UEFA.com's man in Munich runs the rule over Philipp Lahm's remarkable international career by picking five of his most memorable matches in a Germany shirt.
Germany's Philipp Lahm has excelled throughout his career thanks in no small part to his remarkable versatility, consistency and leadership. Following the 30-year-old FIFA World Cup-winning captain's decision to retire from international football, UEFA.com picks out five milestone matches from his 113-cap odyssey.
9 June 2006: Germany 4-2 Costa Rica, FIFA World Cup
Having made his international debut two years earlier, in a 2-1 friendly victory against Croatia, Lahm recovered from a broken metatarsal and a torn cruciate ligament – the only two major injuries in his career – to feature in the opening game at Germany's home World Cup. Already a renowned left-back, he opened the scoring with a brilliant curled effort from the left edge of the box, thus igniting the spark which would lead to what is affectionately known as the 'Summer's tale' in his homeland.
22 August 2007: England 1-2 Germany, friendly
Lahm was first deployed as a holding midfielder by Joachim Löw, who felt that his "outstanding qualities as a footballer" would make him a perfect fit for the role. Furthermore, after Bernd Schneider's substitution during the second half, Lahm took on the armband for the first time and helped the Nationalmannschaft become the first team to win at the new Wembley Stadium. Lahm would return six years later to lift the UEFA Champions League trophy with FC Bayern München.
26 June 2008: Germany 3-2 Turkey, UEFA EURO 2008
History may not remember Lahm as a regular scorer, rather as a consistent performer. However, three of the five international goals by the Munich-born defender were of huge importance for Germany, with the pick no doubt being his last-minute winner in the UEFA EURO 2008 semi-final against Turkey.
After conceding a late equaliser, Germany bounced back through Lahm, who kept cool when one on one with Reçber Rüştü following a neat one-two with Thomas Hitzlsperger. "It is certainly one of the best moments in my career," Lahm said afterwards. "I may have been partially at fault for conceding the equaliser shortly before, but I am glad I could make up for it."
28 June 2012: Germany 1-2 Italy, UEFA EURO 2012
Lahm's international adventures were not short of setbacks and disappointments in big fixtures. Spain – and specifically Fernando Torres, scorer in the Roja's 1-0 victories over Germany in the finals of the 2002 UEFA European Under-19 Championship and UEFA EURO 2008 – and Italy caused the most upset.
Indeed the Azzurri overcame Lahm and Germany in the semi-finals of both their home World Cup and UEFA EURO 2012. