Reflection: Germany’s 2009 U21 European Champions

On June 29th, 2009 Germany’s U21’s lined up to face England in Malmo, Sweden in the final of the U21 European Championships. They ended up as the winner, securing the title for the first time in Germany’s history.

This famous 2009 side has been talked about ever since. It put Germany right at the forefront of youth production, where they have since stayed despite not being able to recreate the feat. So what of the 2009 squad? Well, this was it:

Goalkeepers

Manuel Neuer
Florian Fromlowitz
Tobias Sippel

Defence

Andreas Beck
Marcel Schmelzer
Daniel Schwaab
Mats Hummels
Jerome Boateng
Sebastian Boenisch
Benedikt Höwedes

Midfield

Dennis Aogo
Patrick Ebert
Sami Khedira
Mesut Özil
Marko Marin
Fabian Johnson
Dennis Grote
Daniel Adlung
Anis Ben-Hatira
Gonzalo Castro

Forwards

Sandro Wanger
Chinedu Ede
Ashkan Dejagah

That was quite a squad wasn’t it? Reading through the list you’ll probably recognise most of the names but what of the ones that didn’t quite ‘make the grade’? Where are they now?

We’ll start from the back and work our way forward. Florian Fromlowitz, 29, made 12 appearances for the German U21 side, with 2009 being his final year in the squad. The former Kaiserslauten shot stopper was a first team regular for Hannover 96 while turning out for the German U21’s. Initially signed as second choice, Fromlowitz was thrust into the first team picture after the shocking death of Robert Enke. Unfortunately for Florian, he was replaced by Hannover’s current no.1 Ron-Robert Zieler in 2011. Since then, Fromlowitz has been in decline and after spells with MSV Duisburg, Dynamo Dresden and SV Wehen Wiesbaden he now plys his trade for FC 08 Homburg in the Regionalliga Sudwest.

A former teammate of Fromlowitz, Tobias Sippel, was also part of the famous 2009 U21 winning squad. Until the start of this season Sippel had been loyal to Kaiserslauten before signing for Gladbach. Sippel would hardly be considered a flop. He’s made close to 200 Bundesliga appearances but has never been able to make the cut into the German national side. However, when you have Manuel Neuer as competition then it’s bound to be tough. He signed a three-year deal with Borussia Mönchengladbach back in July and serves as Yann Sommer’s backup.

Moving into the defence and all the names on the list will be familiar to fans of German football. All bar Daniel Schwaab and Sebastian Boenisch have made international appearances for Germany. However, Boenisch has gone on to make 14 appearances for Poland. You could also argue that Andreas Beck hasn’t reached his full potential but I will argue that close to 250 Bundesliga appearances, mostly with Hoffenheim, and 9 German caps is still pretty good going, and he’s a regular starter now his first season at Beşiktaş.

The midfield is where we’ll find our biggest pick of players that seem to have disappeared from the public eye. Lets start with Dennis Grote. Grote made 14 appearances for the German U21 side and spent a 7 years at VfL Bochum but only made 85 appearances over the course of those 7 years. After leaving Bochum, Grote had a chance to impress at Leeds United. He didn’t sign permanently, only on trial, but made a solitary appearance before leaving. He has since found himself a new home at 2. Bundesliga side MSV Duisburg, winning promotion last season.

Another addition to our list is once exciting Greuther Fürth youngster Daniel Adlung. In 2008, Adlung was signed by the side who would eventually go on to become champions, Wolfburg. Adlung never featured in the Wolfsburg first team and made 20 appearances for their second team over the course of his two-year stint. Since 2013, Adlung has been signed to Bavarian side 1860 Munich.

Midfielder Patrick Ebert is another member who failed to break through into the German national side despite his 13 youth caps. Spending the majority of his career playing in Germany with Hertha Berlin, Ebert now plays his football in Spain. At the start of this season Patrick signed on with La Liga side Rayo Vallecano. This wasn’t his first venture into Spanish football. He spent two years at Valladolid but left after facing disciplinary action following his refusal to play against Villarreal.

I’ll round off the midfield with one final name, Anis Ben-Hatira. A common name for Bundesliga fans, Ben-Hatira has spent his entire professional career playing in Germany. He’s also a full national, having obtained 4 caps for the Tunisian national side. In 2010, while signed with Hamburg, Ben-Hatira was offered a trial at Barclays Premier League side West Ham United however he failed to impress and continued at Hamburg. Now with Eintracht Frankfurt, Ben-Hatira got his first match time in a solid year, starting for Frankfurt on MatchDay 27 and scoring the only goal in Die Adler’s much-needed 1-0 win over Hannover.

A special mention to Marko Marin; he was once dubbed one of the brightest prospects in Germany but his career has slowly fizzled out after countless injuries and an ill-advised move to global superclub Chelsea.  After loan time from Chelsea at Sevilla, Fiorentina and Anderlecht, Marin’s career is getting a bit back in order in Turkey on loan to Trabzonspor this season.

Moving onto the forwards and all three selected have been a disappointment. Ashkan Dejagah is a full international for Iran and also has a Bundesliga title medal that he won with Wolfsburg in 2009. He now finds himself in Qatar with Al-Arabi (currently managed by Gianfranco Zola). He spent a couple of seasons in England with Fulham but left after they were relegated from the Barclays Premier League.

The two remaining forwards are cult hero Sandro Wagner and Chinedu Ede. At the time of the 2009 European Championships both Wagner and Ede played for MSV Duisburg, along with Ben-Hatira. Neither Wagner nor Ede ever made the step up to make their senior debuts for Germany. Ede however, does have the possibility of playing for Nigeria but has yet to be called-up. Having previously spent 3 seasons at Hertha Berlin, Sandro was snapped up by SV Darmstadt at the start of this season and has already gone on to score more league goals this season then he did in his entire Hertha career, leading the line for a Lillies’ side that looks like it may survive its first Bundesliga season in three decades.

Ede has been well-travelled, also playing for Hertha and Duisburg, as well as Union Berlin, Kaiserslautern and Mainz, and now plays in Holland for Eredivisie side Twente. He’s started 20 matches this season for the Dutch side, with four goals and four assists, as the club sits 11th in the Eredivisie table.

A final little side note to end on, coach Horst Hrubesch is still involved in the German setup and has been since 2000. After winning the European Championships in 2008 with the U19 side, Hrubesch stepped into the U21 team and interim manager. The German U21 side was due to be coached by then Stuttgart II manager Rainer Adrion but he was unavailable until the summer. After relinquishing charge to Adrion, Hrubesch continued to work with the U19 until June 2013 when he was made permanent manager of the U21 side after Adrion was sacked.

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Ollie is currently a university student studying Journalism and Public Relations in Bristol, England. I have been a Chelsea fan my whole life and being half Polish I’ve got a soft spot for Robert Lewandowski and Bayern Munich. Follow him at @olliejoemills