bayern Munich
Neuer joined Schalke at the age of five. He advanced through the ranks of the club's world-renowned youth academy and, as a 20-year-old, became the No. 1 goalkeeper at Schalke.
The shot-stopper gained notoriety for heroic displays against Porto (2008) and Manchester United (2011) in the Champions League. On the international stage, he won the 2009 under-21 European Championship with Germany and, a year later, started for the senior side at the World Cup.
By 2011, Neuer's profile had grown to the point that many regarded him as the world's best goalkeeper. It was that summer when he completed his long-awaited move from his hometown club to Bayern Munich. Neuer has since won two Bundesliga titles and a treble with the Bavarians and is indisputable as Germany's No. 1 between the posts.
At a price of €22 million that has since inflated to €27 million due to performance-based triggers, Neuer is the second-most expensive goalkeeper of all time.
Early in his first season at Bayern, Neuer kept opponents scoreless for a club-record 1,147 minutes.
Name: Roman Weidenfeller
Date of Birth: August 6, 1980
Birthplace: Diez, West Germany
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Roman Weidenfeller was well-regarded as a goalkeeping talent in his youth and made six appearances for the German under-17 team. But the Diez native soon fell off the radar of the international setup. Although he joined a strong Dortmund team in 2002, it wasn't long before BVB suffered a financial collapse that left him a goalkeeper at a struggling, modest Bundesliga side.
Things changed for Weidenfeller after Jurgen Klopp's arrival at Dortmund in 2008, and since then, the goalkeeper has emerged as a leader and a top-class player.
Although formally a vice-captain, he often served as captain, deputizing for the oft-injured Sebastian Kehl. His experience in a young Dortmund side helped lead the team to back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012, as well as the DFB-Pokal in 2012. And his calming presence and superb reflexes between the posts played a huge role in Dortmund's run to the 2013 Champions League final.
By the time began to gain notoriety as a top goalkeeper, Weidenfeller was no longer young. That perhaps cost him more recognition in the national team, in which Low has always preferred long-term options over experienced veterans with only a few years left at the highest level.
But due to the inability of Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Ron-Robert Zieler to make a positive impression in their several caps, as well as Rene Adler's poor form at relegation-battling Hamburg, Low had little choice but to call up Weidenfeller for friendlies last November. He finally earned his first cap in a match against England and now can expect to be Neuer's backup at the World Cup.
Although he's known as a longstanding Dortmund player, Weidenfeller played alongside Miroslav Klose at Kaiserslautern early in his career.
Weidenfeller is the oldest-ever Germany player to make his international debut, at 33 years, three months and 13 days.
Name: Ron-Robert Zieler
Date of Birth: February 12, 1989
Birthplace: Koln, West Germany
Ron-Robert Zieler was born in Koln and, at the age of 10, began to play for local side 1. FC Koln. His talent was soon recognized by Manchester United scouts, and six years later he moved to England, where he quickly found his way into the under-18 team. On the international stage, he was named starting goalkeeper for Germany's under-19 team, which won the 2008 European Championship.
Things would soon take a decisive turn for the worse for Zieler, however; he had a fruitless loan spell at Northampton Town and suffered an arm fracture. After his return he lost his spot in the United reserves for good.
Zieler was given a trial at Hannover in the spring of 2010 and later signed a two-year contract. He became a starter within six months of his joining the Lower Saxony side, and in August of 2011 he was called up to Low's national team for the first time.
Zieler has yet to win a game with Germany, although he's only made two appearances. His inclusion in Low's preliminary squad is somewhat controversial considering Hannover's rather lackluster season, but that may not matter unless both Neuer and Weidenfeller are unavailable to play due to suspension and/or injury.
Zieler was shown a red card during a friendly match against Argentina in 2012, making him the first Germany goalkeeper to be sent off in international competition.
Zieler conceded three goals in his debut for Germany in a 3-3 draw with Ukraine. He was the first German goalkeeper since 1954 to concede three goals in his debut.
Name: Jerome Boateng
Date of Birth: September 3, 1988
Birthplace: West Berlin, West Germany
Club: Bayern Munich
Jerome Boateng is among several current senior Germany internationals who are alumni of the under-21 side that won the European Championship in 2009. The Berlin native formed a strong partnership with Benedikt Howedes in central defense during that tournament, although at club side Hamburg he was often used at right-back.
Boateng was given his first senior cap against Russia in October 2009, when he became the first German player to be sent off in his debut. Nonetheless, Low kept faith in him, and when Holger Badstuber struggled at the beginning of the 2010 World Cup, Boateng was called upon to replace him at left-back.
Manchester City were impressed by Boateng's quality on the flank and signed him in 2010. But the defender was out of his natural position and poor performances that also coincided with several injuries resulted in him being labeled surplus to requirements.
After just a year in England, Boateng moved back to Germany, where he soon found himself starting at center-back with Bayern Munich. He had some problems initially, but under Jupp Heynckes' tutelage, he flourished. His performance in the 2013 Champions League was outstanding, and ever since then he has been a constant presence in the starting lineup for Low's national team.
Boateng's brother, Kevin-Prince, represents Ghana at international level. The two faced one another at the 2010 World Cup.
Boateng has started Germany's last seven competitive and friendly matches. His partner in central defense has included Mats Hummels and Per Mertesacker.
