EURO 2024: Echoes of Summer ’06 in Germany

EURO 2024: Echoes of Summer ’06 in Germany

Hot summer days, public viewings in the sun and ice-cold beverages in the vibrant city centers. When Germany last hosted a football tournament, the FIFA World Cup 2006, it was titled a summer fairytale, or Sommermärchen, by the Germans, because of the unique atmosphere around the country. Now it's their turn again to host the upcoming UEFA EURO 2024. A nostalgic recollection of childhood memories by our German writer Johannes Häring.

In the Summer of 2006, my interest in football grew in the 6-year-old me as my family prepared for the World Cup in our home country. Colorful decorations of houses, flags, sticker albums and BBQs in the garden while watching the build-up to the tournament were some of my earliest memories during that particular summer.

What is the Sommermärchen 2006?

While strolling around Berlin’s streets and riverbanks, wherever your eyes wandered, you encountered painted faces, flags, singing, and jolly cheering from people from around the world. Packed restaurants, cafés and pubs showed the matches on their screens and were part of hundreds of organized or not-so-organized public viewings around the cities. People peacefully gathered to watch football; nothing else mattered.


EURO 2024: Echoes of Summer '06 in Germany
IMAGO / Sven Simon | Jürgen Klopp visits the ZDF arena, a special World Cup TV talk show and popular public viewing location during the tournament, Potsdamer Platz, Berlin.

EURO 2024: Echoes of Summer '06 in Germany
IMAGO / MIS | People celebrate together in the decorated streets of Kaiserslautern.

EURO 2024: Echoes of Summer '06 in Germany
L: IMAGO / Pressefoto Baumann | A female fan ahead of Germany’s game against Costa Rica, Munich. | R: IMAGO / SKATA | A sticker collection of the FIFA World Cup 2006.

A Summer Fairytale in Germany

As the anticipation rose ahead of the tournament, you could feel a deep sense of pride and national unity in Germany, as it was the first major tournament hosted by a unified Germany. The fulminant opening ceremony in Munich celebrated Bavarian traditions and featured World Cup legends like Jairzinho, Pelé, Lothar Matthäus and Gerd Müller. Minutes later, Philipp Lahm scored an iconic goal against Costa Rica to open the FIFA World Cup and erupted the living rooms and public viewings across Germany. A wonderful goal that many children have engraved in their mind, especially those who witnessed their first World Cup, like me.

EURO 2024: Echoes of Summer '06 in Germany
IMAGO / Ulmer | The colourful opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup 2006 in Munich.

EURO 2024: Echoes of Summer '06 in Germany
IMAGO / Team 2 | Philipp Lahm scores the iconic goal against Costa Rica, Munich.
EURO 2024: Echoes of Summer '06 in Germany
IMAGO / Hoch Zwei/Angerer | Fans flood the streets of Hamburg’s Schanzenviertel to watch the FIFA World Cup on the provided screens.

EURO 2024: Echoes of Summer '06 in Germany
L: IMAGO / Laci Perenyi | Lionel Messi against the Netherlands in Group C, Frankfurt. | M: IMAGO / Team 2 | Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his decisive penalty against England, Gelsenkirchen. | R: IMAGO / Pro Shots | Ronaldinho prepares to take a free kick against Ghana, Dortmund.

EURO 2024: Echoes of Summer '06 in Germany
L: IMAGO / Lars Reimann | Berlin’s TV Tower received a special World Cup decoration. | R: IMAGO / Martin Hoffmann | English fans have a creative solution to get a better view at the public viewing, Frankfurt.

EURO 2024: Echoes of Summer '06 in Germany
IMAGO / ActionPictures | French fan captures memories during the FIFA World Cup Semifinal, Munich.

The Bitter End for Germany

A quarterfinal thriller against Argentina followed and created one of the most memorable moments of World Cup history. A small note in Jens Lehmann’s socks contained the spots in which the Argentinians would shoot. The mind games worked and set up a huge semifinal against eternal rivals Italy.

But there was no happy end in this story. The German summer fairytale would come to a dramatic end when Andrea Pirlo snuck a pass to wingback Fabio Grosso who rifled the ball into the side netting. Defeat in the 119. minute. Silence and empty faces across the country. It was the end of a blissful summer dream and the final chapter of a magical football fairytale in black, red and gold.

IMAGO / Ulmer / Fabio Grosso beats German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann with a perfect finish into the left corner, FIFA World Cup Semifinal, Dortmund.

IMAGO / Contrast/Streubel | Shakira during the closing ceremony ahead of the FIFA World Cup Final, Berlin.

imago images/Contrast
IMAGO / Contrast / VIP stand during the World Cup Final, the banner reads: “Visiting good friends”, Berlin.

imago/Laci Perenyi
IMAGO / Laci Perenyi | Zinedine Zidane heads to the changing rooms after getting sent off for headbutting Marco Materazzi in the FIFA World Cup Final, Berlin.
EURO 2024: Echoes of Summer '06 in Germany
IMAGO / Schupfner | Euphoric Italian fans with thankful messages towards Germany after winning the FIFA World Cup.

Time for Another Magical Summer in Germany

However, the world has changed since 2006. German football is in an identity crisis, and the fans are split in their opinions. Over the last few years, a lack of encouraging performances and dull appearances by the stars resulted in uncaring and discouraged supporters. Among most, fear of another international debacle is spreading. After the disastrous last two World Cup eliminations and a Round of 16 knock-out against their English rivals at the UEFA EURO 2020, the hosts are worrying about another humiliation.

So through all of this grey mist of desolation, bleakness and dreariness, the German people will have to find sunshine, and their quest begins on June 14 against the Tartan Army from Scotland in Munich. 

Where is the EURO 2024 Final?

In 10 host cities, Germany will welcome their European guests to play for the Henri Delaunay Trophy. Starting in Munich and finishing with the grand final in Berlin, the geographical timeline reminds of Summer ‘06… Everything is set for the ultimate football spectacle.

In June, the summer of football will kick off, a month in which Germany stands still and welcomes guests from all over the world to watch, cheer and root for their nation. Especially during international tournaments like these, football creates a spirit of togetherness and emotional connection like no other sport and that is what pulled me into the greatest game on earth in 2006.

See The Game Magazine’s special page for UEFA EURO 2024.

See our exclusive EURO 2024 collections.

IMAGO Blog: Inspiring topics to cover for EURO 2024.

Words and Photo Selection by Johannes Häring.

The credit of the cover photo: IMAGO / Camera 4