Although Germany have not featured regularly at previous FIFA U-17 World Cups, they can look back on an impressive history at the tournament. In each of the past two editions they have bowed out to the eventual champions, against Switzerland in the Round of 16 in 2009 and against Nigeria in the semi-finals two years earlier in Korea Republic. It was the Golden Eaglets who again proved Germany's conquerors in their only final appearance to date at PR China 1985. Five other showings include a fourth-place finish at Egypt 1997, while the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) made it to the last 16 of Scotland 1989.
Germany came very close to missing out on their third consecutive FIFA U-17 World Cup this year. After winning all six of their initial qualifying matches, Steffen Freund's side travelled to Serbia for the UEFA U-17 European Championship full of confidence. However, a 2-0 loss to the Netherlands and a 1-1 draw with the Czech Republic left the Nationalmannschaft requiring victory in their final group game against Romania. A 1-0 success ultimately sealed their progression to the semi-finals, as well as securing their place at Mexico 2011. A subsequent 2-0 victory against Denmark in the last four set up a repeat of the 2009 final against the Netherlands, who ran out 5-2 winners to claim the coveted continental prize. "Qualifying for a World Cup which only takes place every two years, is a big thing because these teams only get one chance to do so," said coach Freund in an interview with DFB.de.
Many young German talents have used the FIFA U-17 World Cup as a springboard to greater stages in the past. In 2007, Toni Kroos was awarded the adidas Golden Ball and has since gone on to become a first-team regular for Bayern Munich and the senior German national team. Mario Gotze, who took part in the 2009 tournament, is also considered among the country's most gifted young players.