Name: Erik Durm
Date of Birth: May 12, 1992
Birthplace: Pirmasens, Germany
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Erik Durm's road to the German national team is an strange one indeed. Born in Pirmasens along the German border with France, he began his football career rather isolated from Germany's big clubs. But after impressing in two seasons at Saarbrucken, Mainz snapped him up in 2011.
Durm spent two years at Mainz, but was just one of several physically robust, fast, young strikers out of a crop of talent that included Shawn Parker and Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting. He joined Dortmund in the summer of 2012, playing in the reserves a league higher than he had with Mainz II.
Still, it was not until the fall of 2013 that Durm managed to make an impression. And it was not at all what he had set out to do.
Instead of breaking into the first team as a forward, he was used as emergency cover at left-back when Marcel Schmelzer was injured. Over the course of the season, he amassed 19 Bundesliga appearances and seven more in the Champions League, with his heroics against Real Madrid and Bayern Munich earning him consideration as a potential call-up to the senior national team.
And now he's made Low's preliminary squad as a left-back in a testament to his adaptability and work ethic.
Durm was a striker two seasons ago, a winger last year and a left-back this season.
His two assists this season both came in the Champions League.
Name: Kevin Grosskreutz
Date of Birth: July 19, 1988
Birthplace: Dortmund, West Germany
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Although perhaps missing a bit of footballing quality, Kevin Grosskreutz is to Borussia Dortmund what Philipp Lahm is to Bayern Munich.
Born and raised in Dortmund, the versatile wide player grew up watching his hometown heroes every week. It was not until 2009, by which time he was 21 years of age, that he convinced the club of his ability.
Grosskreutz won over Jurgen Klopp with his spirited, energetic style of play. His work rate and quickness made up for his modest talent on the ball and also made him adaptable to several positions. To date, he's played everywhere on the pitch, including goalkeeper.
Low first called up Grosskreutz for his Germany team in the weeks that preceded the 2010 World Cup. He was not ready at the time as a modest attacking midfielder who had too much competition for a role in the team. But four years later, he's found his way back into the squad as a defender, with his performances deputizing for Lukasz Piszczek at Dortmund having greatly increased his stock.
Grosskreutz can play on either wing, both in attacking and defensive roles, and his adaptability will be seen as a big bonus to Low at the World Cup. As such, he should expect to make the final cut.
As a boy, Grosskreutz slept in black and yellow linens in honor of his favorite football club, BVB.
Dortmund have won all 20 games in which Grosskreutz has scored.
Name: Benedikt Howedes
Date of Birth: February 29, 1988
Birthplace: Haltern, West Germany
Benedikt Howedes is one of four players in Low's preliminary squad to have graduated from the Schalke academy. The center-back, who was raised not far from Gelsenkirchen, joined the Royal Blues academy at the age of 13 and has been a Schalke man ever since.
Although overlooked at under-17 level, Howedes was a regular starter for Germany's under-19 and under-21 national teams; with the under-21s he partnered Jerome Boateng in central defense in the team that won the 2009 European Championship.
At club level, Howedes made his debut in late 2007 and was a regular starter within a year. Initially used as a utility defender in all positions defensive, including in midfield, he eventually moved to a semi-permanent position in central defense. He has, however, often featured at right-back for Germany.
Howedes is the captain of Schalke and has been ever since 2011, when Manuel Neuer left for Bayern Munich. Although he's spent much of 2013-14 sidelined with injuries, he is admired for his leadership, which could be a difference-maker at the World Cup.
Howedes was awarded the Fritz Walter gold medal in 2007, honoring him as Germany's best under-19 player.
Howedes has played just 18 Bundesliga games this season.
Name: Mats Hummels
Date of Birth: December 16, 1988
Birthplace: Bensberg, West Germany
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Mats Hummels was born in Bergische Gladbach, but his family moved to Munich in his childhood and he joined Bayern at the age of six. Although recognized by the club for his immense talent, he played a muted role in the German youth national teams, with his mid-December birthday putting him at a disadvantage relative to some of his competitors, some of whom were nearly a full year older.
The defender was given a professional contract at Bayern three days after his 18th birthday and sent to Dortmund on loan a month later. The center-back soon became first-choice at BVB, who reached an agreement to sign him on a full transfer in February 2009.
That summer he played a rather minor role for the German under-21 team that won the European Championship, but was given a surprise start in the final and played an excellent game in Germany's 4-0 win over England.
Hummels made his international debut in a friendly against Malta in May 2010, but did not make the cut for Low's World Cup squad. He won the Bundesliga with Dortmund in each of the next two seasons, as well as the 2011-12 DFB-Pokal, and Low had little choice but to start him at Euro 2012.
The European Championship went exceptionally well for Hummels until the very end, when a costly error against Italy led to a goal conceded in a 2-1 loss. Since then, he's had to fight for his spot in Low's team; as of now, it seems a dead heat between him and Per Mertesacker for the central defensive position alongside Jerome Boateng.
Hummels' father Hermann, served as Bayern Munich's youth coordinator until March 2012.
Hummels has the best goal-scoring rate among Germany defenders, averaging one every 14 games.
