For most people in Great Britain, the U19 European Championships was yet another competition which would have passed by without too much notice, mainly due to Englandâ€™s first round elimination in the group stages.
Despite having a Three Lions team packed with so-called stars of the future including Jack Cork, Scott Sinclair, Victor Moses, Freddie Sears and Ben Mee (to name just a few), the stereotypical England hoodoo – crash and burn – once again proved true.
The other stereotype which continued to be justified was the quality of the Germans, who won the competition by beating fellow European powerhouse Italy 3-1 in the final. And amongst the German ranks was one particularly bright spark, Germany’s newest football sensation, Richard Sukuta-Pasu.
Sukuta-Pasu’s parents came to Germany from the Congo more than 40 years ago. He was born in Wuppertal, where he joined the local side Grun-Weiss Wuppertal, before eventually moving on to Bayer Leverkusen where he recently won the German youth League Championship. Having led the line for Bayer, Sukuta-Pasu then went on to score 3 goals at the Euros, including the game winner in the final against Italy.
The case of Gerald Asamoah has shown that being a black German footballer is far from being an easy experience. Back in 2006 Asamoah was subjected to large amounts of racial abuse during his playing career, leaving him to ask “Is there any point playing for Germany (in such a situation). That’s the question, a very serious one.” (Source here.)
With that in mind, it is interesting to note some of the questions which the German media outlet, Bild.de, asked in a recent interview with Sukuta-Pasu.
BILD: Do you join in singing the German national anthem before the games?
Sukuta-Pasu: “Of course. Why wouldn’t I? I was born in Germany and German kids learn the words in school.”
BILD: Who is your role model?
Sukuta-Pasu: “[Didier] Drogba of Chelsea. He has everything that a footballer needs: strong headers, speed and a great shot. I also think Lukas Podolski is super. Actually, the only difference between us is our skin colourâ€¦”
The “black Podolski” is definitely a player for the future, and he could make a major difference both on and off the pitch.
This advert from 2006, featuring Gerald Asamoah, shows how Germany still faces battles in rooting racism out of the national psyche.