FIFA World Cup 2010: Germany vs. Ghana, Jerome Boateng vs. Kevin-Prince Boateng
Germany faces Ghana on Wednesday with the winners guaranteed a place in the Last-16. However, the real story of the night will be the battle of opposing brothers as Kevin-Prince Boateng will be representing Ghana while his brother Jerome represents Germany.
Never in the history of football have two brothers taken to the opposite end of the pitch in an international match at the same time.
Although, in 2008 two brothers did play at opposite ends in a friendly between a France "A" team and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Unfortunately neither brother was on the pitch at the same time as the other.
To add further spice to this encounter, neither brother has spoken to the other after Jerome chose to break off contact following Kevin-Prince's much maligned tackle on, German captain, Michael Ballack in the FA Cup Final.
Born to a Ghanaian father and German mothers, the two players have dual nationality and could declare for either country. However, with both players having represented nation of birth at underage levels, it was always expected they would eventually break into the senior squad.
The Boateng family grew up in the tough Berlin suburb of Wedding, the two boys, along with their other brother, George, saw football as a way to escape the rampant unemployment in the multi-cultural melting pot of an area with 26 percent of the population are without work.
Kevin-Prince Boateng: A Not So Typical German?
Kevin-Prince, the eldest, was snapped up by Hertha Berlin in 1994 when he was just seven years of age. Even then he was something of a prodigy as many scouts and already earmarked him out as a special talent.
After a good apprenticeship with the youth teams he made his debut in 2005 against Eintract Frankfurt. By this stage of his career, 18-years-old, he had already positioned himself as a player of some ability and one of German footballs next generation of exciting attack minded midfielders.
In the summer of 2005, he announced himself to the world stage by scoring a goal from the halfway line for Germany in their 3-0 win over Greece at the UEFA U-19 European Championships. Scouts from all over Europe were in attendance at the tournament in Northern Ireland and he was noted in many a little black book.
Soon after he was asked to represent an opportunistic Ghana in the 2006 World Cup Finals, but turned the offer down. By this stage of his career he had already represented Germany 41 times at various underage levels.
This declination garnered huge praise from many quarters in the German media, most notably from his ex-German international manager at Hertha Berlin, Dieter Hoeness.
However, less than one year later Kevin-Prince was to find himself ostracized from German football after Dieter Eilts deemed him to be a negative influence on his U-21 squad.
Perhaps in answer to growing criticism, "the Ghetto boy" chose to join Tottenham Hotspur later that summer for £5.5 million. The move was to prove a poor one, as under a succession of managers who did not know how to implement his skills, he kept finding himself on the periphery of the Spurs squad.
The 2010 FA Cup Final: Portsmouth vs. Chelsea and Public Enemy No.1
That ended in 2009 when he signed for financially troubled Portsmouth. During the long, hard season for the South Coast club he was easily their player of the year and after getting his career back on track he has begun to catch the eye of scouts again.
When Chelsea played Portsmouth in the FA Cup Final in May it was a real David vs. Goliath match. The Blues had just won the league while Pompey were relegated and facing financial meltdown.
The result went as expected, a 1-0 win to Chelsea, but the main talking point of the match was Kevin-Prince Boateng's over-the-top challenge on Michael Ballack. The Portsmouth midfielder had taken exception to being slapped in the face by the German some minutes earlier and decided to take retribution.
The end result was Ballack, Germany's captain, being forced to withdraw from their World Cup squad through injury. The recriminations in their homeland began to fly, such was Ballack's importance.
Kevin-Prince Boateng was vilified, news of Ballack's withdrawal was announced at 15 minute intervals on news channels, and soon after the German captain even announced that he was going to sue the Portsmouth midfielder.
Germany coach Joachim Loew said: "We were all naturally shocked this morning when we got the news." As Ballack began to become a Christ like figure, Loew even made the ensuing soap-opera worse by declaring,
"I have spoken with Jerome Boateng. I told him that we absolutely unreservedly stand by him. He is a member of the family .
"I ask everyone not to drag him into this..."
With Boateng fast becoming public enemy number one in Germany, his brother chose to cut him off completely.
Jerome Boateng: Typical German?
In contrast to the skill, power, pace, and flair employed by his brother, Jerome is a very typical German style defender. Very solid and tactically aware. He has spent his entire career in Germany, at least until next season...
Jerome Boateng signed for Manchester City in a £10 million on June 1st.
In January 2007, he made his debut for Hertha Berlin, and managed to play on the same side as his brother for six months. He became an instant first team member after making his debut such was his maturity and even earned himself a move to title chasing Hamburg after just 10 senior games.
Showing levels of solidity and professionalism beyond his tender years, Joachim Loew called him up to the full international team as Premiership managers like Arsene Wenger sent scouts to check out the latest defender from the German assembly line.
Jerome has yet to play in this World Cup, while Kevin-Prince has announced himself as irreplaceable for Ghana and should they take the pitch at the same time it would be the first time in months the siblings were actually face to face.
The two fell out when Jerome seemingly sided with the Ballack camp and criticised his brother, something that did not sit well with the Ghetto kid.
"After the things he said about my foul on Michael Ballack, we fell out," said Kevin-Prince.
"We see the event differently. I said to him that we should go our separate ways."
Jerome retorted: "I don't want any more contact with him. Kevin thought I should have defended him and criticised Ballack. Now I don't care what he does. It really doesn't interest me any more."
Declaring For Ghana...
Following such staunch criticism and two years in the German wilderness, Kevin-Prince Boateng then decided to declare for Ghana, one of their chief rivals in World Cup Group D.
The 23-year-old claimed that the German media and players were hypocrites to back Ballack without criticizing him over his blatant slap. He then moved one step further to condemn Loew about protecting Ballack after he clashed with Lukas Podolski in a training match last year.
"Can a captain slap whomever he wants? That was clearly violent conduct
"If I had done that, I would have been banned for years. That is why I left the Germany set-up to represent Ghana."
18 percent of Germans Have Dual Nationality...
Ghana is currently sitting atop Group D with four points while Germany and Serbia have three points each, leaving Australia last with one point with all the teams having played two games.
However, given the correct results on the final day, any two of the four countries can qualify for the next round.
Both Ghana and Germany have been attacking revelations and this match promises to be one of the most exciting matches in the entire competition.
Both teams have some of the most exciting midfielders the competition has to offer with Mesuit Ozil and Kevin-Prince Boateng particularly standing out as exceptional players. Boateng's performance's have been all the better because he has stepped into the void left by Michael Essien and taken on the role with aplomb. And if there is one German player who understands exactly what Kevin-Prince is going through it is Ozil.
Ozil, German born but of Turkish descent, declared for Germany amid a huge outcry in Turkey and such was the backlash against him that he even had to shutdown the comments section on his website.
It is also worth knowing that 11 of the 23 players in Joachim Loew's squad are either foreign born or have immigrant roots and as it stands now, 18 percent of all Germans have dual nationality with another country.
However, such is the animosity between Ghana and Germany that even Oliver Bierhof has had to come out and say, "We are playing Ghana, not Kevin-Prince Boateng. Feelings about one person have to be set aside..."
Watch for the fireworks...
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