Statistics do not always tell the full story, but in the case of the Germany women's team they can only confirm the level of dominance the European champions - who beat England 6-2 on Thursday to claim their latest title - continue to exert over the international game.
Thursday's success gave Germany their fifth UEFA European Women's Championship in a row, a run dating back to 1995, and seventh overall. They have also won the last two FIFA Women's World Cups, and are aiming for a hat-trick on home soil in 2011. Moreover, they are unbeaten in 47 European Championship matches, including qualifying, since May 1996. That includes a ten-year, 35-game winning streak, and since a final tournament including a group stage was introduced in 1997, Germany are unbeaten in 21 such fixtures, winning 19 in a row.
Silvia Neid has been part of all seven Germany triumphs, first as player, then assistant to Tina Theune and then in this tournament as coach. "Our first national-team game was in 1982; I was on that squad," she said. "At first we didn't qualify for the European Championship, we first qualified in 1989. We were underdogs but we won. It continued like this because the German Football Association (DFB) is well structured, we have a good league, the Bundesliga, and we have good scouting. I think we are doing things the right way but still have to work hard to keep this up."
Germany's dominance can be dated back to their first women's national trainer Gero Bisanz, also director of the renowned DFB coach training programme in Cologne between 1971 and 2000. He was appointed to lead the female team in 1982, masterminding the early triumphs, and hand-picked from his squad the two coaches that were to succeed him, Theune and Neid, as well as working with the clubs to improve training and devise a uniform tactical style that ensured players were used to the system they would play in the national side.
"My task was to build up the team; I had no experience but I learned in the first two or three years," Bisanz told uefa.com in a 2006 interview. "Then I had Tina as a student and we were trying to find young players, 17, 18, 19 years old with a minimum three or four years playing experience; Silvia was one of them."
Bisanz stepped down in 1996, having already given five-time European champion Birgit Prinz her debut. For the next nine years, Theune led a side that never relinquished the continental title and lifted the 2003 World Cup, before handing over in 2005 to Neid, who already had global and European coaching honours at youth level. With the young likes of Kim Kulig, Célia Okoyino da Mbabi, Fatmire Bajramaj, Bianca Schmidt and Babett Peter in the squad in Finland, Germany's successful run looks set to continue with huge crowds behind them in the World Cup in two years' time.
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