The German national team made a surprise appearance on the London Underground as stars including Mario Goetze, Thomas Mueller, Per Mertesacker and Marco Reus used the Tube to travel to training ahead of Tuesday’s friendly with England at Wembley.
The Germany squad, facing the prospect of a long trip to Wembley amid heavy traffic, opted to use public transport instead, boarding at Embankment, close to their hotel, and taking the Bakerloo and Metropolitan lines to reach their destination.
A short walk along Olympic Way -- more commonly known as Wembley Way -- and Germany were ready for their final training session.
The German FA (DFB) tweeted an image of the team making the journey.
Mit der Tube nach Wembley. pic.twitter.com/eujQBn6heO— DFB-Team (@DFB_Team) November 18, 2013
A video on the DFB’s official website described the journey as “unimaginable” but added that some of the squad had also used the Tube for the return trip.
“I have never done anything like this in my career before,” Germany general manager Oliver Bierhoff told dfb.de.
Bierhoff, who spent much of his playing career in Serie A with clubs including Udinese and AC Milan, added: “I experienced a lot in Italy, but nothing like this.”
The 45-year-old said they had considered abandoning their plans to train at Wembley but Arsenal defender Mertesacker had been a driving force in the decision to use the Underground -- which the DFB stressed had not been a PR stunt.
“Per Mertesacker was totally up for it when we had the idea and took responsibility,” Bierhoff said.
The players mixed with London commuters and signed autographs, and Bierhoff -- whose career highlight came at the old Wembley stadium as he scored both goals in the 2-1 victory over Czech Republic in the Euro 96 final -- felt it was a “great experience.”
“It’s always great to have some normality for the national team players and it was really relaxed,” he added. “The English are very polite and unobtrusive. It might have been a bit more expensive than taking the coach but it was also less time-consuming.”
On Tuesday, the German media mocked the national team. The broadsheet Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commented: “Has the national team turned into a daily soap on its way to Brazil?
“And a reminder for the DFB press team -- it’s World Toilet Day today. How about supporting the fight for cleaner public toilets with a visit to the public bathrooms at Wembley? Then you certainly won’t wet your pants ahead of the difficult task against the arch-rivals.”