Tue, Aug 15, 2006 - Page 20 News List

German president decorates World Cup soccer squad


German President Horst Koehler and Miroslav Klose pose at Berlin's Bellevue Castel yesterday with the silver laurel awarded to each member of Germany's World Cup squad.


German President Horst Koehler decorated Germany's World Cup squad with the country's highest sporting honor yesterday.

Germany finished third at the tournament, triggering a wave of national euphoria and winning praise for its attacking style.

"You developed a style on the field, and off it, which we had long missed and enthused us all," Koehler said before handing over the Silver Laurel Leaf decorations to the players at Berlin's Bellevue Palace.

Most of the 23-strong squad turned up for the ceremony. However, captain Michael Ballack, who played for Chelsea in Cardiff, Wales, on Sunday, missed the ceremony. Former coach Juergen Klinsmann, the architect of Germany's World Cup run, was also missing.

Klinsmann quit after the tournament and then announced that he would not attend the award ceremony.

He said that "others should be the focus," with Germany's first match under his successor Joachim Loew, a friendly against Sweden in Gelsenkirchen, coming up tomorrow.

"It's a shame that he is not here," Koehler said of Klinsmann. "He set in motion something truly great; he achieved in the space of two years -- against a lot of resistance, we should not forget that -- something that hardly anyone believed in before or would have thought was possible."

On Sunday, Loew said he believes the attacking momentum Germany achieved at the World Cup can carry them through to victory in Euro 2008.

"The confidence we got playing with, and even dominating, some of the best teams in the world will stay with us and we can use it to our advantage," Loew said. "The expectations are high, but I expect there will also be enough realism as well."

"Now we want to harvest at Euro 2008 what we failed to get -- that means the European title," he said at his first news conference since replacing Klinsmann.

Boldly outlining his goals before his first match in charge, Loew said he would stick to the attacking game that worked well at the World Cup where Germany finished third.

"We had a good World Cup but we didn't achieve what we set out to do," Loew said.

Italy beat Germany 2-0 after extra time in their semi-final.

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