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Klinsmann, now the U.S. coach, took over a dispirited Germany in 2004 and set about revitalising an ageing squad that had failed miserably at the European Championships in Portugal.
The former Tottenham attacker -- who will face Germany in Brazil later this month -- installed several youngsters in Die Nationalmannschaft. He also hired fitness coaches and scouts such as Urs Siegenthaler who still work for the German FA (DFB).
Players such as Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski and Mertesacker became symbols of Klinsmann's resurgent team as Germany, the tournament hosts, reached the last four of the 2006 World Cup.
And Mertesacker said: "He was the first to trust a very young generation. Thanks to him, the wind of change was blowing at the DFB. What Jurgen Klinsmann started back then continues to live on. Playing against him will be something special."
On Saturday, Germany take on Ghana in their second Group G match, with Mertesacker set to win his 100th cap.
"I would not have counted on that a few years ago," the Arsenal player said. "I am proud to have been part of the DFB team for nearly 10 years. It's still a lot of fun, and tournaments like the one here in Brazil are definitely highlights."
But he warned that Germany would face a tough task against a Ghana team that needs to win following the opening 2-1 defeat to the U.S.
"It's already a final for Ghana," he said. "They will want to shine and excel in every way."