Name: Marcell Jansen
Date of Birth: November 4, 1985
Marcell Jansen was born in Monchengladbach and joined the local team, VfL Borussia Monchengladbach, at the age of seven. The left-back rose through the club's youth ranks and became a starter in the spring of 2005. Well-regarded as a rising star, Jansen was capped in September 2005 and became a starter for his national team ahead of the 2006 World Cup.
The World Cup did not go well for Jansen, who was benched after a subpar opener. Bayern Munich nonetheless believed in his talent and signed him from Gladbach the following summer.
Jansen played just 17 games in 2007-08 and was sold to Hamburg after just one season. He's since had his ups and downs, but rarely played for Germany at tournaments despite there being a relative dearth of competition for the left-back position.
Nonetheless, and despite Hamburg's struggles this season, Jansen has been called up once more to the German national team. It will likely be a head-to-head between him and Erik Durm for a spot in the final squad.
At €18 million, Jansen's combined career transfer sum exceeds that of any of Germany's current full-backs.
At 1.91 meters, Jansen is the tallest of Germany's full-backs and taller than two of the five center-backs called up to Low's preliminary squad.
Name: Philipp Lahm
Date of Birth: November 11, 1983
Birthplace: Munich, West Germany
Club: Bayern Munich
A Munich native, Philipp Lahm is and, for a very long time, has been "Mr. Bayern." The defender joined the record German champions at the age of 12 and, apart from a loan spell at Stuttgart early in his professional career, has ever since represented his hometown club.
The diminutive Lahm was not always seen as a top prospect, but made big strides at Stuttgart and earned his first cap in 2004 in the midst of his loan. He came back to Bayern a fully capped international and well-regarded full-back, although a torn anterior cruciate ligament delayed his integration into the squad that boasted Willy Sagnol and Bixente Lizarazu as full-backs.
Lahm eventually forced his way into the Bayern lineup ahead of the aging Lizarazu, and the rest is history. Although soft-spoken, his quiet leadership and calm nerves while under pressure earned him the respect of coaches and peers alike, with big-game performances (particularly his stunning and rather surprising winner against Turkey at Euro 2008) giving him a reputation as a hero of club and country.
When Michael Ballack was forced to withdraw from the Germany squad ahead of the 2010 World Cup, Lahm became captain of his country. And when Mark van Bommel left Bayern Munich, Lahm was named captain of his club as well. He's held both positions ever since, leading Bayern to back-to-back Bundesliga titles and an historic treble in 2013.
And now he'll aim to provide the inspiration for Germany as they look to end their longest-ever trophy drought.
Lahm, in 2010, became Germany's youngest-ever World Cup captain at the age of 27.
In his professional career, Lahm has been sent off zero times.
Name: Per Mertesacker
Date of Birth: September 29, 1984
Birthplace: Hannover, West Germany
Per Mertesacker is one of Germany's most senior players, with his introduction to the senior national team dating back to around the same time the likes of Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski were integrated into the team.
Born in Hannover, Mertesacker joined local club Hannover 96 at the age of 11 and remained until just before his 22nd birthday. By that time he'd already made several appearances for Jurgen Klinsmann's Germany side, with his debut coming against Iran in a friendly in October 2004.
His impressive performance at the 2006 World Cup led to his move to Bremen later that summer and gave him the reputation of being the Mannschaft's next great center-back in an era in which good, young interior defenders were rare to be found in Germany.
Mertesacker won the DFB-Pokal with Bremen in 2008-09 and finished runner-up in the Pokal, Bundesliga and UEFA Cup during his stay at the Weserstadion. He also was a part of the German teams that finished third in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups and runners-up at Euro 2008.
Mertesacker joined Arsenal in August 2011 and has since been a regular starter at the London club. He missed Euro 2012 due to an ankle injury, though, and the emergence of Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels mean that he no longer is a certain starter for Germany. But he has experience and a great record in tournaments, and has a great chance of earning a century of caps in the coming months.
Arsenal fans have dubbed Mertesacker the "BFG," which has the double meaning of "Big F****** German" (after a Sky Germany broadcaster uttered that phrase live on air) and alluding to author Roald Dahl's character, the Big Friendly Giant.
Mertesacker has been shown a yellow card just 25 times in over 500 professional matches.
Name: Shkodran Mustafi
Date of Birth: April 17, 1992
Birthplace: Bad Hersfeld, Germany
Shkodran Mustafi's story in becoming a Germany international is a unique one on many levels. Born in Bad Hersfeld to Albanian parents, he spent three years at Hamburg before joining Everton at the age of 17.
Mustafi never made a single Premier League appearance in two-and-a-half years at Everton and was released in January 2012. Sampdoria recognized his talent and quickly signed him on a free transfer.
It took a full year to adjust and begin to assert himself, but Mustafi developed into a first-team player at the Serie A side in early 2013. In the current campaign, he's taken the next step in his career and was called up to Low's team to face Chile in March. And now, he's earned a second consecutive call to the Mannschaft as Low prepares for the World Cup.
Despite playing abroad, Mustafi was always tracked by the DFB throughout his days as a youth. He made 61 appearances for the German youth national teams from under-16 to under-21 levels.
Mustafi is the only player in Low's provisional squad who has never played a single minute of professional football on German soil.
Name: Marcel Schmelzer
Date of Birth: January 22, 1988
Birthplace: Magdeburg, East Germany
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Along with Toni Kroos, Marcel Schmelzer is one of two current Germany internationals to have been born in East Germany. The left-back played for Fortuna and later FC Magdeburg during his youth before joining Dortmund at the age of 20 in 2008.
Schmelzer served as Dede's deputy early in his BVB career, and his development led to his being called up to the German under-21 national team. He won the 2009 European Championship with the youth national side, although he was second-choice to Sebastian Boenisch at left-back.
Due to repeated injuries to Dede, Schmelzer soon became a full-time starter at Dortmund and in November 2010 was given his debut cap as part of an experimental Germany side. He's since nailed down a starting role for Germany, but will face serious competition in the coming years as Erik Durm and others look to make their way into the national setup.
Schmelzer's native Magdeburg, fittingly, translates from Old High German as "mighty fortress."
Due to repeated muscular injuries, Schmelzer has made just 17 Bundesliga appearances this season.
Name: Lars Bender
Date of Birth: April 27, 1989
Birthplace: Rosenheim, West Germany
Position: Defensive midfield
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Lars Bender and his twin brother Sven were born in Rosenheim in 1989. The pair spent most of their early football years together, forming the central midfield of whichever team for which they played. Both had very similar attributes, with Lars a bit more capable on the ball and Sven the slightly more reserved, defensive type.
The Bender twins advanced through the 1860 Munchen youth teams and were promoted to first-team status at age 17 in 2006. Two years later they won the under-19 European Championship with Germany, after which time they began to garner considerable interest from up-and-coming Bundesliga sides. They finally split up the next summer, with Sven joining Dortmund and Lars heading to Leverkusen.
Lars has arguably had the better career individually thus far and has been rewarded in the form of his being capped 17 times. Although used only sparingly, he's scored an impressive four goals for the senior national team, including a late winner against Denmark at Euro 2012.
Known for his near-superhuman work rate, Lars Bender is capable of playing in defensive midfield as well as at right-back. He offers unique qualities in the Germany team and therefore should favor his chances of being included in Low's final squad.
Bender once joked (per DFB.de) that he sees himself as a "false nine."
Bender's four goals for Germany have come from just five shots.
Name: Julian Draxler
Date of Birth: September 20, 1993
Birthplace: Gladbeck, Germany
Position: Left wing
When Julian Draxler was promoted to the Schalke senior team in January 2011, it looked to be another bizarre squad selection choice by Felix Magath, who by that time had become notorious for using any and every possible player at least once. But the critics would soon be found wrong: Draxler's introduction to first-team football was instead an inspired decision.
At 17 years of age, Draxler became the fourth-youngest player in Bundesliga history. He showed promise in his first half-season at professional level, but has since struggled to take the next step. He's been brilliant at times, but lacked the end product. And he's spent a considerable part of the current campaign sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Still, Draxler is an immensely talented player and one that Low accordingly has nominated to his provisional squad. He did the same in 2012, when Draxler was still 18, but the player was dropped before the European Championship. He's of age now, but risks missing out on the World Cup unless he makes a seriously positive impression in the coming weeks.
Although used almost exclusively on the wing at Schalke, Draxler's favorite position is in the center behind a main striker.
Earlier this month, Draxler became the youngest-ever player to amass 100 appearances in the Bundesliga.
Name: Matthias Ginter
Date of Birth: January 19, 1994
Birthplace: Freiburg, Germany
Despite Joachim Low always keeping a close eye on Freiburg, near his hometown of Schonau, Matthias Ginter flew under the radar of Germany scouts and did not receive a call up to any of the youth national teams until under-18 level. Christian Streich noticed the player's ability and, with Freiburg headed toward relegation in the spring of 2012, took a chance in putting the midfielder in his lineup.
Streich's gambit proved to be an inspired decision as Ginter came on as an attacking midfielder and scored the winner in a 20-minute debut appearance off the bench. He was soon converted to center-back and has switched primarily between the center of defense and holding midfield ever since.
Still just 20 years of age, Ginter has two-and-a-half seasons of professional football under his belt after his performances caught Low's eye. He made his debut for Germany in a recent friendly with Chile and now stands a good chance of making the final cut for the World Cup squad. His versatility in being able to play almost anywhere in the center of the pitch makes him worth more than one place in the 23-man roster.
Although he is best known as a center-back, Ginter was trained as a holding midfielder and has played in attacking midfield and as a center forward during his still-young professional career.
Ginter has played in all but one of Freiburg's 42 games this season.
Name: Leon Goretzka
Date of Birth: February 6, 1995
Birthplace: Bochum, Germany
Position: Central midfield
Along with Schalke teammate Max Meyer, Goretzka is one of two players called up to Low's squad who fall into the 1995-born bracket. The Bochum-born midfielder initially struggled to find his way into the Schalke team this season, his previous experience being only 2. Bundesliga football at his hometown club. But in the latter stages of the current campaign, he's made great strides and earned his place in Low's 30-man squad.
Goretzka's development has occurred at a staggering rate. Two years ago, he captained the German under-17 national team to a second-placed finish at the European Championship. He was subsequently promoted to the Bochum first team, and after a good first season in the second division, he earned a move to Schalke.
Among Germany's class of 1995, only Meyer can truly compete with Goretzka's talent. The 19-year-old is unlikely to make Low's final cut, but has a very promising future indeed. Fans of the Mannschaft may soon see him become a first-team regular.
