Defeated, but Proud Germany Is Winner
Byline: JEFF POWELL
GERMANY fought to the last man and the last minute on and off the field of battle last night. A multitude of 65,000 stood their ground as their team were cut down at the very end by a curt fusillade of deadly Italian rifle shots.
Not a soul departed the scene of defeat until the people had paid long and defiant tribute to their heroes. Not until every player had taken his bow.
Not until each of them had been applauded into the dressingroom tunnel by Kommandant Klinsmann.
This was an astonishing outpouring of solidarity in the teeth of defeat most cruel.
Still they stood, to send their World Cup losers on their way into a midnight of disappointment with a thunderous rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone.
Could we believe our ears?
Germans honouring their own with an English anthem. This is a state altered beyond imagination.
So powerful is the movement that it will surely resonate on, beyond Sunday in Berlin, even though Jurgen Klinsmann's team will not be contesting the final of Germany 2006.
An entire people in the extraordinary throes of being liberated from their past by a football tournament came together to elevate a World Cup semi-final into a spiritual experience.
The roar which went up in this inferno of a stadium when the Germany team came out to face Italy was taken up in every city, town, village and hamlet across The Fatherland.
It was the loudest clarion call yet to a new way of life, one which is enabling German men, women and children to take open pride in their country for the first time in more than half a century.
Tens of millions took to their World Cup fan zones, their city squares, their streets and their bars to link arms with a future born of a shared experienced, a collective euphoria which has transcended generations of suppressed patriotism.
In part, Germany has been drawn out of its old, stilted self by the million World Cup visitors who have joined with unconditional gusto their celebrations of a team which has exceeded all the host nation's expectations.
One of FIFA's themes for these Finals reads: Football Can Change The World.
It is changing Germany, for sure. A surge of optimism unfettered by the mistrust of others and the selfflagellation of decades gone by has made the effect of this World Cup more cathartic for Germans than even the fall of the Berlin Wall. …