Germany vs. Ghana: The Boateng Brothers' World Cup Duel

By Maik Grossekathöfer

Part 3: A Score to Settle with Germany?

Photo Gallery: The Boatengs' Soccer Duel Photos
DPA

"The boy needed help, but he didn't let anyone near him," says the father. He tried to reach his son by calling him and sending him text messages, but "Kevin never answered." He seems distracted for a moment, as if he were re-examining everything in his mind.

He only learned Kevin-Prince would be playing for Ghana when he read it in the paper that. He says that he would have been pleased if his son had told him himself. They have been back in touch since December, thanks to the efforts of his daughter-in-law. The father and son had a long talk that lasted from 9 p.m. until 4 a.m. Prince Boateng says when Germany plays Ghana at the World Cup, "I won't root for either side. The better team should win."

How does he feel about the fact that Kevin-Prince plans to play for his native country? "I accept it. I support him completely. The German Football Association made him feel that he was no longer needed."

He talks about the events of last May. Before the U21 European championship in Sweden, the team went to a training camp on Tegernsee, a lake near Munich. One player still had to be eliminated. The decision was up to the team council. One of the players who was there, but doesn't want to be identified, says: "Kevin was picked because he had been late for meetings several times. The idea was: Someone who's that unreliable jeopardizes the entire project. If you want to win the title, you can't have anyone stepping out of line. Besides, he was injured."

'A Lack of Discipline and Egotism'

When Kevin-Prince found out, he burst into tears. His half-brother tried to console him. Germany won the championship, and Jerome excelled.

Matthias Sammer, the sports director of the German Football Association, puts it this way: "A lack of discipline and egotism can be discerned in Kevin-Prince. When it comes to his athletic and mental constitution, Jerome is the stronger player." In other words one brother is a good fit for Germany, while the other is not.

Kevin-Prince's manager is sitting in the hotel lobby in Southampton, with his briefcase next to his chair. He says that Kevin-Prince will succeed, one way or the other. "Kevin is also a good singer. Maybe he'll record a record soon."

We'd like to ask Kevin-Prince why he wants to play for Ghana, and we'd like to talk to him about identity. But nothing is free. "What can you offer Mr. Boateng?" the manager asks.

Not money, at any rate.

The manager thinks for a moment. Then he says that we'd have to sign an agreement stating that he would have to read and approve the entire text before it could be published. "I have to protect Mr. Boateng."

There is no interview.

It seems that one of the reasons Kevin-Prince Boateng decided to play for Ghana's national team was because he still has a score to settle with Germany, even if he denies it. Jerome Boateng is playing for Germany, because it seems logical to him. In his case, reason is the motivating factor.

At the Italian restaurant in Hamburg, Jerome looks out the window at the rain. What would he do on June 23 if his brother were running toward the goal with the ball at his feet, and he were the last man who could prevent him from getting there?

Jerome reflects for a moment. A smile darts across his face. "First I would try to take the ball away from him. Totally fair." But if it came to it, then he'd bring him down.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

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