Goretzka was named Germany's best under-17 player in 2012 when he was awarded with the Fritz Walter gold medal.
All four of Goretzka's goals last season came from headers. All five of his goals this season have come from his right foot.
Name: Mario Goetze
Date of Birth: June 3, 1992
Birthplace: Memmingen, Germany
Position: Attacking midfield
Club: Bayern Munich
Considered by many to be Germany's talent of the century, Mario Goetze was born in Memmingen. In his youth, his father took a professorial position at Technische Universitat in Dortmund. He joined Borussia Dortmund at the age of nine and rapidly advanced through the club's youth ranks, debuting with the under-19 side at the age of 16.
In 2009, he won the under-17 European Championship, and in November of that year he made his senior debut at Dortmund. Almost exactly 12 months after his first senior appearance for club, Goetze became a fully capped Germany international. He would go on to win the Bundesliga that season and the domestic double the following year in 2012.
Goetze left Dortmund for Bayern Munich in the summer of 2013 and has since had some teething problems at the German record champions, where he's been used in all attacking positions and even central midfield. But he's come into form as of late and will be raring for a chance to show his quality in his first World Cup.
When Goetze made his first appearance for Germany, he was the youngest German debutant since Uwe Seeler in 1954.
In his first full Bundesliga season, an 18-year-old Goetze assisted 15 goals and scored six himself in league play.
Name: Andre Hahn
Date of Birth: August 13, 1990
Birthplace: Otterndorf, West Germany
Position: Right wing
Andre Hahn is a unique quantity in the Mannschaft and could be a secret weapon at the World Cup. Born in Otterndorf, not far from Hamburg, he joined Hamburger SV as an 18-year-old but failed to assert himself in two seasons in the club's reserves. He moved to lower league sides like FC Oberneuland, TuS Koblenz and Kickers Ofenbach before Augbsurg signed him in January 2013. Things soon changed decisively for the better.
A real late bloomer, Hahn, at 23 years of age, has had the kind of developmental explosion more characteristic of a player in his late teens. After going scoreless in his first semester at Augsburg, he's found the net 11 times and assisted nine more goals in the Bundesliga this season, adding a pair of assists in the DFB-Pokal as well. He was rewarded for his efforts when Low nominated him to his Germany team to face Chile in a recent friendly.
Even in a Germany team that features Lars Bender and Kevin Grosskreutz, Hahn's work rate is superlative. According to Sport1, he's made more sprints in the Bundesliga than any of his international teammates and covered more ground than all players other than Matthias Ginter, who has the advantage of having played in two more games than Hahn.
Much like David Odonkor in years past, Hahn could be the spark plug off the bench to inject a sense of pace and urgency into the German attack.
Hahn was never called up to any youth national team at any level.
A real speed demon, Hahn was clocked by Sport1 at 35.38 kph earlier this season.
Name: Sami Khedira
Date of Birth: April 4, 1987
Position: Defensive midfield
Club: Real Madrid
Sami Khedira's story is one that shows just how important perseverance and work ethic can be in a player's career. Born in Stuttgart, he joined the VfB Stuttgart academy at the age of eight. He spent 11 years in the club's youth ranks before joining the senior side.
Early in his professional career, Khedira's progress was blighted by injuries. But he showed real leadership abilities and was named captain of the German under-21 national team, which he eventually led to the European Championship title in 2009.
Khedira was nowhere near being on the radar with the senior national team as the 2010 World Cup approached, but fate intervened as Michael Ballack, Simon Rolfes and Heiko Westermann sustained injuries that kept them out of the tournament in South Africa. Khedira became the full-time starter alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger and earned a transfer to Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid later in the summer.
Khedira has since developed into a very useful role player in Madrid and with Germany. He's superlative in the air and has great physical strength. And he knows his abilities and limitations on the ball. He's a big-game performer and had the best spell of his career at Euro 2012.
Due to his diligence in completing his rehabilitation following surgery on a torn anterior cruciate ligament last November, Khedira has found himself in Low's preliminary squad for the 2014 World Cup. He faces an uphill battle for form and fitness, but if there is any player who can overcome the rather substantial odds, it's him.
Khedira's younger brother, Rani, made his debut with Stuttgart earlier this season.
Khedira's second goal in La Liga, scored against Barcelona in April 2012, was Real Madrid's 108th goal of the 2011-12 season. That tally broke the previous record of 107.
Name: Toni Kroos
Date of Birth: January 4, 1990
Birthplace: Greifswald, East Germany
Position: Central midfield
Club: Bayern Munich
Although he is just 24 years old, Toni Kroos’ talent has been widely known for at least seven years. In 2007, he led Germany to a third-placed finish at the under-17 World Cup and was named the tournament’s best player. Weeks later, he became the youngest player ever to debut for Bayern Munich and gave two assists in an 18-minute substitute’s appearance.
Kroos’ career hasn’t always gone smoothly; he played out of position as a winger at Bayern in his early years and, with his progress stagnating for lack of playing time, was sent on an 18-month loan to Leverkusen in early 2009.
The Leverkusen loan was hugely influential to Kroos’ career, and just over a year after joining Bayer Leverkusen he earned his first international cap in a friendly with Argentina. The midfielder was named to Joachim Low’s 23-man squad for the 2010 World Cup, but played a muted role.
