February 22, 2017

News: Philipp Lahm retires from the national team

National team captain Philipp Lahm confirmed today that he’s retiring from the German national team. Lahm has played 113 matches and scored 5 goals during his 10 years wearing the jersey of Die Nationalmannschaft. The Bayern player made the decision ahead of the World Cup according to Germany news agency dpa. Lahm added that retiring as a member of the current World Cup winners is an added bonus.

Lahm has featured for the national team both as a left back and a right back. These two positions have given national team Jogi Löw many headaches over the years and his captain’s retirement won’t help in this regard. Löw was informed about the decision on Monday and the DFB president Wolfgang Niersback was made aware of Lahm’s intentions during a phone call with the player today.

National team highlights

During his 10 years on the national team, Lahm worked under three different coaches. His first tournament was the 2004 Euros, which saw Germany being eliminated from the group stages and coach Rudi Völler leaving his position. The defender has been integral part of the national team ever since Jürgen Klinsmann and Jogi Löw took over the reigns. Two injuries kept Lahm out of the team for all of 2005, but the Bayern player made his comeback early in 2006 when he returned to the starting line up during the 4-1 trashing handed to Die Nationalmannschaft by the Italian national team.

Most experts and fans had low expectations ahead of Germany’s World Cup campaign the same year after that result, but the national team proved its doubters wrong and managed to finish third in the tournament on home soil. One of the most memorable moments during the tournament came when Philipp Lahm opened the scoring during the first match of the tournament against Costa Rica.

During his career, Lahm was part of Germany’s set up during three World Cups and three Euros over a decade. Lahm competed in the 2008 Euro final and in two World Cup (2006 and 2010) and one Euro (2012) semi-finals. The Bayern player was the team’s makeshift captain during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa after team captain Michael Ballack was injured ahead of the tournament. After it became apparent that Ballack wouldn’t return to the national team, Lahm was given the captaincy full time from 2011 onward. His efforts for the national team were crowned last Sunday when Germany beat Argentina in the World Cup final, claiming the title for the first time since 1990.

Reactions

Today’s announcement took the German public by surprise, since most fans and pundits had expected that Lahm would play in at least another tournament. DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach told the press today that he was taken by surprise as well, but that Lahm had made a final decision, rendering it ‘unnecessary to try to convince Lahm to stay part of the national team’. On the time Lahm has spent on the national team, Niersbach explained:

He wasn’t just an exceptional player during his 10 years in the national team, he was also role model. I thanked him on behalf of the DFB for the effort that he has put in.

Jogi Löw seconded the president’s opinion, adding about Lahm:

… (He’s)always has been a major and important player who I could involve in going over ideas. Because of his footballing intelligence and versatility he has been playing on a top class level internationally over the last few years, he’s world class, and he proved that during the last few weeks in Brazil as well.

Chancellor Angela Merkel also thanked the player for his commitment over the last few years. His former Bayern teammate and current Germany international Lukas Podolski tweeted:

 

Germany’s top scorer during the tournament and Lahm’s teammate at Bayern Thomas Müller told the press:

If there is such a thing as a good moment to retire from the national team, now might be it. Philipp has put his bones on the line over the years. I’ll ask him about this after the holidays. Our relationship won’t suffer from it. A friendship doesn’t depend on the both of us playing for the German national team.

Future at Bayern

However, Bayern fans needn’t fear that their team is going to lose one of Europe’s finest right backs. Lahm’s contract at Bayern still runs until 2018. Last season the 30-year-old featured in the midfield in most of the matches. Bayern coach Pep Guardiola has referred to Lahm as the ‘most intelligent player whom I have ever worked with’.

Bayern have been breaking all sorts of records over the last few years and Lahm is going to remain an integral part of this Bayern side going forward. Today’s announcement was a gentle reminder that the careers of players like Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger are slowly coming to an end over the next few years.

What do you think? Do you understand Lahm’s decision to retire from international football?

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 30-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball and on the @AufstiegPod.

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