BERLIN - As the man who's running the World Cup, Franz Beckenbauer was always guaranteed a high profile here - and a seat next to the future king of England - but what ever he earned for leading Germany to The Big One as both coach and manager must be dwarfed by his commerical income this year.
Der Kaiser is everywhere. On every billboard, every newspaper and every advert break he's there, immaculate as ever.
My favourite is one is for a mobile phone where he, Lothar Matteus, Berti Vogts and Sepp Maier have all gone sweatered and sports-casual in a sort of Man Behaving Badly sketch.
Inevitably when the former coaches of Hungary and Scotland get a bit lairy, it's Franz who shakes his head in resignation and introduces some decorum. I dread to think how much their middle-aged high-jinks have cost.
Continue reading "Kaiser coins it......"
DORTMUND - While Fletch is a member of the accredited media out here in Germany, I'm having to watch the games in whichever way I can.
So the e-mail I received on Thursday informing me my ticket application for the Sweden v Trinidad game had been successful was a real bonus.
Despite some problems trying to print out the confirmation, I joined a relatively short queue at the ticket centre here in Dortmund and there I was in the Westfalenstadion today - although I was offered 2000 euros for it last night, 20 times the face value.
Forget the red carpet that runs from the city centre to the stadium, the paths around the stadium became a yellow river of confused supporters trying to make their way to a very poorly sign-posted entrance - it seemed for a while that the famous German efficiency was in danger of coming off the rails.
Continue reading "T&T ticket triumph!"
DORTMUND - Sweden's game with Trinidad & Tobago is a matter of hours away and I've heard a rumour that all is not well with the men from northern Europe.
I was talking to a journalist from Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet and he was of the opinion that the players are very, very nervous.....
Their recent form has been poor and a sense of anxiety has run through the camp. Rather than focusing on how many they will score against T&T they are more concerned with avoiding a slip-up.
Furthermore, the relationship between the Swedish players and media is very fractious.
Continue reading "Very nervous Swedes"
I was lucky enough to be at the Germany v Costa Rica match yesterday. What an experience! My first ever World Cup game and the highest-scoring opening match in World Cup history – not a bad one to be at, eh?
I was sat just to the left of the half-way line, towards the back of the bottom tier. It was a perfect spot for Philip Lahm’s opening goal – I was on the side of the pitch that he cut inside from, so I had a great view of the arc of the ball as he curled it into the far corner. I won’t go into too much detail about the opening ceremony or game, as you can already find that elsewhere on the website. But, for what it’s worth, although Germany scored four goals, I thought they looked quite sluggish, and their defence looked vulnerable to say the least. Costa Rica only had two shots and scored both.
Continue reading "Steh auf wenn du Deutscher bist!"
FRANKFURT - What is the first sight you like to gaze upon when you pull back the curtains in the morning?
Well maybe we won't actually pursue that one too far, but for me at my hotel in Frankfurt I was greeted by the faces of Michael Ballack, Kaka and Lionel Messi.
Not a nightmare about the biggest threats to England's footballing ambitions, but a giant signal that World Cup fever has now officially taken hold and the big day has finally arrived for Sven-Goran Eriksson's side.
Those three stars adorn a giant high-rise office building just yards from my bedroom window. A swift reminder that at last we have some football to be played.
Continue reading "Rude awakening on big day"
LONDON - Good news for BBC South East's Rob Smith, who is finally on his way to Germany (and should have arrived by now).
Smith, familiar to those in Kent, Surrey & Sussex as a presenter on TV show South East Today, is travelling in a genuine VW camper (unlike Fletch and Ricco who have a big ugly white box thing) - though it appears to have let him down.
Continue reading "Saturday snippets"
DORTMUND - After our technological problems with BBC World this morning, we rightly began to focus on the football.
Check out the video
We settled on the main square in Dortmund to watch the opening game but after two hours baking under the harsh evening Nordrhein-Westfallen sun with only half a view of the big screen - both Costa Rica goals were offside, by the way, according to a better-placed German informant - we decided to move on.
The stadium in Dortmund is twinned with an exhibition cente, the Westfallenhalle, and tonight they were hosting a tribute to their visitors from Trinidad & Tobago.
Although mainly lost on us, acts like Shurwayne Winchester are the business in the Caribbean and we were treated to a feast of music and dance - the Soca that Trinidad's Soca Warriors are indebted to.
Continue reading "Trini-party shenanigans"
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