RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — United they stand, right at the top of the football world.
And right on South American soil.
Germany won its fourth World Cup title on Sunday, but its first since a country torn apart by political divisions at the end of World War II was finally glued back together.
"It was always my dream to get on the summit and look down," said Miroslav Klose, a Polish-born Germany striker who is a perfect example of the country's unification and its diversity. "Incredible."
The Germany victory at the iconic Maracana Stadium was special for another reason, too. The Germans became the first European team to win a World Cup in the Americas, coming after they humiliated host Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals and then got the best of Argentina and Lionel Messi 1-0 in the final.
Along the way, Klose set the record for World Cup goals, scoring his 16th in the rout over Brazil to push himself ahead of Brazil striker Ronaldo.
Klose didn't score on Sunday at the Maracana, however. Instead, it was the man who replaced him in the 88th minute, Mario Goetze, that did.
Goetze's moment of brilliance, chesting the ball to control it and then volleying past Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero deep in extra time, was just another sample of the teamwork that has lifted this tightly knit Germany setup to the top.
"The team did it beautifully," said Manuel Neuer, voted the best goalkeeper of the tournament. "At some point we'll stop celebrating, but we'll still wake up with a smile."
After winning the World Cup title in 1954, West Germany turned itself into a powerhouse on the field. The west side of the divided nation later won the 1972 European Championship and then the 1974 World Cup, playing as the host.
Another European title came in 1980, followed a loss to Italy in the 1982 World Cup final. The West Germans again reached the final in 1986, but lost to an Argentina team led by Diego Maradona in Mexico. They got their revenge four years later, beating the Argentines in 1990 to win the World Cup for a third time.