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FIFA U-20 World Cup

For the Klinsmanns, it's a soccer home

(FIFA.com)
Jurgen Klinsmann and his son, USA U-20 Goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann
© Getty Images
  • FIFA World Cup winner Jurgen Klinsmann supporting son in Korea Republic
  • Jonathan plays as goalkeeper for USA
  • "It's natural that you discuss soccer. It's a soccer home" 

You would think Jurgen Klinsmann has experienced about all there is to experience from football. He’s put on many hats in the game, from decorated player to manager to pundit. However there is one that he is perhaps still getting used to: father. 

Klinsmann is in Korea Republic to support his son, Jonathan, compete for USA as goalkeeper at the FIFA U-20 World Cup. “Just to see this age group, independent of your own son, is fun because you see all the emotions that these young players are going through,” Jurgen told* FIFA.com* in an exclusive interview after watching his son keep his first World Cup clean sheet. “You feel for them because they’re nervous. There’s no real favourite team. Anybody can beat anybody, so it’s really enjoyable. 

“Obviously when your own son plays, you keep your fingers crossed for him! It’s a little bit difficult because he chose to become a goalkeeper (*laughs). *It would’ve been easier if he was a striker, but I think he really enjoys it and it’s a lot of fun.”

Jurgen is considered one of the best forwards to play the game, so how did his son choose to become a goalkeeper?

“At the age of 12,” Jurgen said. “He was an attacking midfielder until then and was very talented and then suddenly he said he wanted to play goalie. At the same time he loved to play basketball, so he was always kind of catching the ball. From there on he was a goalie and he keeps improving!”

Many parents struggle with influencing their sons or daughters in a certain direction for hobbies or interests, but was Jurgen the same?

“No, no, no. I just hoped he would enjoy a team sport. Until the age of 16 he wasn’t sure if he should go with basketball or soccer. But he chose soccer. He was very talented at basketball.”

Jurgen won the FIFA World Cup in 1990 and played in three total, so what kinds of things was he telling Jonathan before he hopped on the plane with his team-mates?

“It’s natural that you discuss soccer,” Jurgen said. “It’s a soccer home. You just try to tell him to be focused when it really matters, to try to be consistent. As a goalie it’s not easy, because it’s really about not making mistakes. You hope he keeps a consistency in his game.

“You can obviously give advice on how to balance a tournament, how to switch your mind a little bit off. If you get too busy in your mind, go out for walks. The off time for these kids is a lot. They train once a day and so what are they doing? The chemistry of a team is really important and also that they find their own ways of keeping themselves busy. You give some ideas of how you can do that, but at the end of the day, they will grow out of the home and go their own way.”

Jonathan helped USA achieve a 1-0 win in their second Group F match against Senegal and spoke about what it meant to have his father in the stands to witness the moment.

“It’s always fun having your family there, because you get to look up in the stands, but I mean at a World Cup game, it’s unbelievable," Jonathan said. "I can’t even describe it.”

Did his father really never push him towards being a striker? “No, he just let it happen. Same applies not even for sports or soccer. They never really pushed me for sports or anything. They let me choose and find my passion. It ended up being soccer and it ended up being in goal. He helps me out every single day and he loves it.”

USA are in Daejeon ahead of their final group stage match against Saudi Arabia, and as Jonathan confirmed, no matter where the team’s journey takes them next, you can bet his dad will be there. “I think his flight’s booked June 12th.”

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