Friday 29 July 2016, 10:40

Schweinsteiger calls time on Germany career

Bastian Schweinsteiger has notified coach Joachim Low that he no longer wishes to be considered for future selection in the German national team. Germany’s captain made a total of 120 appearances for the reigning world champions.

"Jogi Low knew how much EURO 2016 in France meant to me," said the 31-year-old Manchester United midfielder. “I desperately wanted to win this title as we haven’t been able to bring the trophy back to Germany since 1996, but it wasn’t to be and I have to accept that. in winning the World Cup in 2014, we achieved something historic, and something very emotional that will never again be repeated in my career. Therefore the right and sensible thing to do is to hang up my boots and wish the team the very best in qualifying for the World Cup in 2018."

Schweinsteiger joined FC Bayern Munich at the age of 13, graduating to the first team in 2002 and making his senior debut in the UEFA Champions League in November of that year. With the Bavarians he won more Bundesliga titles (eight) and DFB Cups (seven) than any other player, while he also lifted the 2013 UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup. In the summer of 2015 he transferred to Manchester United, where he helped the club win its first FA Cup since 2004.

A star of the ‘summer fairy tale’The Kolbermoor native’s first taste of international action came shortly before UEFA EURO 2004 in a 2-0 home defeat to Hungary. He impressed enough to be named in the final tournament squad in Portugal, where he featured in all three group games. Two years later, when Germany hosted the FIFA World Cup™, he was then one of the national team’s leading figures and played a starring role in Germany’s ‘summer fairy tale’, despite still being used as a right-sided midfielder.

He started all but one of Germany’s seven games, coming on as a substitute in the semi-final as eventual champions Italy beat the hosts in extra time. In the third-place play-off against Portugal, Schweinsteiger netted twice and set up Petit’s own goal in the 3-1 victory, feats that earned him the official Man of the Match award.

By now one of the first names on the Germany team sheet, Schweinsteiger endured further near misses at EURO 2008 (lost in the final to Spain) and EURO 2012 (lost again in the semi-final to Italy). Yet it was on the biggest stage of all that he delivered his greatest performances for his country. Moved into central midfield by then-Bayern coach Lois van Gaal at the start of the 2009/10 season, he developed into one of the world’s best defensive midfielders and a truly world-class player for both club and country.

Ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, the potential of Germany’s young and relatively inexperienced squad was hard to gauge. However, with Schweinsteiger as its anchor, the team lit up the tournament with some breath-taking football, culminating in hugely impressive victories against England (4-1) and Argentina (4-0). Nevertheless, Spain once again proved too good for Die Nationalmannschaft, knocking them out in the last four (1-0).

Zenith in RioAs he mentioned in his retirement statement, Schweinsteiger would finally achieve the high point of his career at international level four years later. A more mature and well-rounded outfit by the beginning of the 2014 World Cup Brazil, Germany stormed into the final thanks to one of the most significant results in footballing history: a 7-1 hammering of the hosts in the semi-final.

Against Argentina, Low’s men were then inspired by one of Schweinsteiger’s single greatest career performances, eventually prevailing 1-0 in extra time and securing a fourth FIFA World Cup. Following the tournament, Schweinsteiger took over the captaincy from Philipp Lahm and helped his country qualify for EURO 2016, where he scored the last of his 24 international goals against Ukraine and won his 120th and final cap in the 2-0 semi-final defeat to host nation France.

Schweinsteiger retires as Germany’s fourth-most capped player, behind Lothar Matthaus (150), Miroslav Klose (137) and his long-time national team colleague Lukas Podolski (129). In qualifying action for Russia 2018, Germany will be shorn of a true leader as they take on Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Norway, Azerbaijan and San Marino in Group C. Moreover, Low must now appoint a new captain to lead the team out at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia in summer 2017. Schweinsteiger’s retirement may leave a big hole indeed.