December 22, 2014

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) At a reception shortly before Christmas, German football federation president Wolfgang Niersbach said his plan for the holidays was to sit back on a sofa, shut off the radio and television and think about the wonderful year behind him.

After winning a fourth World Cup title, Germany has plenty of reason to celebrate 2014 as an extraordinary year. But the Germans don't want to rest on their laurels and again end up waiting 24 years for a World Cup title.

''The year behind us was extraordinary but it shouldn't be the only one,'' Niersbach said. ''We are not going to lean back. That's why we've set out a 10-year plan.''

The ambitious long-term project is aimed at making success more permanent. Few would consider Germany a failure in football, but the title in Brazil was its first championship since the 1996 European Championship.

''When you are first, you always have something to lose,'' German national team director Oliver Bierhoff said. ''It's dangerous to think it's always going to continue like that. We went through that in 1990. Ten years later, you wake up and notice that you've slept through something.''

Germany coach Joachim Loew hopes his team can create somewhat of a dynasty, like Spain did with two consecutive European titles and a World Cup.

''We want to leave our mark on an entire era,'' Loew said.

Germany hopes to follow its World Cup triumph with the 2016 European Championship title in France. Then there are World Cups in 2018 and 2022 and another European tournament in 2020.

''We are still hungry,'' said Hansi Flick, Loew's assistant in Brazil and now the federation's technical director.

Niersbach said ''we should be thankful and humble for what we've achieved,'' but promised to embark on the project for the future.

The plan culminates with the 2024 European Championship that Germany hopes to be awarded.

''It would be a wonderful perspective for us and our most ambitious goal to get the 2024 championship and we are confident we are going to get it,'' Niersbach said. ''Not many nations are able to host a 24-team competition.''

Germany plans to use 10 stadiums, all of them already in existence and most used for the 2006 World Cup.

Another highlight of the project is an 89 million euro ($109 million) academy to be built on the outskirts of Frankfurt, the federation's biggest investment to date. The national training and research facility will be home not only to Loew's team but also to all other national selections starting at youth level.

''It's important to use the momentum of the World Cup title and to lay down structures for future success,'' Bierhoff said.

He and Flick will visit the United States early in 2015 to visit similar academies, and Bierhoff said the academy will also offer its know-how to other nations.

Work on the academy is scheduled to start in 2016 and to be completed by the end of 2018. Frankfurt residents, however, have started a move that could end up in a referendum and ultimately scuttle the project despite previous approval and a contract with city authorities.

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