Former World Cup winning coach, Franz Beckenbauer has heaped criticism on Philipp Lahm’s decision to retire from international football, by suggesting that he is still needed by Germany.
The 30-year-old announced his retirement from the international game on Friday, five days after guiding Germany to a fourth World Cup trophy in Brazil.
Lahm won his first cap in a friendly 2-1 win against Croatia in February 2004, before going on to make a further 112 appearances for the National Eleven.
Despite a slow start to his international career by living in the shadows of players such as Jens Nowotny, and Christian Wörns, Lahm quickly cemented his place as a first team player.
The highly regarded Bayern Munich playmaker, who can play across the defensive spectrum in both flanks, as well as in midfield, represented Germany in six tournaments and was made captain in the weeks leading up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Breath of fresh air
His appointment as captain acted as a breath of fresh air to a stale Germany side who were on the back-foot after several years of near misses at international tournaments, and ensured their development as world beaters.
With Germany now entering a period perceived to be lined with dominance, Lahm has somewhat surprisingly decided to call time on his international career to focus on everything Bayern Munich, leaving behind a side who look rather troubled without his involvement.
Beckenbauer, often described as the best defender to have ever represented Germany has played down reports that Lahm was right to bow out after winning the World Cup in his last game, by suggesting that the decision was a strange one.
He told reporters: “I would have understood it by many, but not Philipp Lahm. At 30 years of age, he is still desperately needed. He is the one who can divide the forces, no matter what position he plays in.”
The Kaiser, who lifted the World Cup for West Germany in 1974 as a 29 year old, one year younger than Lahm is now, went on to represent the national side for three more years before hanging up his boots in 1977.
After guiding West Germany to glory against the Netherlands on home soil, the Eagles went on to reach the 1976 European final, ultimately losing to Czecholslavika on penalties, with Beckenbauer believing that Lahm could have had another shot of international success.
No natural successor
However, with Lahm no longer in Joachim Löw’s ranks, the 68 former Bayern Munich manager feels that the current Germany squad are missing a natural born leader and could struggle to find a suitable replacement in time for the Euro 2016 finals in France.
He said: “He has become World Champion, but that is no reason for him to hang up his boots. The team badly needs him, he is the leader. In any case he is going to be hard to replace.”