This may also be due to the fact that the former Admira coach had already worked with Arnautovic in selecting ÖFB U21 and had a great say in the attacking player until then. On March 3, 2010, right after a 3-0 friendly win over Denmark including Arnautovic’s dream free kick goal, the then U21 boss said: “There was Krankl, Herzog, Polster, Prohaska, but Arnautovic said in their eclipse all of them When he recovers his potential. This is by far the best footballer who has walked the field in the last 30 years.”
Herzog often smiled at this statement – all the more so happy that Arnautovic is now on the ÖFB records. Now he’s breaking my record, and now even the dumbest person has understood what I meant at the time,” Herzog said. He described his relationship with Arnautovic as “of great mutual respect”.
“Of course someone will overtake me sooner or later.”
According to his own statements, the 54-year-old is not sad about his relegation to second place. “It was a really great story when I broke the record, but it was clear that sooner or later someone was going to pass me.” This is also because there are usually more internationals nowadays than in Herzog’s time. “But we’ve already played more games than Hanabi, Crankel or Prohaska,” Herzog noted.
The former German Legion raises its hat to Arnautovic’s march. “I know what it takes to be there for so long. You have to be really good for over a decade and stay halfway injury-free,” said Herzog, once again excited about the talent of his designated successor.
“He has an amazing body, speed and good dribbling.” Over time, Arnautovic changed his playing style. “He has become more dangerous lately. In the past, he might have made a little more display and passes without a look, but under team boss Marcel Koehler he has become really good and helped the team,” explained Herzog.
Great personal highlight is missing
However, the big personal advantage is missing from Arnautovic’s ÖFB vita. Krankl is associated with Cordoba, Prohaska with Izmir, Toni Polster with DDR and Herzog himself with Sweden. “That was the goal against Italy for him, it was very unlucky,” Herzog said of the offside goal in the Round of 16. Plus, unlike the ÖFB greats of decades past, Arnautovic won’t be able to back out of the World Cup. “But none of us played a European Championship for that,” Herzog confirmed.
The 33-year-old Arnautovic has appeared twice in a European Championship – as has 30-year-old David Alaba, who has 94 caps and may outshine his friend. “David will break Marko’s record, it’s only a matter of time,” Herzog predicted.
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