The German national football team has had some great players and success stories during its complicated 107-year existence.
Since the nation’s first official international against the Swiss in a 5-3 defeat in Basel, the team has gone onto win the World Cup on four occasions and the European Cup on three.
The German’s record is tremendous considering the playing restrictions placed upon the team after the World Wars, the split into East and West Germany and the reunification of the two countries in 1990.
In fact, their international record could be much more impressive had certain decisions and results gone their way – think England in 1966. The team has finished as the World Cup runners-up on no less than four occasions and the European Cup on three – the exact same record as their wins.
During those 107 years, some wonderful players have pulled on the white Die Mannschaft shirt including the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Lothar Matthäus, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Gerd Muller, Sepp Maier and Philipp Lahm to name just a few.
Most of the players who have gone on to represent the full national team are ethnic Germans however we have compiled a list of those players who could have played for other countries instead of the four-time World Cup winners.
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15 Sami Khedira (Tunisia)
Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira has represented Germany a total of 56 times but he could have played for North African country Tunisia due to his father hailing from the country.
The injury-troubled player was born in Stuttgart in 1987 and started his career with his hometown club, making over 130 appearances before heading to the Spanish capital with Real Madrid.
Khedira established himself as a key player for Los Blancos for his first three seasons. However injuries meant that he made only 37 appearances in his last two years before joining current club Juventus in a free transfer in 2015.
Although injuries have taken their toll over the last few years, the 28-year-old’s trophy cabinet is full having won the World Cup, Champions League, La Liga, Copa del Rey, Bundesliga and the World Club Cup to date.
14 Gerald Asamoah (Ghana)
Ghanaian striker Gerald Asamoah represented Germany at international level from 2001-2006 after his family immigrated to the country in the 1990s. He was known as a powerful striker and played the majority of his career with Schalke in the Bundesliga.
Although Asamoah expressed his desire to play for the Black Stars at an international level, he became the first African-born black player to play for the senior German team when he was given his first cap by Rudi Völler in 2001.
He scored on his debut against Slovakia, and went on to play in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. In total, Asamoah played for Germany 43 times scoring 6 goals.
13 Shkodran Mustafi (Albania/Macedonia)
Although a relative newcomer to the international scene, Valencia centre-back Shkodran Mustafi could have chosen from Albania, Macedonia and Germany before committing his international future to the latter.
Mustafi was born in Germany to an Albanian family that were originally from Macedonia in 1992. The youngster played his youth football in Germany before signing a professional contract with Everton in the Premier League.
After just one senior appearance in three years for the Toffees, Mustafi was signed by Sampdoria who were playing in Serie B at the time. After two-and-a-half seasons in Italy, he was signed by current club Valencia in Spain.
Although the defender expressed his desire to play for Albania, he made his senior German debut in May 2014 and was a part of the squad that won the World Cup in Brazil.
12 Oliver Neuville (Switzerland/Italy/Belgium)
Oliver Neuville was born and raised in Switzerland to a German father and Italian mother and starting his professional career in the country with Servette FC in 1992. The striker wouldn’t play in Germany until 1997 when he joined Hansa Rostock, yet chose to represent the country of his father at international level.
In fact, due to having a Belgian grandfather, he was also eligible for Belgium and it is said that the adopted German needed an interpreter during his early days with the national team after being awarded his first cap against Malta in 1998.
Neuville went on to pick up 69 caps for Germany scoring 10 goals including one at the Japan and South Korea World Cup in 2002 and another at the 2006 World Cup in his adopted nation.
After arriving in Germany in 1997, the striker ended his career in the country 13 years later with Arminia Bielefeld at the age of 37.
11 Paulo Rink (Brazil)
Paulo Rink was a Brazilian-born striker who played in the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen and FC Nürnberg during his 17-year career.
Although the striker started his career in his native Brazil with Atlético Paranaense, Rink played in Germany for six years after heading to Europe in 1997 for a $6m fee.
Rink’s great-grandfather had emigrated from Heidelberg to Brazil in 1904, so couldn’t qualify for Germany until he naturalized as a German citizen. Berti Vogts called up the player in September 1998 and handed him his debut versus Romania. The player went on to make a total of 13 appearances for Germany without ever registering a goal in the famous white shirt.
10 Mehmet Scholl (Turkey)
Mehmet Scholl is one of the most decorated German players of all-time after collecting 17 major honours that includes the 1996 European Cup with Germany during his playing career.
Scholl was born in Karlsruhe to a German mother and Turkish father, but after his parents separated in 1975, he took the family name of his mother’s new husband when they married.
The midfielder started his professional career with his home-town club before moving to Bavaria where he joined Bayern Munich in what was to become a hugely successful period.
In total, Scholl made 464 appearances for the Bavarian giants and a further 36 appearances for Germany scoring eight goals during his time with the national team.
9 Kevin Kurányi (Brazil/Panama)
Kevin Kurányi had the opportunity to play for three nations through birth and parentage but chose to represent his father’s country of Germany, scoring 19 goals in 52 games for the national team.
Kurányi was born in Rio de Janeiro to a German father and Panamanian mother in 1982. His childhood was spent between Brazil and Panama before moving to Germany where he began his professional career with Stuttgart.
The striker has been fairly prolific at each of his clubs, scoring 161 league goals during his professional career with Stuttgart, Schalke and Dynamo Moscow.
The now 33 year-old has returned to Germany with Hoffenheim after almost five years in Russia but has yet to feature for his new club.
