World Cup 2006

Memories of my first World Cup 

It was June 2006. I had just turned 9 when a tournament began: The football World Cup. It would be the first time I'd follow a tournament of that kind. Before that, we didn't really care about football. This year, however, was a different case: The World Cup was held in the own country and the feeling was very special. The whole country was enthusiastic. You just had to watch it. There were next to no people that didn't talk about it. Even though it was my first tournament, I knew a few names: Podolski, Schweinsteiger, Klose, Ballack, who was the captain, Kahn, Lehmann. Some of the most known names of our squad. Others like Friedrich appeared in tv advertisements. But they weren't the only ones: David Beckham was famous around the world, and names like Cristiano Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane or Luca Toni also rang a bell. I don't have a lot of memories of my first World Cup, but I know the important: Italy became the champion, and ended Germany's dream in the semi final. But let's start from the beginning.

I haven't seen much of the World Cup. At least that's what my memory tells me. We mainly cared about the matches that included Germany. I can't remember if we watched matches of other countries, with one exception. I know that we watched one of Ukraine's matches because I have a special memory of it thanks to my sister, and I heard of Shevchenko prior to the tournament. Except of this, the final and Germany's matches, I don't have any memories about the World Cup.

Lahm was one of those players I didn't know yet. He then made a name of himself by scoring a goal. But I noticed him because of the funny meaning of his name. For your information, lahm translates to slow in English. Not a good name for a football player. Remarkable was also Schweinsteiger's weird hair color which we called garlic. How young they all were back then...  After Germany played against Ecuador I wondered what that was as it was the first time I heard of this country. Years later I'd still associate it with this match. Also memorable were the celebrations of our then-coach Klinsmann whenever a goal was scored. It started to get exciting in the quarter finals when the match had to be decided by penalties. That win put us through to the semi finals... where we had to bury our dreams of winning. The defeat to Italy came out of nowhere, because it almost went to penalties until they managed to score goals in the very last minute. The dream, the summer fairytale (Sommer-Märchen as we called it here) was over. But we still had hope. There was the third-place play-off, and we hoped to win it for a somewhat nice ending. And we did. I still remember the feeling after the match. The third place felt like a small victory even though it was so close. Not winning it in the own country left a bittersweet taste. It was actually the only time I fully supported my country.

The final day arrived and it was a final to remember. People would still talk about it years later. I don't remember if I watched it. Zidane's headbutt was an unforgettable moment that cut his last game short. Not a good way to say goodbye. I thought it was funny and didn't really understand that it was a serious thing. It's the only scene of the final I can remember and makes me doubt if I really watched a bit of the final or just saw a recap. I can't recall anything about the penalty shootout or the winning ceremony but it was like I was witnessing Italy's victory. Or my memory fools me and I found out about it later. Maybe I just didn't care enough to remember. But it will always be special as it was my first World Cup.