Football

Philipp Lahm: A tribute to the silent assassin

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I wonder how many German nationals woke up to make a piping hot mug of coffee, before either tuning into their favourite radio station or scrolling down their Twitter feed.

Quite a few I can imagine, and I can vouch that almost half of these people spat out their blistering beverage when the news filtered out that Philipp Lahm had announced his retirement from international football, days after leading Germany to World Cup glory in Brazil.

Being a German national myself, I probably went through the exact same process as every other fellow countryman did at around 9:30 this morning.

A shock decision

As soon as the news caught fire on Twitter, I thought it must have been a joke, or even news regarding his decision to announce his retirement from international football after attempting to lead Germany to European glory in France in two years’ time.

It think it is fairly accurate to suggest that even the most strident critics of Lahm, and believe me they are out there, couldn't believe what they were hearing and seeing with their own senses.

Just five days after seeing their country win their fourth World Cup title, it is obvious to suggest that the whole of “Deutsche Fussball” is in mourning.

If the term “anti-climax” is anything to go by, then this is a catastrophe as far as post-World Cup celebrations are concerned.

Media frenzy

Over the past few days, both national and regional German newspapers were swimming in their teams’ South American exploits, with nearly every single page mentioning covering something to do with the national outfit.

From what they are doing on their holiday, to features on WAGS, to hairstyles, to pages littered with slogans such as “we will do it again.”

Today is a different day altogether, and if you were to look on Bild.de they seem to highlight the severity of the 30 year olds decision to step down not only as team captain, but also from international football completely after winning 113 caps in just over ten years.

The main headline in the sport columns on the day of the announcement reads "Lahm retires as captain, read all about it.”

As far as German football is concerned this is breaking news of the highest rank.

It is not every day that you win your fourth World Cup, become the highest ranked team in international football then see your captain step down in the most peculiar of circumstances.

In some sort of weird way, perhaps this how the Munich born right-back wanted it to go, to go out on a high when Germany once again ruled football.

The 30-year-old, who has started each and every single 113 cap for Germany, said that he came to the decision to call it day during the previous campaign, even if the National Eleven were going to be eliminated from the group stage, his mind would have still been made up.

For the past 10 years as a national player, and for the past four years as captain, he has given his all into ensuring that Germany would awake from their slumber and once again dominate the world in the same way that they did during the time of Franz Beckenabuer and Gerd Muller in the 1970’s.

Outclassed Messi & Mascherano

The 30-year-old was a class apart from everyone else at the World Cup even above the likes of James Rodriguez, Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano, as he swallowed every single ounce of pressure from within Germany and around the world to win the biggest prize in football.

His importance showed for Joachim Löw’s side during the World Cup, as he was moved from his preferred central midfield position back to his typical Right-Back role for the 1-0 victory against France in the quarter-finals, which gave the rest of his team the confidence to push on.

Perhaps, this is why German football is in a state of utter paralysis today, no one can simply imagine life without Lahm strutting his stuff in the national team.

Although he often lived in the shadow of former captain Michael Ballack and other influential Germany internationals such as Bernd Schneider and Miroslav Klose, the plucky defender is one of the reasons why the National Eleven are the powerhouse they are today.

The silent assassin

Indeed, he went about his work quietly until 2010 when he pounced on his opportunity to become Germany’s messiah when Ballack was ruled out of South Africa with a foot injury.

2010 was coincidently the same year when Germany became a team again, with Lahm guiding the National Eleven’s youngest team in over thirty years to a third-place finish.

Although he was criticised for his role in exiling Ballack from the national team by stating that he had no intention in returning the captain’s armband, it goes without saying that the national team became a breeding ground for optimism, success and team-work.

Without Lahm at the helm it is unlikely that Germany would have reached where they have got to today with his both his team-mates, and heads of states reaction emphasising this.

Pretty much every single member of the World Cup winning Germany squad publicly came out on twitter and their Facebook sites by emphasising their sadness over the Bayern Munich defenders decision to step down, whilst also praising Lahm to the highest extent.

Even the German chancellor, Angel Merkel came out to say how proud she was of him for everything that he had achieved during his ten year spell as a national player, and how the whole country should appreciate what he stood for, a legend.

Indeed, Lahm will also achieve recognition over the next few days for his unselfishness to allow the further integration of youth into the national side as Germany prepare to win their fourth European title in France in 2016 by stepping down.

It goes without saying that Lahm will be missed in every single possible way, and at this moment in time no-one knows how Germany will cope without having his wealth of experience and skill at the back.

Although this is something which will be digested in the next few days when fans start to rumble on about who should replace him, and how Löw should alter his team into ensuring that their world domination is not as short lived as Germany’s post-World Cup celebrations.

For the time being at least we should all remember that a player like Lahm will only come once every blue moon, but chins up folks, although he has stepped down from the national team, he has recently signed a contract extension at Bayern Munich until 2018.

Perhaps it is also refreshing to know that he might yet get better in his position as his sole concentration is directed towards helping Bayern, so sit back and relax, he might yet again surprise us.

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Topics:
Bayern Munich
Bundesliga
Germany Football
World Cup
Football

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