Green's dad on his son's switch, if World Cup promise was made
MAR 19, 2014 4:08p ET
On Tuesday, 18-year-old German-American Bayern Munich prospect Julian Green committed to making a one-time switch and represent the United States internationally, after a long courtship by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. On Wednesday morning, FOX Soccer caught up with Green's Tampa, Fla.-based father Jerry, to elaborate on his son's decision.
This conversation has been edited for clarity and length but not for content:
FOX Soccer: Have you spoken to Julian since his decision was announced?
Jerry Green: Yeah, I talked to him a little bit yesterday. He was very happy and looking forward to going out and playing -- really excited about it.
FOX: Why did he choose the United States?
JG: I didn't ask him why he chose them, so I can only speculate. I think a lot of it has to do with the comfort level that he feels with the teammates of his and also a lot has to do with the coach.
FOX: How long does Klinsmann's courtship of Julian date back?
JG: Two or three years, it's hard to say. Klinsmann first of all is a great coach, Julian knows that. Of course, he also knows that Klinsmann played for Bayern and he coached Bayern for a little while. So there's that connection there and I think that's a very strong and deep connection for Julian, to know that there is a coach there that he identifies with and has a lot of respect for. At the end of the day, that was probably the thing that won out at the end.
FOX: How much of a factor was Klinsmann's own playing pedigree to Julian, given that he was born just three years before Klinsmann retired?
JG: I think it was huge. If you're a student of the game, the way Julian is, he's well aware of the players who played before him.
FOX: Why did Julian make this decision now?
JG: I don't know why he made it now. My personal thought is that he felt comfortable enough after his two-day trip to Frankfurt with the team. The opportunity to go and participate and practice with the team had a lot to do with it. From what he told me, the team really embraced him, the guys were great. He felt at that point that he was ready to make that choice.
FOX: How much of a factor do you think the 2014 World Cup was in the decision?
JG: I don't think it had anything to do with it, quite frankly and honestly. Julian and I, the times that we've touched on the World Cup, it's not something that he was ever preoccupied with. Really, to be truthful, his preoccupation has always been with Bayern and how he's doing there and how he's doing and how he can continue to make strides to make it to the first team. World Cup conversations, at least between the two of us, have been very, very minimal, if at all. He's never really had a focus on the World Cup. It's not something he's given too much thought to.
FOX: Does he then think that playing for the USA will help his club career?
JG: I think that he feels that it will help his club career. When you play professional soccer, anytime that you can play at a national level, it can only aid you with the team that you're presently playing for. Because their thought is, "Wow, if we have a player on our team and his country team wants him to play" -- now granted he has basically two countries -- it can only help. And it helps in your growth too, overall.
FOX: But wouldn't it have been more convenient to Bayern if he held out for Germany so he wouldn't be traveling so much?
JG: Perhaps. I can't speak for them and I don't know if convenience was something they were really focused on. I think the larger point for the Bayern folks is that they want to make sure that their player isn't exhausted to the point where when he comes back to the club he's not effective. My understanding is that coach Klinsmann did call Bayern and explained to them his plan for Julian as far as him coming here to play games. I think his call to them might have helped ease any concern that they had in that area.
FOX: Did Jurgen and Julian talk about this upcoming World Cup? Did Jurgen make any promises about that?
JG: My understanding from Julian is that the two days that they spent in Frankfurt, the World Cup came up maybe one time and he told him that if you play hard, if you practice hard, if you're good enough, you have an equal shot like anybody else would have. And that's, I guess, all he needed to hear. I think he was satisfied to know that he would have as good a chance as anybody else and that him coming in late would not necessarily hurt him if he was able to perform.
FOX: Was the German federation notified that a switch was happening? Did they put up any resistance?
JG: I don't know what the German position is on Julian. I lived in Germany for 13 years. I have a pretty good idea of how Germans operate and they're very process-oriented. When it comes to soccer, the process is you play for the youth teams and when your time comes you make your way to the national level. They're not as vocal in the media as we are here in America about the way that we do things and what we want. That was never a concern for me, nor was it a concern for Julian because we understand that Germans operate on their own timetable, they believe in their own process. When the time is right, that's when they take action.
FOX: They don't worry about a youth player until he gets into the senior team picture, is what you're saying?
JG: Well, there's just a process that you go through. They realize, the Germans already know, that they have their team already set. They know what players are out there, they absolutely know what talent is there, but they also know that they have a process. And you go through their process and if you're good enough you'll play and that's just how they look at things. I fully believe that had he waited, going through all the steps and waited the time, he certainly would have been involved with them at the national level. But it was always my desire that he play for the American team, that's no secret. But at the end of the day, it was of course his decision to make. As an American, I think Julian can help [the USA]. That's important to me because I want to see us win.