Mill recalls Germany's Olympic glory days
Ask anyone to think of Germany's record-breaking players and the names of greats such as Lothar Matthaus, Gerd Muller, Uwe Seeler and Franz Beckenbauer, among others, will no doubt spring to mind. Yet one man frequently left off that list is Frank Mill, the nation's most-capped player and all-time top scorer at Men's Olympic Football Tournaments with ten goals in 20 outings.
The striker took part at the 1984 and 1988 editions and captained the side to a bronze medal in Seoul 28 years ago. "Obviously memories have surfaced again over the last few days, especially as I get a lot of interview requests," Mill cheerfully told FIFA.com in response to a question about his past.
"The Olympics are a wonderful and extraordinary experience for every participant," he continued. "You see a lot of different disciplines and diverse athletes, whether it be a two-metre (6'5") wrestler or someone who's just 1.50 metres (4'9") tall. You can go and see the events and also soak up the atmosphere in the Olympic Village. Back then I saw Ulrike Meyfarth, Carl Lewis and a lot of great athletes in action live. You don't forget those kinds of things."
In a career spanning almost two decades Mill made 387 Bundesliga appearances, scoring 123 goals, for Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Monchengladbach, Rot-Weiss Essen and Fortuna Dusseldorf. The 1989 DFB Cup was the only title he won at club level but, after winning bronze with Germany in 1988, 'Franky' added the 1990 FIFA World Cup™ to his collection. However, he does not consider himself a world champion as he did not make an appearance at the finals in Italy: "I feel like a bronze medal winner because I was actively there and could contribute something to that. It's a different feeling when you're out on the pitch."
Germany's 3-0 triumph over China PR in their opening game in 1988 lives long in Mill's memory, as he found the net twice. One of those strikes was later chosen as 'Goal of the Month' in his homeland. "It was one of the few goals I scored from outside the penalty area," Mill recalled. "It was a shot from about 20 metres."
"Personally I can't understand clubs not releasing their players," Mill added. "It would've been good for someone like Joshua Kimmich or Leroy Sane to get a taste of the Olympics. At most they would've missed one or two games for their clubs. That would've been manageable. It deprives young people of a fantastic experience. We shouldn't forget that it's been almost 30 years since a German team has been to the Olympics."
Now Matthias Ginter, Lars Bender and Co have their sights set on glory, and Mill believes Germany are capable returning home with a medal. "They can definitely get to the quarter-finals but I can see them getting on the podium too. They don't have any reason to fear Brazil, Mexico or Argentina."
The 58-year-old also offered some advice for the German ensemble in Brazil: "It's important to avoid losing at the start of the tournament. A win can spur players on, as it did with us in 1988."
Coach Horst Hrubesch's charges begin their Group C campaign on Thursday 4 August against Mexico, before facing Korea Republic (7 August) and Fiji (10 August). A potential quarter-final opponent is Argentina, one of the most successful teams in the history of Olympic football. Two years after Germany's World Cup Final triumph over the Albiceleste, it would no doubt be another thrilling knock-out encounter on Brazilian soil.