Germany Olympic football team
|Shirt badge/Association crest|
Nationalelf (national eleven)|
DFB-Elf (DFB Eleven)
(Die) Mannschaft (The Team)
German Football Association|
(Deutscher Fußball-Bund – DFB)
|Head coach||Rainer Adrion (Under-21 coach)|
|Most caps||Christian Schreier (22)|
|Top scorer||Gottfried Fuchs / Frank Mill (10)|
The Germany national football team has been active since 1908, and first competed in the Olympic Games in 1912. Olympic football was originally an amateur sport, and as the pre-World War II German national team was also amateur, it was able to send a full national team to the games. After the war, Germany was divided, but until 1964 East and West competed together as the United Team of Germany. From 1968 West Germany began to compete on its own, but were still forced to send an amateur team, who were not able to match the success of their professional counterparts in the World Cup and European Championship. The rules on amateurism were relaxed in the 1980s, which allowed West Germany some success, notably a bronze medal finish in 1988, but this was their last appearance in the Olympic finals. Since 1992 the tournament has been competed by under-23 teams, and the last time Germany selected a specific Olympic team was 1998: Olympic qualification is now dependent on the results of the under-21 team.
Pre-World War II (1912–1938)
Germany first sent a football team to the Olympics in 1912, where they were defeated in the first round, losing 5–1 against neighbours Austria. They entered a consolation tournament, however, where they recorded a 16–0 win over Russia, with 10 goals from forward Gottfried Fuchs - this is still the national team's highest margin of victory. They were eliminated in the next round, though, with a 3–1 defeat against Hungary. After World War I, Germany was banned from the 1920 Olympics, and didn't compete in 1924, returning to action in 1928, when they were eliminated in the quarter finals by eventual winners Uruguay. Uruguay would go on to win the inaugural World Cup two years later.
Football wasn't included in the 1932 Olympics, but returned for the 1936 games, in Berlin. As hosts, and having finished third at the previous World Cup, hopes of a German success were high. It wasn't to be, though: after a 9–0 win against Luxembourg, Germany were eliminated in the quarter finals, losing 2–0 to Norway. The result cost coach Otto Nerz his job, being replaced by his assistant Sepp Herberger.
Division and Unity (1948–1980)
Following World War II, Germany were banned from the 1948 Olympics, but were back in 1952. By this point Germany was divided into three states - East Germany and the Saar protectorate having broken away, with what was left of the country commonly referred to as West Germany. Saar competed independently in 1952, but East Germany were unable to, and refused to represent a united German team. Consequently the German Olympic team in 1952 was made up entirely of athletes from the west. The growth of professionalism in German football meant that the team they sent was no longer a senior national team squad, instead an amateur team. Despite this, Germany achieved their best result so far, reaching the semi-finals, where they were beaten by Yugoslavia. They lost 2–0 against Sweden in the bronze medal match.
In 1956 the different parts of Germany competed together as the United Team of Germany, including athletes from East, West and Saar (which was due to accede in 1956 anyway). The West German amateur team played-off with the East German national team for the right to represent Germany in the Olympics. The West won, and reached the quarter-finals, losing against the USSR. The process repeated itself in 1960 and 1964, but on both occasions East Germany won the right to compete in the tournament. As the East German league was amateur, it was able to send a senior national team, and despite failing to qualify in 1960, they finished third in 1964, Germany's best result so far.
From 1968, East and West Germany competed separately, but West Germany failed to qualify for the 1968 games, losing against the United Arab Emirates in qualification. The 1972 Olympics were held in Munich, and West Germany qualified automatically as hosts - the amateur team, which contained future World Cup winner Uli Hoeneß and Champions League-winning coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, reached the second round, where they were eliminated in a group containing East Germany, who went on to win the bronze medals. West Germany did not qualify for either the 1976 or 1980 Olympics, losing against Spain and Norway respectively.
The strict rules on amateurism had favoured Communist countries, who were able to send their senior national teams to the Olympics, as their leagues officially had amateur status. These rules were relaxed for the 1984 games: countries could select professional players, but only those who hadn't played in the finals of the World Cup. As such, West Germany selected a team known locally as the Olympiaauswahl (Olympic selection), similar in make-up to the B international team. Initially West Germany failed to qualify for the 1984 games, but were granted a reprieve following the boycott by Eastern Bloc countries. A team including future World Cup winners Andreas Brehme and Guido Buchwald reached the quarter-finals, losing 5–2 against Yugoslavia.
West Germany qualified for the 1988 Olympics, where they achieved their best ever result: third place. Having emerged from a group including China, Sweden and Tunisia, they beat Zambia 4–0 in the quarter finals. After losing on penalties to Brazil in the semi-finals, they beat Italy 3–0 to take the bronze medals: to date, this is the team's only tournament victory against Italy. Three strikers from the Olympic squad - Jürgen Klinsmann, Frank Mill and Karlheinz Riedle - would go on to win the World Cup two years later, along with midfielder Thomas Häßler.
Germany was reunified in 1990, and the 1992 Olympics saw another rule change: football squads would be made up of players under the age of 23, with three overage players allowed. Since this change, Germany have not qualified for the finals of the Olympic games, and the last time an Olympic team was selected was in 1998 (a 1–0 defeat against Portugal). Olympic qualification is now decided by the under-21 team in the UEFA Under-21 Championship.
- Germany national football team
- Germany national football B team
- Germany national under-21 football team
- In Germany, the team is typically referred to as Die Nationalmannschaft (the national team), DFB-Elf (DFB eleven), DFB-Auswahl (DFB selection) or Nationalelf (national eleven). Whereas in foreign media, they are regularly described as (Die) Mannschaft (literally meaning the team).