A consistent producer of some of the world’s best footballing talent, Germany has won a stunning 4 World Cups, 3 European Championships, and a Confederations Cup. From technicians to playmakers, let’s take a look at the best mix of German players of all time.
A versatile fullback praised for his speed and pinpointed tackling, Philipp Lahm played over 100 appearances for the German national team, where the defenseman captained the side in the 2010 World Cup before winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He retired from international outings after the Cup but went on to finish his 17-year career at Bayern Munich.
Franz Beckenbauer ushered in the sweeper role for his dual dominance at both ends of the field, earning 103 caps for West Germany over twelve years. He played in 3 World Cups, leading the team to its 1974 victory and winning the 1972 European Championship. He also coached the German side to a World Cup in 1990.
Regarded as one of the best goalkeepers ever, the physical and commanding Manuel Neuer rules the posts with imperious superiority. He helped lead the side that won Germany’s fifth title in 2014, nearly winning the Ballon d’Or in 2014 only to finish third behind Messi and Ronaldo. Neuer also captained the side that fell short in the 2018 World Cup. A so-called ‘Sweeper-Keeper’ for his passing ability outside the box, Manuel Never modernized the goalkeeper position for which he still has many years to come.
A prolific goalscorer known for his bursts of speed, Gerd Müller averaged more than a goal a game with West Germany, powering the side to 68 strikes on 62 appearances. He notched the winning goal that won the World Cup in 1974 and was once the tournament’s all-time leading scorer with 14 goals. At 365 goals with club side Bayern Munich, he still owns the Bundesliga for most finishes of all -time.
The potent striker Miroslav Klose played an impressive 137 international games with the German side, scoring 71 goals. Klose remains the all-time top scorer in World Cup history with 15 goals and played an important role in the team’s World Cup victory in 2014. He’s also a 2-time German League Champion, German Cup Winner, and one-time Italian cup winner with Lazio.
Lothar Matthäus spent two decades playing with the West German side, captaining the team that won the World Cup trophy in 1990. He won the Ballon D’Or that same year. The box-to-box midfielder played in five World Cups, only the second player to do so. He eventually broke the record for most World Cup matches played with 25 matches.
While Matthaus filled his trophy case with virtually every club trophy at stints across Inter Milan and Bayern Munich, the UEFA Champions League was the only trophy to elude him.
Bastian Schweinsteiger starred on the side that won the 2014 World Cup, during which he made his 100th team appearance. Known as the creative catalyst for the DFB, the energetic midfielder was also a Bayern Munich staple for 13 years before transferring to Manchester United.
The first player to score in three consecutive World Cups, Jürgen Klinsmann also won his first World Cup in 1990 with the DFB, including a European Championship in 1996. With 82 caps and 40 goals, the combative striker went on to coach the national side in 2006 that finished third.
The versatile forward Thomas Müller is widely known for his diligence and creative passing and finishing skills. Despite coming up short in his side’s third-place World Cup finish in 2010, Müller himself won the Golden Boot for five goals and three assists. He’d win the Silver Boot in German’s 2014 World Cup victory. With 96 club appearances and 38 goals, the Bayern Munich stud sets the bar high on his future role with the national side.
With 130 caps and 49 international goals, Lukas Podolski is one of the most celebrated German players to date. A deadly finisher with a powerful left foot, the striker played in three World Cups, winning the one in 2014.
Oliver Kahn is still the only goalkeeper to keep five clean sheets in a World Cup. He’s also the only goalkeeper to win the Golden Ball at the tournament. The 6’2 goalkeeper aptly nicknamed the Titan or Der Titan, never won a World Cup but finished 2nd in 2002 and 3rd in 2006.