Germany's top stars have revealed the rituals that they hope will help them claim their fourth FIFA World Cup™ title in South Africa next month.
The Germans face Hungary in their penultimate FIFA World Cup warm-up match in Budapest on Saturday and open their South African campaign against Australia in Durban on 13 June before facing Serbia and Ghana in Group D. Germany won the World Cup in 1954, 1974 and 1990 and are bidding to win a fourth title, which will give them a fourth star above the German Football Federation (DFB) badge on their traditional white shirts.
Their top players told the German fans' website the rituals they need to experience before running out to represent their country. "My ritual, which I want and need before a game, is when the team stands as a unit in a circle. That gives me a lift," said new captain Philipp Lahm, who replaces ankle-injury victim Michael Ballack as skipper.
Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said he has to touch the goalposts before the game starts. "Just before the whistle at the start of the game, I touch each of the goalposts and the crossbar once," he said. "This simply does me a bit of good."
Centre-back Per Mertesacker says he ignores the razor for a few days. "He who shaves, loses," said the Werder Bremen defender.
Germany's vice-captain and Bayern Munich midfield star Bastian Schweinsteiger likes to be last to arrive at the stadium. "With the national team, I am always the last off the bus and the last to run out on the pitch," he said. "I always wear white boots. When I look down and see my white boots, I feel good."
National coach Joachim Low prefers to take a more introspective approach. "I like to go into myself," he said. "I consider whether we have discussed everything. I watch the players prepare. Then I normally get a positive feeling."