Kroos has since been a regular part of the Germany team, although his role to date has been one of a substitute. He’s served as deputy to Bastian Schweinsteiger, but rarely started in defensive midfield alongside his Bayern teammate; Low has often preferred the more defensively capable Sami Khedira.
Kroos has also deputized for Mesut Ozil in the playmaker role, but the Arsenal man’s starting spot has never been in danger. And thus, Kroos had little chance to make an impact at Euro 2012, managing just a few minutes off the bench before being a surprise starter in the semifinal.
This season has seen Kroos take the next step in his development and that coupled with injuries in the German squad could see him play a much bigger role for the DFB team than he did in 2010 and 2012. Low has long been a fan of his talent on the ball, his distribution and shooting technique, and he could yet be a key player for the Mannschaft in Brazil.
Kroos is the youngest player born in East Germany to have represented the unified Mannschaft.
Kroos scored and gave three assists in his first 27 minutes as a professional footballer.
Name: Maximilian Meyer
Date of Birth: September 18, 1995
Birthplace: Oberhausen, Germany
Position: Attacking midfield
At 18 years of age, Max Meyer is the youngest player in Low's provisional squad. And yet, the Schalke man's inclusion is by no means the biggest surprise in the Mannschaft team.
Meyer was named the best player at the under-17 European Championship in which his Germany finished runners-up to the Netherlands. The following season he made the leap from Schalke's under-19 team to the senior squad, debuting on February 9, 2013, as a substitute against Bayern Munich. He gave his first assist a week later.
At the beginning of the 2013-14 season, Meyer was given the famous No. 7 shirt, which had been unclaimed since Raul left the club in 2012. The youngster has had an excellent first season at professional level, scoring seven goals and assisting four more in the Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB-Pokal. For his fine performances, Meyer was given a contract extension that will run until 2018.
A central playmaker with exquisite technical ability in tight areas, Meyer has a keen eye for a pass and outstanding dribbling ability. He may not make the final cut before the World Cup, but expect Meyer to be a key part of the German national team in the years to come.
Meyer attributes his technical skill to his training in futsal, which he played throughout his youth.
At 17 years, four months and 28 days, Meyer became the second-youngest Schalke player to make his Bundesliga debut. Draxler was the youngest.
Name: Thomas Mueller
Date of Birth: September 13, 1989
Birthplace: Weilheim, West Germany
Position: Attacking midfield
Club: Bayern Munich
Thomas Mueller is a truly rare talent whose qualities often go underappreciated. Even in his youth, the attacker was undervalued by the DFB; he earned six caps for the German under-16 team in 2004 and 2005, but was never part of the under-17 side.
Louis van Gaal recognized Muller’s talent, however, and quickly promoted the Weilheim native to the Bayern Munich first team. Even before his 20th birthday, Muller was a regular substitute, and after scoring two braces in three days in September 2009, it was clear that he had to be promoted to the starting lineup.
From September 2009 until the end of the 2009-10 campaign, Muller started every match except one, for which he was suspended. He scored 13 goals and gave 11 assists in his debut season, and in March he earned his first cap for Germany in a friendly with Argentina.
After falling just one match short of a treble with Bayern, Mueller was named to Low’s World Cup squad and was a starter on the right wing, taking on the role recently made vacant due to Bastian Schweinsteiger’s conversion from winger to defensive midfielder.
Mueller scored in Germany’s opener against Australia, twice in the round of 16 with England, once in the quarterfinal with Argentina and again in the third-place match against Uruguay. His five goals and three assists won him the Golden Boot Award, and he was named Best Young Player at the tournament.
Four years later, Mueller is now a household name among even casual football fans, although he still is perhaps somewhat underrated. He was benched during the knockout rounds of Euro 2012, for example, and was left out of the Bayern starting lineup under Pep Guardiola for some key games this season.
Germany rarely lose when Mueller plays, though, and his record in 2010 will be a stern warning to any opponents to be wary of the 24-year-old, whose work rate, intelligence, strength and eye for goal make him a perfect fit in Low’s squad.
In 2010, Mueller became the first player aged 20 years or below since Pele to score five goals at a World Cup.
Mueller made just 16 appearances for the German youth team from under-16 and up. He's since earned nearly three times as many senior caps.
Name: Mesut Ozil
Date of Birth: October 15, 1988
Birthplace: Gelsenkirchen, West Germany
Position: Attacking midfield
Mesut Ozil was born in Gelsenkirchen to second-generation Turkish immigrants. In his early years, he played street football with the likes of Ilkay Gundogan and other rising stars of the Ruhr area. After five years at small local clubs, he moved to Rot-Weiss Essen as an 11-year-old, and at 16 he joined the Schalke academy.
Ozil was the first of several highly talented playmakers to emerge from Schalke's acclaimed youth system, with current international colleagues Julian Draxler and Max Meyer among the others. The player left for Werder Bremen in 2008, though, after failing to come to an agreement with S04 over wages.
At Bremen, Ozil's career began to take off. He played alongside Diego as a second playmaker and led Werder to lift the DFB-Pokal in 2009, scoring the winner in the final. He also helped Bremen advance to the final of the last-ever UEFA Cup. Months later, he starred for the German under-21 side that won the European Championship. He claimed man-of-the-match honors, scoring one goal and assisting two more in the final.
