Football Features

11 players you (probably) forgot ever played for Germany

By CJ Smith

Published: 11:00, 17 September 2019 | Updated: 11:06, 17 September 2022

As Match of the Day pundit Gary Lineker once remarked: “football is a simple game, 22 men kick a ball about for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win on penalties.”

Regardless of which players have represented them down the years, the German national team is renowned for having an elite winning mentality that has enabled them to not only succeed in various penalty shootouts, but also lift seven major honours.

Brazil is the one nation that can better Germany’s haul of World Cups of four with five, while only Spain can match them for European Championship wins on three apiece.

Of course, an elite winning mentality can only get you so far as any successful team must rely upon a nucleus of talented players and Germany certainly have had plenty who fit that bill to call upon through the decades, ranging from Franz Beckenbauer to Gerd Muller to Michael Ballack.

But for every world star to pull on the famous white and black shirt, others have been somewhat less memorable. Of course, representing a country with as proud a footballing history as Germany is an achievement in itself but here are 11 players that we had forgotten managed that honour.

Tim Wiese

International caps: 6

Active years: 2008-12

Best known for his seven-year spell as Werder Bremen’s No.1 between 2005-12, Tim Wiese was Germany’s third-choice goalkeeper for all of four years, being a member of the squad that reached the semi-finals at the 2010 World Cup and 2012 Euros.

The rise of Manuel Neuer from 2010 onwards meant that Wiese slipped out of international contention. After retiring in 2014, Wiese enjoyed a brief wrestling career.

Serdar Tasci

International caps: 14

Active years: 2008-10

One of a dozen or so players to come through the youth ranks at Stuttgart to represent Germany this century, Serdar Tasci was regarded as one of Germany’s elite defensive talents in 2008 after helping VFB win the Bundesliga in 2007.

Tasci was named in Joachim Low’s World Cup squad in 2010 but he is yet to add to his international caps since that year. Besides a brief spell on loan at Bayern Munich in 2015-16, Tasci played for Spartak Moscow frpm 2013 until 2018, with a short loan-spell at Bayern in-between, before ending his career in Turkey with Istanbul Basaksehir.

Andreas Hinkel

International caps: 21

Active years: 2003-09

From 2006 until their group stage exit in 2018, Germany reached the semi-finals of every major tournament they took part in, dating back to their failure to progress from the group stage at Euro 2004.

Andreas Hinkel was part of that squad and it seemed to hurt his international chances in the future too as he failed to make another major tournament squad.

David Odonkor

International caps: 16

Years active: 2006-08

David Odonkor was Germany’s super-sub at the 2006 World Cup due to the searing pace and unpredictable wing play he brought to the side, while he also collected a runners-up medal at the 2008 European Championships.

A lack of end product allied with injury problems meant that Odonkor slipped out of the international recognition from 2008 onwards and now 38, he is coaching in the German lower leagues.

Marko Marin

International caps: 16

Years active: 2008-10

Following an exceptional start to his career with Borussia Monchengladbach and then Werder Bremen, Marko Marin was tipped to become a key player for Germany as they renovated their squad with the 2010 World Cup in mind.

He was included in the 23-man squad bound for South Africa, featuring twice, but he lost his place in the squad after the tournament and has slipped out of the reckoning entirely in recent years. He last played for Ferencváros.

Lewis Holtby

International caps: 3

Years active: 2010-11

After starring in the Bundesliga with Mainz, Lewis Holtby was drafted into Joachim Low’s squad in 2010, making his debut and winning the man of the match award in a game against Sweden when he was just 20.

Holtby also captained Germany’s Under-21s at the European Championships in 2013 but a move to Tottenham Hotspur saw his progress stall and he is yet to earn a recall. Today he’s playing for Holstein Kiel.

Mike Hanke

International caps: 12

Years active: 2005-07

A powerful, battering ram of a striker, Mike Hanke was well travelled in his career representing five separate Bundesliga clubs before ending his career with Guizhou Renhe in China in 2014.

It was while playing for Wolfsburg between 2005-07, though, that he came to the attention of the German national team selectors, making 12 appearances in that time and scoring once.

Ron-Robert Zieler

International caps: 6

Years active: 2011-15

A former Manchester United youth teamer, Ron-Robert Zieler found it difficult to dislodge Kasper Schmeichel from the Leicester team in 2016-17 and has seen his international chances diminish as a result.

Since lifting the World Cup as Germany’s third-choice ‘keeper in 2014 he’s represented Stuttgart and FC Köln on loan and can today be found at Hannover 96.

Clemens Fritz

International apps: 22

Years active: 2006-08

Regarded as a club legend at Werder Bremen having spent 11 years of his career with the club, Clemens Fritz retired in 2017 at the age of 36.

Despite featuring regularly in the Bundesliga for close to 15 years, though, Fritz’s career at international level was virtually over in 2008 as he failed to add to his 22 caps. The presence of Philipp Lahm for much of that time might have had something to do with that…

Paulo Rink

International caps: 13

Years active: 1998-2000

Brazil-born Paulo Rink was handed German nationality in the late 1990s and subsequently found himself called into the squad by Berti Vogts, making 13 appearances, in total.

Rink was the first Brazil-born player to represent Germany and has since been followed by Kevin Kuranyi and Cacau. The most successful years of his career were spent with Bayer Leverkusen, although he retired in his homeland following a spell with Atletico Paranaense.

Fabian Ernst

International caps: 24

Years active: 2002-06

Another member of Werder Bremen’s impressive side during the 2000s, Fabian Ernst was earmarked as a future German regular after amassing 31 caps for the Under-21s between 1998-2001.

He struggled to establish himself as a regular despite being called up frequently for a few years and while he carved out a successful career for himself in the Bundesliga, he was unable to win a single cap from 2006 onwards.