The jubilation among Germany’s hockey men about the World Cup triumph in the penalty thriller didn’t want to end at all. The players threw away their racquets, rushed towards substitute goalkeeper Jean-Paul Danneberg and celebrated their gold coup. The Cologne keeper saved defending champions Belgium’s seventh and decisive penalty in a dramatic World Cup final and secured Germany’s first title in 17 years.
Goalscorer Niklas Wellen, who became a father during the tournament, was completely overwhelmed. “The last three weeks have been the greatest of my life. It’s crazy that we win today, I’m speechless,” said the 28-year-old. Wellen shot Germany to the title with seven tournament goals and two converted attempts at 5: 4 (3: 3, 1: 2) in the penalty shootout and, as announced, can now hang the gold medal around his son’s neck.
At 9:39 p.m. local time, Captain Mats Grambusch presented the long-awaited trophy, while the players jumped around on the podium to “We are the Champions”. With the first major title in ten years, the DHB selection secured their third world title and is now, together with Australia and the Netherlands, just behind record world champions Pakistan (4). “I’m so incredibly happy for this amazing team. Some have waited so long and have fallen so often,” said national coach André Henning.
The road to the final was not for the faint of heart. “It was a team effort from us. The fact that we came back three times in knockout games is not luck, but shows the quality, the mentality and the character of this team,” said Wellen after the previously extremely exciting games against England in the quarter-finals and Australia in the semi-finals. The team’s self-confidence is enormous. “We’ll win the pot,” Grambusch had promised before the final, although the Belgians have been a very good and experienced team for years.
“They are a world-class team, they have so much quality. We knew it was going to be a big game. The fact that we win it in a penalty shoot-out is crazy,” said the Krefelder Wellen, whose father Dirk flew to India at short notice to support his son and the team. “They have been so dominant in recent years, that’s a great conclusion to our story, that we were able to beat them in the final,” said Wellen, who was also named the tournament’s best player. “The boy is an absolute phenomenon. For me he is currently the best hockey player in the world. He carried us through the tournament,” said teammate Moritz Trompertz.
DHB President Henning Fastrich was also enthusiastic. “The whole of Hockey Germany is proud of this team. It’s the comeback team of all time,” said Fastrich. With the title win and the prospect of another successful tournament at the European Championships in Mönchengladbach in August, the economic situation of the association can also improve. “We are all working very hard to ensure that the next period up to a final is not so long again, but that development continues,” sporting director Martin Schultze said before the final.