After the under-21 Euros, Ozil quickly became a regular starter in Low's Germany team, and the trainer built his attack around the creative prodigy. Ozil assisted 32 goals in his first two Bundesliga seasons and was one of the best young players at the 2010 World Cup, after which he was signed by Real Madrid.
Ozil's performance was staggering, by the numbers, in Madrid: in three years he scored 42 goals and assisted 102 more in all competitions for club and country. But heading into the 2013-14 campaign he was deemed surplus to requirements and sold to Arsenal.
In part due to injuries to himself and key teammates, Ozil's first season at the Emirates has not always been successful. Especially given how close Germany have come to international glory during his time as his country's main attacking outlet, he'll look to silence the doubters at the 2014 World Cup.
At €50 million, Ozil's transfer from Real Madrid to Arsenal commanded the highest-ever fee of a German footballer.
As of May 9, Ozil is credited with having given 181 assists in all senior-level competitions for club and country during his career.
Name: Lukas Podolski
Date of Birth: June 4, 1985
Birthplace: Gliwice, Poland
Lukas Podolski was born in Gliwice, Poland, to ethnic Polish parents who moved to Germany early in his childhood. He joined Koln at the age of 10 and broke into the first team eight years later in 2003.
Podolski scored 10 goals in an abbreviated first season in the Bundesliga, but was unable to prevent his team from being relegated. Rudi Voller recognized his abundant talent and on June 6, 2004, gave Podolski his first cap for Germany.
With many thanks to Podolski's 24 league goals, Koln were promoted back to the first division in 2005. The young striker continued to progress and made a real breakthrough at the 2006 World Cup in which he was named the tournament's best young player. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Bayern Munich.
Podolski's time in Munich proved to be rather fruitless and he, a bench-warmer for much of his stay at the Allianz Arena, was sold back to Koln in 2009.
After a poor first season back with his hometown club, Podolski became the hero he had promised to be. He scored 32 Bundesliga goals in his last two seasons at Effzeh, before being another chance at a big club in 2012. Arsenal made him an offer, and the striker accepted.
Podolski's hit-or-miss club form and technical limitations as a winger have seen his minutes for Germany limited in recent years, but there's reason to believe he could be a key player for the Mannschaft in Brazil. He has an abundance of experience in tournament play and has come into a fine spell of form at Arsenal in the last month or so. He could yet be a secret weapon in Low's plans.
Podolski was prepared to represent Poland at international level, but was turned down. Shortly thereafter, he accepted an offer by Germany.
Podolski's opener against Ecuador in a friendly in May 2013 was the second-fastest international goal in history. It took him nine seconds to break the deadlock.
Name: Marco Reus
Date of Birth: May 31, 1989
Birthplace: Dortmund, West Germany
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Marco Reus was born in Dortmund and played for Borussia Dortmund from the ages of seven to 17. He then left for Rot Weiss Ahlen, where he spent three years developing before being spotted by Borussia Monchengladbach, who signed him on a four-year contract.
Reus' career began to take off at Gladbach, where he had a knack for scoring stunning, if intermittent, goals. His first in the Bundesliga came following a 50-meter run, and he became reliable as a player who could score from solo sprints or from distance with either foot.
Although he scored a combined 20 goals in his first two seasons at Gladbach, Reus reached the next level in 2011-12, when he began to score more regularly.
He began to score more ordinary goals, scoring 21 and assisting 14 more in 37 appearances for Gladbach in all competitions. He also finally broke into the German national team, although minor injuries limited his appearances prior to Euro 2012, and as a result he was unable to nail down a starting role prior to the tournament.
Dortmund closely tracked their former youth player's progress and in January 2012 secured his transfer from the summer. Since joining BVB, Reus has become a household name. He scored 24 goals and assisted 20 in his first season at the Signal-Iduna Park, and as of May 9 has scored and assisted 23 apiece in 2013-14.
Reus has gained notoriety as a big-game player, recently coming close to single-handedly eliminating Real Madrid from the Champions League. He's directly contributed to five goals in six career appearances against the Blancos and has only found the target more against Mainz and Wolfsburg than Bayern.
Heading into the World Cup, Reus is in the form of his life. He can expect to be given a starting role for the first time in a major international tournament and this time will have heavy expectations.
Due to his diminutive stature, Reus was rejected by Dortmund in his youth.
In 93 appearances over the last three seasons, Reus has scored 48 goals and assisted 37 more.
Name: Andre Schurrle
Date of Birth: November 6, 1990
Birthplace: Ludwigshafen, Germany
Andre Schurrle was born in Ludwigshafen and, at the age of six, joined local side Ludwigshafener SC. At the age of 15 he moved to Mainz, where he would spend five years. During his time in the Mainz youth academy, he won the under-19 Bundesliga, and after three seasons in the academy he was promoted to the senior team.
Schurrle played all but one Bundesliga game in the 2009-10 campaign, but it was not until the following season that he made his big breakthrough. A versatile winger with the scoring capabilities of a striker, Schurrle found the net 15 times during the 2010-11 campaign, earning his international debut shortly after his 20th birthday.
Bayer Leverkusen were quick to recognize Schurrle's talent and, in September 2010, secured his transfer for the following summer. Schurrle never quite settled in at Leverkusen and did not quite produce the same results as he had at Mainz, but his prolific scoring record for Germany and the quality of some rather stunning goals earned him the admiration of incoming Chelsea trainer Jose Mourinho.
