Euro 2024: Germany’s golden oldies leading push for Euros glory

Friends off the pitch, Neuer, Mueller and Kroos are the only players in the 26-man squad to have each played over 100 games for Germany.

Published - June 18, 2024 04:02 pm IST - Herzogenaurach

Germany’s players take part in a MD-1 training session in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria,  on the eve of their UEFA Euro 2024 Group A football match against Hungary, on June 18, 2024.

Germany’s players take part in a MD-1 training session in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, on the eve of their UEFA Euro 2024 Group A football match against Hungary, on June 18, 2024. | Photo Credit: AFP

With a combined age of 106, Germany’s three remaining 2014 World Cup winners Manuel Neuer, Thomas Mueller and Toni Kroos are leading the hosts’ charge for Euro 2024 glory.

Friends off the pitch, Neuer, Mueller and Kroos are the only players in the 26-man squad to have each played over 100 games for Germany.

But not only are they the most experienced members of the squad, they can also remember a time when Germany were on top of the football world.

Since a semi-final elimination to France at Euro 2016, the Germans have struggled in major tournaments, with two World Cup group stage exits bookending a last 16 elimination by England at Euro 2020.

After a 5-1 romp against Scotland in the tournament opener, their best performance at a major tournament for almost a decade, Germany’s golden oldies will be hoping for a successful last dance on home soil.

Oldest Germany squad since 2000

While the exploits of Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz, both 21, stationed either side of the 25-year-old Kai Havertz, have dominated highlights reels, Germany have gone with an experienced squad for the Euros.

With an average age of 28.5, Germany’s squad is the oldest at the tournament, with 10 of the 26 members aged 30 or older.

Germany’s starting XI against Scotland on Friday was the oldest they have fielded at a tournament since Euro 2000, when Lothar Matthaeus led them onto the pitch against Romania.

Neuer, 38, is two years older than coach Julian Nagelsmann. Kroos and Mueller are both 34 -- a year older than captain Ilkay Gundogan.

Gundogan made his Germany debut in 2011 but missed out as Germany lifted the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 with a back injury.

Neuer’s first Germany cap was in June 2009, while Mueller and Kroos made their debuts in the same match nine months later.

Kroos, who has confirmed he will end his career at the end of the tournament, had retired from international duty in 2021 but came back with a Euro 2024 win in mind.

And Kroos has undoubtedly been the most impressive of the three, showcasing his calmness and control against Scotland.

Despite being under fire for some pre-tournament mistakes, Neuer remains a calming presence between the sticks and is still an excellent distributor of the ball.

Mueller’s playing peak may be behind him but few are better at bringing a diverse cohort together.

When announcing the Euro 2024 squad, Nagelsmann named Mueller “a connector” who “can link the rappers with the yodellers” in the squad.

The veteran forward seems to be doing his part at Germany’s camp in the Bavarian village of Herzogenaurach.

Neuer lauded the “mood and the atmosphere within the camp”, saying “there’s just a really good, colourful mix in our team”.

Neuer said he was “happy to hang out” with the younger squad members, joking that he can “hear conversations that are perhaps a little different to those with Toni Kroos or Thomas Mueller”.

‘Experienced a lot together’

Speaking on Monday, Neuer said the trio “bring a very good perspective” to the squad.

“We’ve already experienced a lot together. We’ve had times with good or bad first games and at the beginning you don’t always know where you stand.”

Neuer said they would make sure Germany “keep our feet on the ground” despite blowing Scotland off the park.

“I think the relationship between us is simply very good and has been over the years too.

“But we don’t just get on well off the pitch, we’re also fine characters on the pitch who always give everything to the team.

“Even if someone isn’t playing, like Thomas isn’t starting, but he is a player who contributes everything.

“We know about his ability and I’m glad I’ve been able to bring such great people and players into my career.”

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