At an initial glance, Mario Gomez is the only member of the German crew with a red hoop under his national team jersey. But on closer inspection, the 32-year-old is far from being the only member of the German World Cup squad to have made significant steps along his way in the VfB colours. With a total of six players and three coaches, a notable group of the side going to defend the World Champions title in Russia have a distinct history with the Cannstatt Boys.
In 75 international games with Germany’s 'A' national team, Mario Gomez has 31 goals to his credit. Within the current World Cup squad, only Thomas Müller has netted for his country more often (38 goals). Mario Gomez played for VfB from the Under 17s onwards between 2001 and 2009, eventually then returning "home" at the beginning of this year. In 2007, the then 21-year-old made his ‘A’ international debut and scored his first goal for his country. In May that same year, he became a German champion with VfB. With the DFB selection, Gomez was a EURO 2008 runner-up, came third at the 2010 World Cup finals and reached the EURO semi-finals in 2012 and 2016.
Mario Gomez‘ counter-part in attack in the DFB team is Timo Werner, who has scored eight goals in 14 outings with the 'A' national team. Born in Stuttgart, Werner joined VfB as a six-year-old and wore the shirt with the infamous red hoop for some 14 years until 2016. The now 22-year-old is VfB’s youngest ever professional. Under Joachim Löw, Werner made his international debut last March and was a Confederations Cup winner in July 2017.
Between 2011 and 2015, Antonio Rüdiger was active for VfB’s Under 19s, the reserves and the first team – with whom he reached the DFB-Cup final in 2013. A year later, the central defender from VfB made his 'A' international debut (May 2014). Since then, the 25-year-old has made 24 international appearances for Joachim Löw‘s selection – scoring one goal. The highlight thus far: The Confederations Cup success 2017.
Between 2007 and 2013, Joshua Kimmich played his way through the VfB youth teams until Under 19 level, before becoming an Under 19 European Champion with the DFB selection a year later. At just 23 years old, the defender has already made 29 appearances and scored three goals for the German 'A' national team and has been the first-choice right full-back for Joachim Löw since the 2016 European Championships.
Between 2003 and 2010, Sebastian Rudy wore the shirt with the infamous red hoop and in his two full professional seasons with the club, he played 29 competitive games for VfB. With the ‘A’ national team, the midfielder has won 29 caps (1 goal) and has a Confed Cup win under his belt.
Sami Khedira had made 132 competitive appearances for VfB, before making the move to Real Madrid in 2010. In the latter half of the 2007 campaign, the then not yet 20-year-old Stuttgarter was already a first-choice in the team. The now 31-year-old midfielder spent some 15 years at VfB (1995–2010), during which time he became a German 'A' international. Amongst the highlights of his 75 competitive games (7 goals) for Germany, is naturally the 2014 World Cup win.
National team coach Joachim Löw
The German national team coach was initially assistant coach (1995/1996) and then head coach of VfB between 1996 and 1998. Löw guided the Wasenelf to their last DFB-Cup success in 1997 and took the Cannstatt Boys to the European Cup Winner’s Cup a year later. As a player, Löw donned the shirt with the infamous red hoop during the 1980/1981 season, when he made his Bundesliga debut.
Assistant coach Thomas Schneider
Back in 1997, Thomas Schneider triumphed alongside Joachim Löw – then as a VfB player – in the DFB-Cup final. Aside from the domestic cup victory in 1997, the defender was also a championship winner with VfB in 1992, Bundesliga runner-up in 2003 and played in the European Cup Winner’s Cup final in 1998. During his active playing career, Schneider spent 20 years at VfB (1983–2003) - making a total of 176 competitive appearances. In addition, Thomas Schneider was Under 17 coach and then head coach of VfB, before taking on the assistant coach position with the national team alongside Joachim Löw.
Assistant coach Marcus Sorg
During his active playing career, Joachim Löw‘s second assistant coach was active for VfB. Between 1987 and 1993, Marcus Sorg spent six years with the VfB reserves.