Only in the movies do we rejoice when someone dies.
If it’s one of the baddies. Or, in my case, the dreadful Roberto Benigni in Life is Beautiful.
Yet today football (I just slipped the word ‘soccer’ into the headline for any stray Americans passing through from searching for a piece of David Cook’s anatomy) is slipping its black armband onto its arm and bowing its head in sorrow.
Germany won. Which means football died.
I know my words may seem harsh. Once, even I was an admirer of the player with the fattest legs in football, Bayern Munich’s Gerd Mueller.
However, we have suffered too much German indignity since then, despite the nation’s excellent hosting of the last World Cup.
It is not so easy to forgive Germany’s disgraceful presence in the 1990 World Cup Final, when they managed to behave in a more cynical manner than the Argentinians.
No mean achievement. Or, rather, a very mean achievement indeed.
Yes, German national football is not as debased as the gutter-scraping Italian form of the species.
But still we have tall men with large legs and the scowls of a hungry Chechen bodyguard wandering around the pitch with the sole intention of menacing the neighborhood.
Of course Portugal played like teenagers on crystal meth. Of course there is no excuse for Cristiano Ronaldo’s acting, which really has risen to the level of Russell Crowe’s American accent.
Yet has there ever been a German national team that favored football over brute force, football over denial, football over a cynicism that even a hedge fund manager might admire?
We hear wise souls declare how every country’s national team merely reflects its indigent character.
But the Germans I know are all rather amusing, playful and brave individuals, generations removed from the bleak ugliness of spirit possessed by the likes of Karl-Heinz Schnellinger and Jurgen Kohler.
Perhaps for most fans, the most depressing prospect is that the German style is the only way to win. As, frankly, the Germans have proved on far too many throat-stopping occasions.
I am sure I am not alone when I admit that I caused severe damage to a hotel ceiling when Denmark’s John Jensen scored against Germany in Euro of 1992.
The source was the bliss at seeing the school bully cut down by the blind boy who sits quietly at the back of the class while the bully pinches his arm and calls him names.
In the semi-finals, Germany will meet either Croatia or Turkey.
One, a country that was so helpful to Germany during the Second World War.
The other, a country that regards Germany as having been so helpful to its migrant citizens for the past forty years.
I think I know which matchup I would prefer.
Still, whichever it is, I, and perhaps millions of others all around the world, will be cheering for the blind boys.
Perhaps it is just our naive belief in blind luck.
The Pond thanks Alex Kehr for his luscious shot of a Donner Kebab made in Cologne.