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Beckenbauer urges Klinsmann to stay on

BERLIN, July 6 (Reuters) - Franz Beckenbauer said on Thursday he hoped Juergen Klinsmann would stay on as coach because the job he started rebuilding Germany football is not finished yet.

Germany's World Cup organising committee president, who led West Germany to the championship as a player in 1974 and coach in 1990, praised Klinsmann for taking his young team to the semi-final even though he has long been a critic of the coach.

'The team has faith in him, he has faith in the team, and those are the best possible conditions,' Beckenbauer told reporters.

'I think he should stay on. He should finish what he's started,' he added.

A huge majority in Germany appear to agree. Among 1,002 Germans polled on July 5 by the Forsa research institute, 93 percent said they wanted Klinsmann to continue and 95 percent said they were proud of the team's World Cup performance.

Goalkeeper Jens Lehmann also urged Klinsmann to continue, saying his own international future could depend on the coach's decision to stay or go.

'Juergen has introduced a new approach at the national team, bringing in new training methods and a sense of individual responsibility for the all the players,' Lehmann said at a news conference on Thursday.

'If he says he's leaving I'll be very disappointed. We'll all be encouraging him to stay on.'

Beckenbauer had been critical of everything from Klinsmann's decision to live in California and commute back and forth to Germany as well as the former striker's emphasis on high-scoring, attacking football.

Beckenbauer said, however, no one should expect Klinsmann, whose two-year contract runs out after the World Cup, to make an instant decision.

DECIDE SOON

Some German soccer officials have said he must decide soon because Germany's Euro 2008 qualifying campaign begins in eight weeks. Germany's next match is a friendly against Sweden on Aug. 16 before their first qualifier against Ireland on Sept. 2.

'I think it's important that he doesn't let himself be influenced by the impressions of the World Cup,' said Beckenbauer, who quit himself after winning the championship as West Germany coach in 1990.

Beckenbauer, who is also a German football association (DFB) director, was among those who hired Klinsmann two years ago after two other candidates turned them down.

'He's doing exactly the right thing now,' said Beckenbauer. 'He's going to go home, discuss it all with his family. He's going to let the impressions of the World Cup go by and will hopefully make the right decision.'

Klinsmann featured in Beckenbauer's team which won the World Cup in 1990.