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Jogi Löw - from Black Forest to Brazil victory

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Jogi Löw - from Black Forest to Brazil victory
Löw lands in Berlin on Tuesday. Photo: DPA
16:43 CEST+02:00
There could scarcely be another contender for The Local's German of the Week after national coach Joachim Löw hit the footballing jackpot in Brazil on Sunday, guiding Germany to its fourth World Cup title. But the 54-year-old's career has seen its share of bumps too.

From dismissals and redundancy to tittle-tattle about his image and private life, The Local takes a closer look at the man beneath the mop top.

The 2,300 residents of the coach's Black Forest hometown of Schönau in Baden-Württemberg renamed their rural backwater Löwau on road signs for a few days in honour of the town’s favourite son.

"Let's all enjoy this wonderful event!" Mayor Peter Schelshorn gushed as 'Jogi' paraded both team and trophy at Tuesday's triumphant homecoming in Berlin.

But the former midfielder's personal journey to glory has been a long one and often against the odds.

In two decades of coaching, Löw hopped around the club circuit in different countries with varying success.

He won the German Cup with VfB Stuttgart in his first coaching role, but he was sacked by two Turkish teams for poor results and then cut loose again in 2001 when Tirol Innsbruck went bankrupt.

And unlike some fellow national coaches, Löw didn't enter the role as a former star of the sport with the weight and status this carries.

His playing career still spanned a very solid 16 years, though, beginning in 1978 with Germany's FC Freiburg, where he still holds the overall top scoring record, and ending with Swiss club Winterthur in 1994.

He also played four times for the German national under-21 football team.

PHOTO GALLERY: Löw's career in pictures

Löw's major international break came in 2004 when he was summoned by his old friend Jürgen Klinsmann to become his assistant coach with Germany.

Together the pair built a more offensive thrust into the Nationalmannschaft's game, steering it to a third-place finish in the 2006 World Cup.

Following Klinsmann's decision to not renew his contract, Löw was named that year as German's new head coach.

And eight years later, they met again across the field in Brazil as Germany scored a narrow 1:0 victory against Klinsmann’s USA.

With the rugged tackles of his youth now behind him, Löw is perhaps better known these days for his carefully stylized look.

Eminently fragrant, clad in tight pants and tailored shirts, and with a string of commercials for Nivea to his name, he has had to run the gauntlet of gay insinuations, despite his 28-year marriage to wife Daniela.

Not to mention pervasive rumours that his impressive head of hair is in fact a toupee.

Asked by the Welt newspaper how he felt about being “grouped with the gay half” of the national football team - the coach held his ground.

"I’ve heard that before," said Löw, who generally keeps quiet about his private life. “What can I say about it? It’s like with the toupee – that’s also untrue. Feel free to ask my wife.”

As for the wig speculation, his distinctive look is rather the result of grooming sessions every six weeks with star hairdresser Shan Rahimkhan, according to media reports. Not that that has stopped the toupee rumour mill.

“Rubbish. You’re welcome to tug on it," he told a Welt journalist. "There is so much mischief made. I suppose it’s part of my job.” The interviewer took him up on the offer and declared it real.

Where now for Jogi?

So what next for the mastermind of Germany's 2014 triumph?

After signing a contract extension in October 2013, Löw is due to stay in charge until after the 2016 European Championships in France.

That's about as much as he is willing to reveal about his plans. But whatever he may have up his silk sleeve, his hunger for trophies is well backed up with confidence, as he showed on the eve of the final against Argentina: “We know we can write history."

He could certainly now be forgiven for any excessive hubris along the way, and nor is Jogi too proud to show his humility.

The coach says he regards Germany's 7:1 semi-final hammering of hosts Brazil as one high point of his career. But he says he was also overwhelmed by the reaction of the host country's football-crazy supporters after Germany's final victory.

"It is one of the highlights of my career that after we beat Brazil, although the disappointment was enormous, the Brazilians applauded us," Löw said.

And in the unlikely event that the rush he gets from football ever wears thin, he has a few adrenaline-pumping options in reserve.

Löw is a keen jogger and mountain biker, is said to love fast driving – he was banned for six months in May for speeding - and has even climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya.

“I know that I need to be reined in,” Löw said after being caught.

Here at the Local, we are certainly happy for his and Germany's World Cup win. And that Jogi lost that eighties moustache.

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