Wolze: The English German
© Foto-net

Germany versus England: It's a mouth-watering prospect for every football fan, bringing all the classic confrontations of the past to mind. While everybody remembers the two titanic battles in the final stages of the 1966 and 1990 FIFA World Cups™, the rivalry between the two teams at U-17 level is every bit as intense. Throw in the prospect of a place in the semi-final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea 2007 and you see why Sunday's next instalment in Goyang is such an enticing spectacle for the fans.

But it is not just the spectators who are champing at the bit. Kevin Wolze can hardly wait for the first whistle, and the game has added spice for him since he plies his trade at Bolton Wanderers in the English Premier League.

Until the summer of 2006, the promising talent still played for hometown club VfL Wolfsburg, before his career suddenly took him in a completely different direction. "Bolton had me watched at an U-16 international against Holland and then invited me over for a trial," Wolze tells FIFA.com. "I must have impressed the people over there because they made me an offer soon afterwards."

The defensive midfielder, who models himself on the Brazilian star Ronaldinho, quickly made his mark on the English game, although he does not see himself as a typically "English" player.

"I like to run a lot, I'm aggressive and extremely ambitious. The physical side to the English game suits me. Obviously those are all traditional English qualities. But the old styles of play don't apply to the modern game any more. You have to be flexible and you have to develop your own game."

This is the area where Wolze and his team-mates have managed to impress at the FIFA World Cup in Korea. After a strong showing saw them top their group in the first round, the rising stars of the German game then really turned it on in the last-16 match against the USA, reaching the quarter-finals of the event for the first time in ten years. Having got this far, they need fear no-one.

"We've got a good team, are solid at the back and are always good for a goal. We know what we're capable of and we go into this match with our confidence high," explains Wolze. "Of course we respect the opposition, but we're looking for the win."

The midfielder has already had a taste of what is in store for him: "I played against Daniel Welbeck from Manchester United and Nathan Porritt from Middlesborough at youth level," reveals Wolze, "but I don't have any really close ties with any of the English players." And he does not see any big deal in playing against his adopted country. "The quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup is the high point of my career so far. It doesn't really matter who we're playing against."

The quarter-final match might be the highlight for the German players for now, but many experts see it as just the next stop on Germany's passage towards the title. "We're just thinking about the next game against England," says a diplomatic Wolze. "Don't forget we came into this tournament as the fifth-best team at the European Championships. We're going to give it all we've got in the quarter-final."