Keeper Julian Hauser told UEFA.com the men in grey of Württembergischer FV's super start at the UEFA Regions' Cup was down to discipline, lucky hair and crucially, "no flip-flops".
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Württembergischer FV are the mystery men of the UEFA Regions' Cup base hotel; never lounging in the sun or ambling along the beach, their appearances at the dinner table see them hunt in a daunting pack, immaculately – and crucially – identically kitted out. That austere reputation was only enhanced after a display of power and control helped them beat Yednyst Plysky 2-0 in their Group A opener.
Goalkeeper Julian Hauser played a starring role in that match in Vila Verde, showing absolute command between the sticks and saving a well-struck Vadim Tarykin penalty early in the second half. "The guy who took the penalty was laughing; he had this great big smile on his face so I knew I had to save it," the 21-year-old told UEFA.com. "It was awesome. When I felt that ball touch my hand it was complete euphoria."
Just reward for a fine collective performance, with coach Wolfgang Kopp's cheerfully hardline take on team building fostering a formidable group ethic. "He has given us a path to follow," explained the imposing Hauser. "He has great tactical know-how and he likes discipline. We see the other teams walking round in unmatched kit and flip-flops; we always wear exactly the same kit – same top, same shorts, same trainers."
And no flip-flops? "No flip-flops. And we get fined if we are caught wearing anything different from anyone else in the team."
Stereotypically Teutonic rigour, perhaps, but it has not been all work, work, work. "The coach said that going out in the sun wouldn't be good for us, so we have been staying in our rooms, watching TV, sleeping and in my case doing a bit of college work," said Hauser, who is studying business as well as playing in the German amateur leagues, sensibly hedging his bets – like so many other young talents at the finals - in case that dream of a professional contract does not come true. "We have a balcony outside one of our rooms so we spend a lot of time there; we see everything that goes on."
Watching it all from a distance might make Württemberg seem a little stand-offish, but they are every bit as excited about playing at the finals as anyone else. "We had a police escort to the stadium in Vila Verde," said Hauser, with no small amount of wonder. "It was a great feeling; you could really feel the excitement on the bus when we saw that."
Proud like all of his side to be wearing the Germany badge, Hauser has dared to stand out from his team-mates in one crucial respect; his hair. However, that lightning flash of white – a canny side-step away from the old short-back-and-sides – may just be a lucky charm.
"When we won through the qualifying round in Malta back in December, I had my hair just like this," he said with a sly smile. "A week before we came out to Portugal, I didn't. But I thought, maybe if it was lucky in Malta it won't do any harm here." It could prove to be a cut above the rest.