German troops in Afghanistan relish World Cup victory

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German Col. Achim Ruetzel watching Germany's World Cup victory from Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of NATO.

German Col. Achim Ruetzel watching Germany’s World Cup victory from Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of NATO.

After more than 100 tense minutes, German troops in Kabul hit the roof when their team scored the winning goal in Sunday’s World Cup game against Argentina.

“The reaction from the troops was unbelievable,” said Col. Achim Ruetzel, chief of the Civil Aviation Transition Branch. “Everyone was jumping around with his arms in the air and everybody was – almost kissing each other, I would say.”

A few U.S. troops were also watching the game at the German troops’ invitation, Ruetzel told Outside the Wire on Tuesday.

“Obviously, they were all cheering for the German team, not for Argentina,” he said.

For the Bundeswehr troops in Kabul, the game was both exciting and exhausting, said Col. Frank Graefe, who will replace Ruetzel.

“The longer the game was, the more people stood up and walked out of the room because they couldn’t stand it anymore,” Graefe said. “Everybody was standing for the last 15 minutes.”

Soccer is the most beloved sport in Germany, so it is impossible to overstate what Germany’s World Cup victory means to morale for German troops.

“There are serious scientists who say that we have three men who founded our federal republic: One was our first chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, with his orientation to the west; the second one was Ludwig Erhard, with the miracle of building up our economy again; but some say the real foundation of Germany was in 1954 when we won the World Cup for the first time [thanks to]our famous Sepp Herberger, who was then coach of the team, “Graefe said.

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