The attacker transferred to CFC in the summer of 2013 and has since performed well in spurts, although he's spent most of the season in Willian's shadow.
Schurrle faces an uphill battle for recognition at both club and international level, although he should expect to have some chances at the World Cup. His ability to play center-forward is a big advantage in a team that is rather short of strikers, and his versatility in being able to play on either wing should see him earn playing time at least as a substitute.
When he made his debut for Germany in the 78th minute of their friendly with Sweden on November 17, 2010, Schurrle (along with Goetze) became the first player born in reunified Germany to earn an international cap for the Mannschaft.
Prior to Euro 2012, Schurrle, on average, contributed to a goal in every 84.5 minutes played for Germany.
Name: Bastian Schweinstegier
Date of Birth: August 1, 1984
Birthplace: Kolbermoor, West Germany
Position: Defensive midfield
Club: Bayern Munich
Like Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger is a symbol of Bayern Munich and Germany. The holding midfielder is vice-captain of his club and his country, having made nearly 500 appearances for club and earned 101 caps at international level.
Schweinsteiger was born in Kolbermoor, Bavaria, and joined Bayern at the age of 14. He was promoted to the reserves in 2002 and debuted under Ottmar Hitzfeld as an 18-year-old. He played the majority of Bayern's games within a year and was given his international debut in 2004 in a friendly against Hungary. Along with Lahm, Podolski and Mertesacker, he was part of a new, promising generation of young German talent.
Although a central midfielder in his youth, Schweinsteiger was used on the wing for much of his early career. He was key to Germany finishing third at the 2006 World Cup, with his two strikes and assist for a third seeing off Portugal in the third-place match. The Bayern man would again haunt Portugal at Euro 2008 in which he scored a shock counterattack goal.
Schweinsteiger was converted to a defensive midfield role under Louis van Gaal at Bayern in early 2009, which saw him take the next step in his career. As a winger, he was impressive. In a central role, he had few peers.
Low finally used Schweinsteiger in the center in a friendly just months before the 2010 World Cup, and the player has played exclusively as a central player ever since. His performance against Argentina in South Africa was one of the best individual displays from a holding midfielder this millennium.
Recent years have been somewhat troubling for Schweinsteiger, who has been plagued by injuries, particularly a bad ankle that has again and again been aggravated. He was not at his best at Euro 2012 in which he played through the pain barrier.
At nearly 30 years of age, Schweinsteiger enters the 2014 World Cup knowing that this will be his last World Cup in his prime. He's been a finalist in one major international tournament and a semi-finalist in three more; in order to solidify his place among the all-time greats, he'll have to pass the final hurdle in Brazil.
Schweinsteiger was a talented youth skier before he opted to pursue a career in football.
Schweinsteiger did not appear in an international friendly match for 938 days (two years, six months and 23 days) in a spell that ended in March.
Name: Miroslav Klose
Date of Birth: June 9, 1978
Birthplace: Opole, Poland
Somewhat of a late bloomer, Klose was nearly 23 before he scored his first goal for Germany and only became a big star at 24 when he found the net five times at the 2002 World Cup.
Klose left Kaiserslautern, the club of his youth, in 2004 and had three very successful seasons at Werder Bremen, particularly the 2005-06 campaign in which he found the net 31 times in all competitions, including 25 in 26 appearances in the Bundesliga.
In 2007, Klose left Bremen for Bayern Munich, where his performance was mixed. After two 20-plus-goal seasons, he fell out of favor and became a substitute. He left for Lazio after four seasons.
Through all the ups and downs of his club career, Klose has been remarkably consistent for Germany. He's only once gone a full year without scoring for country and, despite his advancing years, remains a very dangerous striker.
Klose turns 36 shortly before the World Cup begins and is unlikely to start, but fans can expect to see him play at least as a substitute. He's proven himself a winner time and time again in the past and will look to end his international career on a high note.
With 14 World Cup goals, Klose has only been outscored by Ronaldo.
With 68 international goals, Klose is tied with Gerd Muller as Germany's most prolific scorer of all time.
Name: Kevin Volland
Date of Birth: July 30, 1992
Birthplace: Marktoberdorf, Germany
Amid a drought of strikers in the German academy system, Kevin Volland is one of the few young center-forwards to emerge in recent years who has the quality to be called up to Low's team. The 21-year-old debuted for 1860 Munich in the 2. Bundesliga at the age of 18, and earned a transfer to 1. Bundesliga side Hoffenheim not long thereafter.
It's taken some time, but Volland this season has greatly impressed as he's taken huge strides in his career. A versatile forward who can finish well but also has the skill to play on the wing, he's scored and assisted 10 goals apiece for Hoffe, while also taking on a leadership role as captain of the German under-21 team.
He'll have an uphill battle to fight as he aims for a spot in Low's final squad, but to his credit, he's already displaced Mario Gomez and Pierre-Michel Lasogga. If he impresses in the coming weeks, he could yet make it to Brazil.
Volland is one of two current Germany internationals with roots in the 1860 Munich academy, along with Lars Bender.
Although known as a scorer and listed as a striker, Volland has assisted more goals (22) in his Bundesliga career than he's scored (16).
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