On the 19th of December 1990, some months after West Germany had lifted the World Cup in Italy, a reunited German national team played its first international tie, defeating Switzerland 4-0 in a friendly in Stuttgart. From that day on, all German national team managers could select players for international squads from a larger population of the merged German Democratic Republic (eastern region) and German Federal Republic (western region).
It is nearly 25 years since this Swiss tie but there still appears to be a significant divide between the historical regions when it comes to the German national team. Despite reunification there is a distinct divergence in the birth place of players in German World Cup squads between the west and the east that survives to this day.
Since the 1994 World Cup there has been 136 places available in German World Cup squads. 100 (74%) of these have been filled by western born (or previously western born) players, while only 22 (16%) have been occupied by eastern born (or previously eastern born) players.
As would be expected, many of these footballers have gone to more than one World Cup. Even if we control for this, the statistics largely stay the same. In total 92 German players have travelled to World Cups since 1994, 69 of which were from the west. 7 internationally born Germans have also reached the squad from 2002 onward (Cacau-Brazil, Klose, Trochowski, Podolski-Poland, Marin-former Yugoslavia, Neuville-Switzerland, Asamoah-Ghana). As for the 2014 squad, Toni Kroos is the only player from the old east Germany to make it to Brazil and both Podolski and Klose were born in Poland. The other 20 Germans were born in the west.
Perhaps this effect will fade as time passes. The youngest player of all 92 observations, Julian Draxler, was born in Gladbeck in 1993. This was only some 3 years after Klinsmann, Völler et al (below) lined out for the famous match in Stuttgart. The globalisation of the sport may also serve to create a greater dispersion in birth places, as the data suggests more foreign born players are registering for Germany as time has passed (and many home born players are now registering for other countries, as the current U.S.A squad would suggest).
While recent research challenges the proposition that Germany suffers from an economic divide between the west and east when it comes to the German national football team, the legacy survives.