As the World Cup final came to a close, the final moments of the coverage were locked on Bastian Schweinsteiger who was battered to the floor after heading the ball away from danger with the last touch of the tournament. ‘The Chosen One’, as he has inscribed on his boots, had played the game of his life to claim football’s biggest prize – ending Germany’s 24-year wait for further glory.
The brutish Bavarian has had an outstanding career, having won seven Bundesliga titles, seven German Cups, the Champions League, the FIFA World Club Cup and now the international honour of the World Cup.
It was in 2009 when the midfielder claimed: "I'd rather finish with 90 caps and win the World Cup or the European Championship than end up as the most-capped player without winning any major prize."
He now has 108 caps and the coveted gold trophy and is now 42 appearances short of Lothar Matthäus’ record of 150. The famous Bayern midfielder played for his country until he was 38 - that gives the current Bayern legend nine more years, in fact two more World Cups, to surpass that feat.
Statistics aside, Schweinsteiger has built up a reputation as a midfield warrior, a gladiator of the Allianz Arena and a conductor of the German machine. During the 2002/03 season, Ottmar Hitzfeld gave the young ‘Schweini’, his first start in the Munich first team against RC Lens in the Champions League.
It was on the European stage that he showed that he had the talent and the mindset to become one of the country’s most influential players. He immediately found his way into the box before crossing the ball, leading Bayern’s third goal of that evening. Twelve years on and ‘the Brain’ - as he is considered by Germany National team coach Joachim Low - has now featured over 300 times for Bayern Munich.
So as the final continued into extra time, it was believed that this was Lionel Messi’s moment to join Diego Maradona as a legend with international glory being the only thing separating him from the footballing elite.
Schweinsteiger was on a yellow card and with the game on a knife edge, it was believed that the number seven would be a lot more cautious when extinguishing the Argentine attack. But no, as Philipp Lahm’s right-hand man, it was Schweinsteiger who kept the array of Latin striking talent at bay as he put his body on the line to prevent them from making chances on the break.
As Low looked to Mario Gotze to come on and take the match, Schweinsteiger orchestrated the German offensive, creating space and spreading the ball out to the flanks to initiate the next attack.
As his teammates came over to check that their major had survived another bruising, the whistle blew and the German engaged in celebrations as his side became the first European side to win the World Cup in South America.
Messi may have walked off holding the Golden Ball, but Schweinsteiger will forever have his name engraved with his fellow countrymen and the certified club of World Champions – something that takes more than skill to achieve.
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