who are you people and what have you done with the germans?
Well, the World Cup is over. Spit, sweat and tears all around. Germany did a fabulous job and managed to snag third place. Sebastian "Schweini" Schweinsteiger was the start of the evening, scoring all three German goals in the game against Portugal. The German team got a rousing reception at noon yesterday in Berlin and said they couldn't have done it without their fans.
And France vs. Italy on Sunday? Sacré bleu! What a game that was! Smelling salts for Thierry Henry during the first half followed in the second half by a brutal head-butt to the chest for Italian Materazzi by Zinedine "Zizou" Zidane after Materazzi supposedly made some extremely disparaging remarks about Zidane and his family. Only time will tell what really went on there. Zizou was sent off with a red card, ending his remarkable football career on a bitter note, but was still named best World Cup player. Italy went on to win the championship in the penalty shoot-out. Viva Italia, I guess.
Now that things have calmed down a bit, the analysis begins. All day today most TV stations were showing retrospective pictures of smiling, happy fans. Smiling, happy, German fans, even. Germans who waved their country's flag with pride, no longer needing to wonder if it was all right to do so. Germans who displayed amazing hospitality and friendliness to so many foreign guests. Many are now asking if this is going to last, if the World Cup somehow caused Germany's apparent attitude adjustment. Some say it will be business as usual in no time, but others maintain that this is the start of something big that has been building up for the past 60 years and that the games have just been a catalyst.
The World Cup is the best thing to happen to Germany in a long, long time and national pride is definitely not out of place here. In this morning's paper there was a quote by Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany's Federal Minister for the Interior, that sums it up nicely:
"Wir fangen fast schon an, uns selber zu mögen."
Translation: "We're almost starting to like ourselves."
We like you too, Germany. Congratulations on a job well done.