Lukas Podolski played his final for the German National team on Wednesday, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 over England. Thus, the 31 year old “Poldi” finishes his international career with 130 senior appearances and 49 goals.
Germany’s gain was Poland’s loss these last 10+ years on the international circuit. Poldi was Polish-eligible, but in 2004 then-Mannschaft boss Rudi Völler called up the 19 year old on the heels of a fantastic campaign at 1.FC Köln. A couple years later was peak Poldi season, internationally, as the striker scored 12 goals in 17 appearances for the national team. And three World Cups and 49 goals later, Poldi’s story is finished. At least the international chapter, since Podolski still start’s Galatasaray in Turkey’s Süper Lig.
Okay. Enough with the official sports writing voice. After all, this is Prinz Poldi I’m writing about! Let’s get this word party lit with some mood music:
Ah, so much better.
Poldi’s send off was the spectacle deserving of this strange prince. First the music (pre-match and when he was subbed off at 84′). Hans Zimmer got involved. (Holy hell, since when did Poldi earn this honor?)
Now the ethereal composer can add Polodski’s final match to his long list of Oscar-nominated and winning achievements he’s scored, like The Thin Red Line.
Then there’s the goal. Bloody hell, what a goal! Perhaps the best send off goal I’ve seen in my own soccer viewing days. And for Poldi, of all people. The strange prince.
Outside the f-ing box. A slight adjustment on the ball (gotta square up that “dead hammer”!). Then lash the bladder outta that ball his left foot. Oh, and he commands the ball to swerve just up and around English keeper Joe Hart.
Strange Prince, we love you!
Forever did I underestimate your footish skills and acumen. Forever have I underappreciated you!
This goal was a relief after the wince-worth attempts, especially in the first half, of Polodski’s teammates to feed him a ball in the English box. Of the goal itself is utterly contingent on Toni “We-Miss-You-in-the-Bundesliga” Kroos’s supreme pass to Andre Schürrle, who did his duty and quickly flicked-laid the ball to Polodski for the goal attempt.
Time for some Poldi words (supported by ultra singing in the background):
My German acquaintances tell me that Poldi’s German is not school pupil imitable, but it’s passable here to my language-learning gummed ears.
Now Mixed Zone Poldi, affirming the phenomenologist in all of us (it’s all experience, baby!):
Even a farewell for all us idiots. What a cutie!
Now it’s time for the funky beat montage all glorious with Poldilishiness:
Okay, “take” time: honestly, I’ve never “gotten” Polodski, except maybe as a sort of cult figure in Köln. Sure, like many die Nationalmannschaft followers, I’ve frequently been very frustrated by Löw constantly including Polodski on the roster, especially the during the 2014 World Cup. And part of me inwardly and pettily chuckled to see Polodski fall a bit flat results-wise during his stint at Arsenal. Aside from some moments during the 2010 World Cup or during his last stint at 1.FC Köln, his utility as a soccer player puzzled me.
And yet, Poldi was indispensable, it turns out.
We needed Polodski. We needed his blocky headed play, his “dead hammer” leg. His confidence. His silliness. His smile and laugh. His puckiness. Because sport isn’t just results, wins, and standings. And of course we learn, for example via Rafa Honigstein’s Das Reboot, that Poldi ultimate contributes to these very steel-cold metrics, such as his leadership role during the 2014 World Cup, which helped hold a team together that badly needed some glue in the run-up to winning its 4th World Cup trophy.
Fare thee well, Strange Prince.
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