Berlin - Germany captain Philipp Lahm, who announced his retirement from
international football on Friday, is one of the greatest players of his
He is also standing down at the top of his game, only
30 and just five days after joining an elite club of 20 World Cup
winning captains, which puts him up with Diego Maradona, Franz
Beckenbauer and Bobby Moore.
Lahm has not always had an easy career, battling with injury and the hierarchy at his lifelong club Bayern Munich.
But Bayern coach Pepe Guardiola has described Lahm as "the most intelligent footballer I have ever managed."
who played 113 games in a decade of international duty for Germany,
joined Bayern as an 11-year-old. Then he saw himself as an attacking
midfielder in the mould of Mehmet Scholl a pillar of the Bayern team of
the 1990 and 2000s.
But when the club decided his best place was as a defender, Italian tough guy Paolo Maldini became his hero.
Lahm has since made his name as a fearless but quiet leader, dependable and adaptable on the field.
can that be better seen than in the "Mr 100%" tributes paid by the
German press after an inspirational display against Hertha Berlin in a
3-1 win in March.
The victory secured the German title at record
speed for Bayern but Lahm carried out a record 134 passes in a league
game with 100% accuracy.
At the World Cup, Lahm started the group
games in midfield but coach Joachim Loew quickly moved him back to his
habitual place at right or left back.
Even then his adaptability
shone through. At one stage in the stunning 7-1 semi-final win over
Brazil, Lahm forced his way into the penalty area feinted as though
about to shoot and passed to Andre Schuerrle for him to score. It was a
brilliant playmaker's move.
Lahm has scored five goals for Germany
himself. The most important, he says, was a 90th minute strike in the
2008 European Championship semi-final that secured victory over Turkey.
the final it was a mistake between Lahm and goalkeeper Jens Lehmann
that gave away the Fernando Torres goal that gave Spain victory.
Bayern he has won five Bundesliga titles, five German Cups, the German
Super Cup twice and the Champions League, the European Super Cup and the
Club World Cup. He has been captain for eight of those trophies.
He has been loyal to his team through thick and thin however.
made his debut for the senior side in 2002, but there were so many top
defenders and midfielders that he was loaned out to Vfb Stuttgart from
2003 to 2005.
He tore a cruciate ligament in one of his last games for Stuttgart and also suffered a stress fracture of the foot.
back at Bayern he quickly established himself as first choice back,
turned down a big money move to Barcelona in 2008 and then quickly
Bayern imposed its then biggest ever
disciplinary fine against Lahm in November 2009, reported to be more
than 25,000 euros, for giving a newspaper interview in which he
criticised the club transfer policy and its tactics.
"It could be that my personality had been underrated," he was quoted as saying in a later interview.
me it was important to know how Bayern see me. And there were times
when I had the impression that my opinion wasn't 100% appreciated all
the time. Now, after several good discussions, I have the feeling of
being an important part of the Bayern puzzle. And that was very
important to me."
And again, Lahm bounced back and was made
Germany captain in 2010 - to the anger of holder Michael Ballack - and
club captain in 2011.
His current contract with Bayern runs through to 2018, so Lahm's influence will continue to be seen.