Humans as a collective whole, cynical and rarely as prying as life’s few romantics would urge them to be, might see Das Reboot, Raphael Honigstein’s un-quilting narrative of how German football reinvented itself to become 2014 World Cup champions, as a story without that mind-melting twist you’d sniff out in a fictional novel. After all, who wants to read story to which they already know the ending? Furthermore, it’s a true story, a story to which the majority of planet Earth’s population already watched unfold on their televisions from every corner of the globe 18 months ago. This is the book that came after the movie, is it not?
So why? Why in God’s good name would anyone need an author to paint them a picture they’ve already seen?
Here’s why. Because Honigstein dives much deeper than the tournament itself. His knowledge and proximity to the German game is borderline jarring. Had I not seen the brief author bio with Honigstein’s portrait included in the final pages, I might have truly believed he’s been a ubiquitous fly on the wall in German football’s dressing rooms, training camps, and even dugouts over the last 25 years. The proximity he boasts to key characters in Die Mannschaft and its supporting cast forges an intimacy on personal level to the reader, who, unknowingly, adopts a peculiar affection for its protagonists.
The tale reflects the world champion German national team’s in-house dynamic throughout their journey. Individually, Honigstein portrays each of the key performers (those who played significant roles in lifting the trophy, players and staff alike) in light that peels back the glitzy celebrity persona the public has clad them in, and boils these icons down to the human beings we forget they really are. Then he simmers together all these unique flavors hidden under their shells to present an all-conquering compound - the team that conquered football at the Maracanã.
Inside its pages, laced with history and explanations of epochs past, never before heard anecdotes are staccato bursts of color in a twisting journey. From the German game’s dark ages to Mario Götze’s euphoric winner in Rio, trace the steps, each as necessary as its predecessor, to learn the true story of Germany’s fourth star over the crest. In time, this book will become a household name on any true football fan’s bookshelf. My only regret is that it took me so long to get to crack it open.