Visitors to Jerome Boateng’s official home page are greeted by the words: 'Live your dream'. The player then explains the thinking behind this inspirational rallying cry: "You’re lying there, still awake. You have images in your head, images of your idols. And then you see yourself, right there in their midst. You know it’s a dream. But then you start fighting to make it come true."
The Germany centre-half really is living the dream. He has won everything there is to win with his club Bayern Munich: domestic championships and knockout cups, the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup. The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ is the 25-year-old’s second appearance at the global showdown and this time he is hoping he and his team-mates can capture the biggest prize of all.
"We have magnificent players and loads of quality in the starting line-up and on the bench," Boateng told FIFA. "It means we can always vary our play, and every one of us can influence the game at a moment’s notice. That’s definitely a plus."
No goals against Jerome
The Bayern man plays an important part in head coach Joachim Low’s defensive plan, lining up at right-back alongside Per Mertesacker, Mats Hummels and Benedikt Howedes and proving a composed and authoritative figure so far.
The Germans have conceded two goals in their three matches so far - and with Boateng in the starting line-up, the three-time world champions have kept two clean sheets. Intriguingly, the goals Philipp Lahm and Co let in against the Black Stars from Ghana were scored when Berlin-born Boateng was no longer on the field, as he had been substituted at half-time with a minor injury.
"We’ve done well so far apart from the second half against Ghana. It was end-to-end and totally open, and we didn’t want that. But we performed well against Portugal and USA. Overall, we can be happy enough. At the end of the day we’ve comfortably won our group, and now we want to take the next step against Algeria."
Monday’s opponents are difficult and dangerous, as Low has been repeatedly warning since the composition of the tie became clear. "You sense huge determination and passion. The players have French roots, and many of them have come through the very good French coaching system. And I’ve seldom seen such a physically robust team.
"Their forwards are quick and the defence is strong. Algeria keep it very tight and they’re smart tacklers. Anyone who believes we can start thinking about the quarter-finals already is making a big mistake. They have fantastic ability."
A dream come true
Boateng expressed similar opinions to the coach when he previewed Monday’s clash with the Africans in Porto Alegre. "We’re very focused," he said. "It’ll be a difficult match against tough opponents. They have nothing to lose, and we’ve got to be looking only at ourselves. But I’m convinced we’ll hit peak form and go through."
The player has visibly grown in stature and confidence since switching to Munich from Manchester City, reflected in the targets he set when he spoke to FIFA.com prior to leaving for Brazil: "I hope we make it to the Final, and then go on and win it."
The Germans appear to be running into form and the players feel at home in Brazil. "We’re relaxed and enjoying listening to Brazilian music. Our base is fantastic and the weather’s great, but that doesn’t mean there’s any danger of complacency."
If Low’s team do succeed in overcoming Algeria, big-name opponents lie in wait for the defender and his team-mates. With the prospect of such mouth-watering clashes, it is clear that Boateng is living the dream.