Philipp Lahm, captain of the German national team, has retired from the international game after leading Die Mannschaft to the 2014 FIFA World Cup championship. Lahm, who has played in 113 matches for country, will now focus on club play, a club the 30-year old has been with since he was 12-years old.
Lahm was key in Germany’s run towards the country’s fourth soccer world championship. Through club play, the defender has shown an uncanny ability to play left, right or move up into a midfield position. Impressing club coaches with his intelligence on the pitch, and his ability to slide into almost any defensive role, national team head coach Joachim Loew started the veteran player in a midfield position for group play in Brazil. However, unlike club play, the defense suffered with-out Lahm in his normal back position and the team gave up two goals to the Ghana Black Stars in a second match draw.
Once out of group play, Loew moved Lahm back to a more familiar right back position and Germany was off and running. Running all the way into the finals against Argentina. Lahm was a key part of the German team’s success in the knockout stages, helping to keep their opponents away from the goal and initiating counter attacks. However, with all the celebration after winning the title, the captain knew he would not don the German colors for a match again. He knew, but no one else did.
As the captain raised the World Cup trophy over his head, Lahm knew that he had played in his last match for Die Mannschaft and it was now time to retire from the international game. On Monday, Lahm informed coach Loew and the German national team that he was no longer available for matches. After a decade with the national team, Lahm will now focus on his club, Bayern Munich. The 30-year old admitted that all season he had been thinking about ending his international career, and after winning the top prize in soccer, what better time to do it.
Bayern topped the Bundesliga standings last season with 90 points coming from a dominating 29 wins. The team was in single digits with draws and losses, three and two respectively, and is a favorite to again top the German premier league standings. Besides league play, Bayern will begin group play of the European Champions League. Bayern should benefit even more from having Lahm without any future match obligations to the national team.
With 113 matches played for Germany, Lahm trails fellow countrymen Lothar Matthaus, Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolskihas for fourth on the most national team caps. Lahm has participated in three European Championships, beginning in 2004, and has been a member of three World Cup squads. Being part of the team that brought a fourth star to the German national team jersey and playing an important role in the first world championship for a unified Germany is the perfect way to end an international career.
After Lahm announced he was retiring from national team and international games, the captain may be the beginning of a push by Die Mannschaft into a rebuilding era. While the German machine is always a tough team, and more World Cup tournaments ahead for stars like Thomas Mueller and Toni Kroos, there will be more openings sure to come before the national team moves into qualifying matches for the next World Cup and European tournaments. Legendary striker Miroslav Klose will likely join Lahm in retirement from at least the national team in the near future.
Commentary by Carl Auer