German football was in the doldrums after a disappointing Euro 2000 in which they failed to get out of their group, a major shock for such a successful footballing nation.
But that tournament proved to be a catalyst for a complete restructuring of the development of players in Germany and within just a few years the results were starting to show. Now, they can boast a whole host of talented youngsters playing for the national team and at some of the best clubs around the world and Alex has nothing but admiration for the way they have turned things around.
“They changed their whole philosophy in terms of developing players, rewrote the book and they did it very well,” said Alex. “Matthias Sammer was largely responsible in putting together a blueprint for development and they’ve followed that.
“It was based around positive football and it’s given them enough scope to be creative. They pushed players forward from their Under-21s very early on and those players have really developed.
“Germany has always been a strong footballing nation with top sides such as Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund continually producing quality players. The likes of Ozil, Khedira and Muller are fine examples and you can see a conveyor belt of talent coming through. They are going to be a force for years to come at national and club level.
“That’s why our game against Wolfsburg is one to look forward to,” he continued. “They have some very good young players and it will be a test for us. This competition is the equivalent of the Champions League for youth sides and you’re not going to get any easy matches.
“We’re in a strong group with Wolfsburg, Barcelona and Anderlecht but we’re enjoying the tournament so far.”
To date our record is won one, lost one, having beaten the Germans on their own patch in our first game before losing 2-0 to Barcelona at White Hart Lane in the following fixture.
After the excitement of playing at the Lane in front of a big crowd, the lads take on Wolfsburg at our new Training Centre but Alex doesn’t expect them to be any less motivated.
“I don’t think there’s any question about the players’ enthusiasm for the game,” Alex added. “If anything, the Lane might have made them get up for the game a little too much. They will be more familiar with the surroundings here at this fantastic training centre and might be more relaxed. I know they’ll want to win and do well."