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Jul 9, 2006

Klinsmann keeping cards close to his chest

BERLIN, July 9 (Reuters) - Juergen Klinsmann again asked for more time to decide whether he will stay on as Germany coach even as a crowd of 52,000 chanted his name and one-time critic Franz Beckenbauer pleaded with him to continue on Saturday.

'The 'Kaiser' said 'you'd better keep going',' Klinsmann told a news conference when asked what the man who captained and later coached West Germany teams to World Cup wins said to him on the pitch after Germany beat Portugal 3-1 for third place.

'I told him 'let's wait and see what happens',' Klinsmann added to laughter as he borrowed Beckenbauer's favourite 'Schaun 'mer mal' phrase and turned it against his mentor.

'But seriously, I'm delighted that he holds our work in such high esteem,' Klinsmann said. 'Those words came from his heart. For me as a young guy and young coach to get such a compliment like that from Franz Beckenbauer, it's a special moment.'

Klinsmann has faced criticism for his training methods, reliance on U.S. fitness trainers and a Swiss scout, use of a team psychologist and attacking tactics. But now all the critics and the whole nation want him to stay.

'It was special to hug the chancellor,' said Klinsmann, 41, of an embrace with Chancellor Angela Merkel. 'A couple of months ago when we were getting hit from all sides, she was one of the few who said 'let the boys work in peace'.'

He again said he needs more time to make up his mind.

'I don't know, I've got to let all this sink in,' he said. 'A lot, a lot has happened in the last two years. I need to come to terms with it. I just need some more time to think about it.'

Even FIFA President Sepp Blatter said he thought Klinsmann should stay on.

'I hope that he'll stay longer, they've achieved something here,' he told reporters. 'With their beautiful and attacking style, they've done something for football.

'I'll tell him to stay but he has to decide. The whole country wants him to stay but he has to decide himself.