Novice coach Heiko Herrlich has been appointed to the Germany U-17 helm for the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2007 from 18 August until 9 September in Korea Republic, the German Football Association (DFB) has announced. In a surprise development, the former international takes over the reins from Paul Schomann, who recently led his team to fifth at the UEFA U-17 European Championships in Belgium and a place at a FIFA World Cup finals for the first time since 1999.
"The change is a standard procedure, because Heiko Herrlich was hired to coach the juniors born in 1990, the future U-18 squad, from the start of the new season," explained DFB Director of Sport Matthias Sammer. "Paul Schomann naturally takes huge personal credit for this team's achievement at U-17 level in finishing fifth at the European Championships and thus qualifying for the World Cup. However, in the interests of long-term planning and continuity with this group, I've informed him that Heiko Herrlich will succeed him after the summer break."
Schomann reacted with understandable disappointment. "I'm deeply disappointed at this decision, as I would have liked to coach the U-17s at the World Cup. It would logically have been the highlight and appropriate conclusion to the three years I've spent working with this team. However, I have to accept the Director of Sport's decision."
The appointment is the first high-profile position in Herrlich's brief coaching career. The former striker, a UEFA Champions League and German championship winner as a player, was awarded his coaching licence in 2005 and currently supervises the Borussia Dortmund U-19 squad. "I have enormous respect for the work done by Paul Schomann. To come in as his successor, and start my work as a coach with the DFB at a World Cup, is a huge challenge for me personally," the 35-year-old commented.