Germany Lose Captain Philipp Lahm to International Retirement

German World Cup winning-captain Philipp Lahm has announced his retirement from international duty with immediate effect. At the age of 30, Lahm will be leaving the national scene on a high after contributing much to manager Joachim Löw’s eight-year plan for success; his last hurrah was to lift the golden trophy aloft while his nation celebrated their victory over Argentina to claim the biggest prize in football. Not a bad way to say goodbye really.

His departure will be a massive blow for Germany, with the Bayern Munich star having been a fixture in the team ever since making his international debut in 2004 and earning 113 caps for his country since then.

After impressive versatile performances, whether it be at left-back, right-back or in the heart of the midfield, he has given his all for the shirt. He inherited the captain’s armband from Michael Ballack in 2010, where Lahm suffered much criticism. Many fans believed he was not up to the job, questioning his leadership qualities and arrogant attitude. Over time though, he became a leader, proving his doubters wrong in a quiet and confident manner.

Throughout this summer’s tournament in Brazil, he proved himself not only to be one of the most tactically intelligent and diverse players on the planet, but also a worthy leader.

Despite leaving on a high, there are also footballing reasons to step down. At 30, he may be forgiven for losing that yard of pace which is key to the marauding runs up and down the right flank that he used to effortlessly.

This summer’s tournament saw a tactical change in Germany’s approach. Lahm was placed into a defensive midfield role, which has been less successful. He eventually reverted back to his native right-back position later in the competition.

Lahm received much praise from his teammates and big names in football such as Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and FIFA President Sepp Blatter. Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel commented in the wake of Lahm’s retirement decision, stating, “I would like to articulate my huge respect for Philipp Lahm and what he has done for our national team.”

The right-back will focus his full attention on his club side. After a short holiday he will return to continue to play for Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. Bayern boss Pep Guardiola rates him highly, recently rewarding his services with a contract until the summer of 2018.

Since January 2012, Lahm took over the captain’s armband, leading Bayern into a successful period at the Allianz Arena. The club won the Bundesliga title five times and the German Cup five times, as well as a Champions League triumph in 2013.

Germany and Löw may struggle to replace such a player of his defensive and versatile quality; he will leave a gap as a leader and player, ultimately being remembered as one of Germany’s greatest ever captains in a golden generation.