Sports mad Thomas Neuert is brimming with national pride right now after seeing Germany become football world champions and Nico Rosberg looking set to win the Formula 1 drivers’ championship.
The director of tennis at the Ritz-Carlton courts was at Germany’s first five matches in Brazil with his brother Andreas.
Germany cruised to World Cup victory in the final at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro thanks to a stunning goal in extra time by Mario Goetze.
Neuert saw Germany’s 7-1 semifinal demolition of Brazil in a sport bar in Sao Paulo and celebrated the championship game against Argentina from another bar in Miami.
Euphoria at thrashing Brazil was tempered with having to respect the feelings of the locals around them as goal after goal went in and their dismay deepened. Nevertheless, he loved every minute of the whole Brazilian experience.
Now back to the routine of Cayman life, Neuert can reflect on the magical month spent in the spiritual home of football.
He had predicted that Germany would win their fourth World Cup 24 years after their last triumph because Brazil and Italy had done the same.
Germany are now focused on the European Championship in two years, starting with a friendly against Argentina in Dusseldorf on Sept. 3 and Scotland in Dortmund four days later.
This crop of Germans is seen as the golden generation that showed enormous potential at the 2010 World Cup when coach Joachim Loew gave so many of them the chance to shine.
Despite injuries to key players, like Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan, the Germans were never really troubled in Brazil and Neuert sees them continuing that success for years to come.
“People talk about Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger but the Under-19 Germans are doing well at the European Championships and they are our next generation,” said Neuert.
“With our youth program, more and more good players are coming through and I’m hoping that like Spain who dominated football for almost eight years or so, we can do the same.”
Germany captain Lahm sensationally quit from international football last week and although Neuert admits it is a blow, he feels the team can absorb the loss seamlessly and Schweinsteiger will step up and be just as effective.
Anyway, Neuert, 37, reasons, Lahm is only 30 and has plenty of time to change his mind and be welcomed back into the fold.
Ace defender Mats Hummels is only 25 and Neuert sees him as a reliable fixture for years to come too. “His goal against France was amazing, that’s why we went through.”
Germany keeper Manuel Neuer is unquestionably the best in his position on the planet, Neuert reckons, and at 28 he too should be in the frame for a long time because stoppers generally last longer than outfield players.
Neuer won the Golden Glove and will stay at Bayern although coveted by other big clubs. Until recently the Bundesliga was seen as a second tier league but with Bayern Munich and Dortmund doing so well at club level, providing the majority of the Germany squad, plus Schalke and Leverkusen raising their standards, it has a new cachet.
There is not a huge German community in Cayman but they had fun watching games at XQ’s on West Bay Road. “When we see each other everyone’s still talking about it,” Neuert said. “We are so happy to be world champions.”
He is looking forward to the European club scene returning next month with the German landscape gaining respect. Robert Lewandowski could have gone to virtually any major European club but chose to move from Dortmund to Bayern.
The fact that Pep Guardiola is now at the Bayern Munich helm augurs well because he achieved so much with Barcelona. Okay, Guardiola lost to eventual Champions League champs Real Madrid in the semifinals but he still managed an armful of trophies.
After the glorious reign of his predecessor Jupp Heynckes, Guardiola had a lot to live up to. Defeat to Dortmund in the DFL Supercup was quickly appeased as Bayern added the UEFA Super Cup to their long list of accolades, before rounding out last season on top of the Bundesliga, as well as becoming FIFA Club World champions.
Neuert expects Bayern to have many more years of being a European force despite losing Toni Kroos to Real Madrid and the fact that they also acquired the brilliant James Rodriguez from Monaco for a huge fee.
He sees Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and possibly Paris St. Germain challenging for Champions League supremacy next month. A big fan of Arsenal because of their German connection, particularly Mesut Ozil, Neuert hopes that having signed Alexis Sanchez, they will vie for the Premier League and finally gain grab the elusive Champions League.
Andre Schurrle proved in Brazil that he deserves more starting opportunities at Chelsea and Neuert expects that for the Blues forward next season.
Liverpool without Luis Suarez who has gone to Barcelona, will not be so potent, Neuert believes. Manchester City and neighbors United should be up there again but are not strong enough to be European kings, he thinks.