National team: Rummenigge: "We have to put our heart and soul back into it"

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge spends the World Cup final week in Qatar.

National team: Rummenigge: "We have to put our heart and soul back into it"

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge spends the World Cup final week in Qatar. There, the former CEO of FC Bayern Munich can follow live in the stadium what the Argentinians, French or Moroccans have over the German national team.

The 67-year-old is expected to bring his knowledge and extensive experience to the "advisory group" set up by DFB President Bernd Neuendorf, which aims to get the DFB selection back on the road to success. In an interview with the German Press Agency, Rummenigge advocates joining forces.

Question: A year and a half ago you retired as boss at Bayern Munich. What is your motivation for working in the DFB's expert group now that Germany failed to win the World Cup?

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge: Basically, those were the talks with Aki Watzke and Mr. Neuendorf, who asked me to be there after the internal Executive Committee decision to revive the task force after the disappointing tournament in Qatar. We want to make a contribution so that we have a powerful team again at the European Championships in a year and a half that can also inspire people.

When will the expert group start its work? And which tasks and objectives are of central importance to you?

Rummenigge: The first meeting will be on Thursday. Anyone who cannot be there will be added. We want to exchange ideas, set an agenda and then work through the things that are expected of the task force. This is primarily a contribution that we turn the screws so that we are successful again. It is important that the Bundesliga and the national team close ranks - and the DFB. We have to stand together loyally for the good of German football. It is no longer the time for selfishness.

An important point should be the youth work, right?

Rummenigge: There was a lot of discussion after the World Cup. After the preliminary round at the 2000 European Championships, when I was also appointed to the first task force, we were in a bigger crisis than we are now. But with good quality and loyal cooperation, we quickly managed to turn the corner. The league and the DFB have shown consideration for each other again. The tournaments that followed were all successful - with the exception of the EM 2004. In 2002 the team, coached by Rudi Völler, reached the World Cup final. Everything has to do with quality on the pitch. And we have to step up, especially when it comes to youth work.

You're in Qatar right now, watching the semi-finals and the final, meeting a lot of influential people in football: What do the teams that are still in the tournament have over the German team?

Rummenigge: We have seen good role models here. Sure, the Croatians have now clearly lost against Argentina. But this is a small country of 3.9 million people that was in the semi-finals here and in the 2018 World Cup final. We have to look beyond the borders. It is noticeable that in Europe, countries like Croatia or Portugal, not large or rich countries, produce large quantities of quality in the youth field.

DFB President Bernd Neuendorf and DFL Supervisory Board Chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke decided before the Expert Council was founded that they would entrust Hansi Flick with the home EM 2024. You know Flick well and had a great time with him at Bayern Munich. Did he deserve this second chance as national coach?

Rummenigge: Yes, definitely! I still consider Hansi to be a highly qualified coach who is also the right person to manage this new beginning and lead it to success. And I see that as part of my job: I have a friendly, open and very honest relationship with Hansi. We worked very well and trustingly together at Bayern Munich. And that's what I want to do here in our circle. Because the coach is a very important part of success. With Hansi and another sporting part to be found at his side, you can find your way back on the road to success. Besides, I don't think our team is as bad as the results of the last tournaments were.

You spoke to Mister X. A successor must be found for Oliver Bierhoff, who took personal action after the World Cup. Was the separation after 18 years Bierhoff at the DFB necessary?

Rummenigge: He made this decision for himself. He also had a conversation with me after the World Cup. And I think he made the right decision for him. 18 years in a job is extremely long in football. And he has also experienced glorious times. I am convinced that he will or can reappear in professional football if he wants to. The 18 years may not have ended so well, but it also distinguishes him that he has consistently drawn a line for himself.

What should the profile of the successor(s) look like? Do you have a possible candidate in mind?

Rummenigge: First we have to work out a job profile. What does that person have to be able to do? This is also done in the other DFB working group, where Oliver Bierhoff's major tasks - qualitatively and quantitatively - are discussed and then probably shared over several shoulders. Based on the job profile, we then have to look at candidates. I don't want to bring names into play now. Don't do that before our meetings. We must proceed with discretion and not let ourselves be carried away by the media. President Bernd Neuendorf has said that one must now act without hectic and with prudence.

"Back to the top of the world" was the slogan after the end of the Joachim Löw era after the EM-Aus 2021. Now Germany is in three botched tournaments in a row. How far away from the top of the world is German football?

Rummenigge: Here in Doha I met many well-known players from the past, many association presidents. The respect for German football is still there, even if we didn't cut a good figure in Qatar. If you work smart, well and with concentration now, better times will come again.

What goal can you proclaim for the EM 2024?

Rummenigge: We have to get away from the fact that before every tournament there was the statement: We're going to play for the title! If you then drive home three times early, the Schadenfreude is great. We must play football with humility. And we have to put heart and soul back into it. Look at the Moroccans. It will be important that the players and the coaching staff work together in this direction. Here, thousands of Argentinians walk through Doha with the Messi jersey. We have to find our way back to unity in Germany. Like at the 2006 World Cup, we have to get back to a situation in which people in our country are happy with the national team, identify with them and enjoy wearing the jersey again. It's not about marketing, it's not about merchandising. It's about togetherness.