Germany's Loew to stay on despite Euro disappointment
By Erik Kirschbaum
BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's Joachim Loew said he would stay on to lead the World Cup winners to their title defence in Russia in 2018 despite an initial hesitation on whether to continue after a disappointing semi-final defeat to France last week at the Euro 2016.
Loew, who has coached Germany for 10 years and to five straight semi-final appearances at World Cups and Euros, said in a statement on Tuesday he planned to continue, ending some speculation that the 56-year-old might step down.
"Despite our disappointment, the team didn't disappoint," said Loew, who was Juergen Klinsmann's assistant coach for two years before taking over the reins in 2006.
"It was the youngest team in the tournament and I continue to see great potential," added Loew, referring to his team's average age of 25.4 years, which was next to England the youngest at the tournament. Italy had the oldest team with an average age of 29.4 years.
"I'm sure that they'll give us plenty of joy in the future and that's why I remain enthusiastic about continuing to work with these players and accompany their developments going to the 2018 World Cup in Russia."
Loew had triggered speculation that he might step down right after Germany lost to France 2-0 in the semi-final when he was asked about his future.
"I don't know," he told ZDF television just minutes after the final whistle. "It'll take a while (to make a decision)."
Those non-committal comments prompted a wave of support for Loew and an opinion poll by the Emnid polling institute for Bild am Sonntag newspaper showed that 84 percent of Germans wanted the man they call "Jogi" (pronounced 'Yogi') to continue.
Also known as the "Bundestrainer", Loew has led his team to at least the semi-finals in every tournament they have played in since he took over after the 2006 World Cup, where Germany under Klinsmann also reached the semi-final before losing to Italy.
Loew also led Germany to the 2014 World Cup title -- the country's fourth after 1954, 1974 and 1990. Loew's record stands at 137 matches with 90 wins and 23 defeats.
Germany's World Cup defence starts on September 4 with a qualifying match against Norway.
Loew is one of the longest-serving national team coaches anywhere but ranks only third in Germany after 10 years at the helm. Sepp Herberger coached the national side for 20 years and Helmut Schoen served in the role for 12 years.
(Additional reporting by Rene Wagner; writing by Erik Kirschbaum; editing by Gareth Jones)