Boateng brothers put feud aside to make World Cup history
Published 23:00 22/06/10 By David McDonnell
Forget the Charltons and the Nevilles. The Boatengs will make World Cup history on Wednesday when they become the first brothers to play against each other in the tournament.
Jerome and Kevin-Prince Boateng share the same father and were inseparable throughout childhood, despite being brought up by their respective mothers in different households in Berlin.
But while new Manchester City signing Jerome chose to represent Germany, brother Kevin-Prince opted for Ghana, the country of their father's birth, and fate will throw them together today when the two nations meet in Johannesburg.
Despite their closeness growing up and in their early playing careers, the Boateng brothers have not spoken in a month, since Kevin-Prince's poor tackle on Michael Ballack in the FA Cup Final ruled Germany's influential captain out of the World Cup.
Jerome publicly defended Kevin-Prince against the backlash from vengeful Germany fans, some of whom sported T-shirts with the slogan: "Wanted Dead or Alive - Kevin-Prince Boateng", a measure of the anger felt at the loss of Ballack.
Despite defending his brother against the widespread criticism that came his way, Jerome angered Kevin-Prince by saying the tackle warranted a red card, comments which have caused a rift between the once-close siblings.
"We haven't spoken since," said Kevin-Prince. "I wasn't happy about what was said and I said we should go our separate ways. But after the game I will see him, I will hug him and I will shake his hand. It's the World Cup. It's a good time to put things behind you."
Jerome, 21, admitted the problem between the pair had yet to be resolved, and like his brother said he hoped their meeting in the World Cup would end their feud and herald the beginning of a new chapter for them both.
"Strange things happen within families," said Jerome. "In any family there will be times when people have problems and issues - and that's what happened with us. I think and hope that it will sort itself out. We've always been close. He's my brother and I wish him all the best, always.
"We had a difference of opinion about something that happened in football but I don't think this is going to last forever, I think we're going to fix this."
The Boateng brothers could not be more different. Jerome, considered one of the most talented defenders in Europe who has just completed an £11million move from Hamburg to Manchester City, is quieter and more unassuming than his more ostentatious brother.
Portsmouth midfielder Kevin-Prince, the elder at 23, is the antithesis of his younger brother, with a well-documented liking for the trappings that come with the celebrity lifestyle of a millionaire modern-day footballer, including 13 tattoos, a collection of flash cars and a penchant for controversial Tunisian rap music.
He joined Tottenham from Hertha Berlin for £5.4m in 2007, but failed to justify his price tag there, eventually going on loan back to Germany with Borussia Dortmund, before returning to the Premier League with Portsmouth at the beginning of last season.
With Serbia and Germany the favourites to progress from Group D, it seems likely that Kevin-Prince, who started both of Ghana's games here in South Africa, will be the one to lose out, while brother Jerome continues in the tournament.
Germany coach Joachim Low is confident nerves will not be an issue for his young players as they look to maintain their country's proud record of reaching the knockout phase at every World Cup since 1954.
After beginning their campaign with a 4-0 thrashing of Australia, Germany went down 1-0 to Serbia.
But Low claimed that was a temporary blip and backed his players to qualify for the last 16.
"When I talk to the players I don't get the impression they're nervous or worried after the defeat against Serbia," said Low. "Although it is very young, the team has this confidence and inner conviction that it can beat Ghana.
"I think we've digested and worked on the defeat to Serbia in the last two or three days. We're focused and we've prepared for the game against Ghana, a match which will not be easy. Ghana are a good team who have played well but we are convinced we can win this game and can get into the next round."