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Former rebel Hamann delivers loyalty pledge

Tuesday 28th May 2002

Germany midfielder Dietmar Hamann has assured coach Rudi Voller of his full support and promised there will be no repeat of the Euro 2000 player rebellion which destabilised the camp.

"I have learnt my lessons from that disaster," said the Liverpool star.

Hamann, Christian Ziege, Markus Babbel and Jens Jeremies were the chief instigators against then Germany coach Erich Ribbeck following his controversial recall of veteran Lothar Matthaus.

The group failed to win the support of the majority of their team-mates and divided a squad that was dumped out of the competition without a single win.

In the aftermath, the media branded the four as traitors but while the frustrated Babbel ended his international career, the others wangled their way back into Voller's plans.

"The team-spirit in the national camp is even more important than at club level and once you enter a big tournament in a bad mood you never get rid of it," the former Bayern Munich star told Bild.

"This time things won't get out of hand because our current coaching duo of Voller and his assistant Michael Skibbe know exactly what they want and no player is allowed to discuss tactics.

"If all the players were given a say we would end up in a situation like 2000.

"I don't need any extra attention, the coach decides, and I will accept his decision whether he plays me or not."

The 28-year-old was in and out of the team under Voller's predecessors, but his performances for Liverpool have given him the self-confidence to take a leading role at international level.

Voller has always fielded Hamann in his preferred defensive midfield role despite tough competition from Jens Jeremies, Carsten Ramelow and Torsten Frings.

And Hamann is convinced that despite a lack of form and nightmare injury-list, Germany will surprise the sceptical public in the Far East.

"If we don't believe in our abilities to reach the semi-finals we shouldn't have started the trip to Japan," he declared.

Germany face Saudi Arabia, Ireland and Cameroon in World Cup Group E.
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