8 Maurizio Gaudino (Italy)
Maurizio Gaudino played almost 300 Bundesliga games in a career that saw the son of Italian immigrants play in Germany, England, Mexico, Switzerland and Turkey before retiring in 2003.
The attacking midfielder played five times for Germany in the early 1990s and went to the 1994 World Cup that was held in the USA.
The player picked up a Bundesliga winners medal in the 1991-92 season while playing for Stuttgart but was on the losing side against Maradona’s Napoli in the 1988-89 UEFA Cup.
Although the midfielder scored in the first-leg, the 2-1 defeat meant that Stuttgart had to win the return-leg two weeks later. Unfortunately for the Germans, a 3-3 draw meant Napoli captain Maradona lifted the trophy 5-4 on aggregate.
7 İlkay Gündoğan (Turkey)
Born to Turkish parents in the West German city of Gelsenkirchen, İlkay Gündoğan has represented Germany at every level since making his debut for the Under-17s in 2008.
The 24-year-old box-to-box midfielder has picked up 15 caps for the full national team since making his debut in a 3-1 win against Belgium in a UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying match in 2011.
Since signing for Borussia Dortmund from FC Nürnberg in 2011, the highly-rated youngster has won both the Bundesliga and German Cup and finished as a Champions League runner-up after succumbing to rivals Bayern Munich in the final.
Although Gündoğan scored a penalty to tie the game at 1-1, Arjen Robben scored in the 89th minute to take the cup back to Bavaria.
6 Piotr Trochowski (Poland)
Although being born and raised in Poland until the age of five, Trochowski earned his first full German cap under Joachim Low in 2006 when he started a friendly against Georgia.
The attacking midfielder started his career in the second string of the Bayern Munich team before going on to make just 13 appearances for the first team.
In January 2005, he was sold to the northern club Hamburg where he stayed for six-and-a-half seasons as a regular first team player. The club won the Intertoto Cup on two occasions during his stay before he left for Sevilla in 2011.
Trochowski stayed with the Andalucian club for three seasons before having his contract terminated in September 2014 – a move which prompted a lawsuit from the player with the outcome still pending.
5 Mario Gómez (Spain)
Although Mario Gómez has both Spanish (through his father) and German citizenship, the Beşiktaş striker chose to represent the latter after playing for the national teams since the age of 14.
The 30 year-old has scored 25 goals in 60 appearances for Die Mannschaft with his first coming against Switzerland on his debut in 2007. Gómez has played for the team at the South Africa World Cup in 2010 and Euro 2008 and 2012.
At club level, Gómez is known for his finishing skills and has been prolific in front of goal wherever he has been. To date, Gómez has scored 241 goals in 427 club games at a rate of a goal every 1.77 games – a very healthy ratio.
4 Jérôme Boateng (Ghana)
Not yet 30 years-old, Bayern Munich central-defender Jérôme Boateng has already won 56 caps for the German national team, but could have chosen to represent Ghana like his half-brother Kevin-Prince Boateng, who has 15 caps for the Black Stars.
The Boateng brothers were born in Berlin to a German mother and Ghanaian father and both started their careers at Hertha Berlin before choosing separate footballing paths.
The younger brother Jérôme went on to play for Hamburg and one-season with Manchester City before joining current club Bayern Munich in 2011. Since singing for Bayern, he has won nine major trophies and has established himself in the German first-team.
Internationally, the centre-back has represented Germany at every level from the Under-17’s and has won both the Under-21 European Championship and the World Cup that was held in Brazil.
3 Lukas Podolski (Poland)
Galatasaray striker Podolski was two years old when his family emigrated from his native Poland to West Germany in 1987.
The player could have represented Poland but chose to play for Germany and has gone on to be one of the highest capped players in the history of the national team with 126 appearances to date
Podolski has become somewhat of an unsettled player at club level having never really stayed at a club for more than three years. Perhaps his best form at club level was with his first club FC Köln, where he scored 86 goals in two separate three-year stints at the club.
His finest form has been kept for international level where he has scored 48 goals in 126 caps and claimed the World Cup in 2014 in Brazil.
2 Mesut Özil (Turkey)
Although Mesut Özil was born in the West German city of Gelsenkirchen, the creative midfielder is a third-generation Turkish-German, so could have represented Turkey if he had wished to.
Turkish make up a huge part of the immigrant community in Germany and in 2010 Özil was the recipient of the ‘Bambi Award’ which is given to people who are a prime example of integration into German society.
The versatile playmaker started his career at home-town club Schalke before moving onto Werder Bremen and then Real Madrid after a fine World Cup in South Africa.
In 2013, Arsenal paid a club-record £42.5 million fee to sign the player, making him the most expensive German footballer of all-time.
1 Miroslav Klose (Poland)
Germany’s all-time top goal scorer only moved to the country as an eight year-old in 1986 before honing his skills as an expert striker. The Poland native only knew two words of German when he arrived but has gone on to be one of the most important players in the history of the national team.
Klose’s first taste of professional football came with FC Homburg before moving onto and tasting success with Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich.
The striker who scored 71 goals for Germany before retiring after Germany’s 2014 World Cup triumph has played in Serie A with Lazio since signing in 2011.
The player has won the World Cup, two Bundesligas, two German Cups and the Coppa Italia during his career and picked up 137 caps for the national team before announcing his international retirement in 2014.
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