Lahm captain, but Schweinsteiger’s boss

German Football
By German Football June 12, 2010 20:18

Lahm captain, but Schweinsteiger’s boss

Germany coach Joachim Loew may have selected Philipp Lahm as captain for the World Cup in place of the injured Michael Ballack, but the real ‘boss’ of the German team is Bastian Schweinsteiger.

In recent months, Schweinsteiger, who starred alongside Lukas Podolski on home soil in Germany’s run to the semis in the last World Cup, has thrown off the reputation he once had of being of a hellraiser.

Since those heady days the pair have gone different ways at club level.

Whereas Podolski was unable to hold down a first team spot at Bayern Munich and left to return home to former side Cologne saying he “just wanted to be happy on the pitch”, Schweinsteiger has in contrast gone from strength to strength at Bayern.

Gone are the constant changes of image – the different hair cuts and the gaudy clothes, as well as the black-painted fingernails.

And he no longer is tempted by extra-curricular activities, such as the time he memorably starred in an advert in which he did a chicken dance.

That kind of thing does not impress Bayern’s tough Dutch coach Louis van Gaal and under his tutelage Schweinsteiger last season buckled down to become a mainstay of the Bayern midfield.

It was a positional move which he said came at “a very important stage of my career and in my personal development.”

“Basti” – he prefers the new nickname – prompty turned in the best season of his career and was rewarded with the league title and German Cup as well as a run to the Champions League final where Inter Milan proved too strong.

Schweinsteiger is now being called to take on more responsibility by Loew in the absence of Ballack in a German side which Lahm has judged as the best one he has been involved with and which has an average age of just 25.

He is now one of the comparative veterans with his 74 caps and 21 goals scored.

He hopes that one day he can have a tilt at the 150 caps national appearance record held by 1990 World Cup winning skipper Lothar Matthaeus.

“I want to take on more responsabilities in this team – I shall demand more of the ball and try to influence our game to a greater extent,” he told reporters as Germany prepared to start their World Cup campaign against Australia.

The confidence that Van Gaal has instilled in him means he is now hoping to lead by example as Germany raise a new generation with the likes of Mesut Oezil, Thomas Mueller and Holger Badstuber bursting through.

Schweinsteiger said: “We can feel that these young players are hungry and have confidence in themselves. They believe they are capable of great things.

“If we combine that with our experience we can really achieve something good.”

German Football
By German Football June 12, 2010 20:18
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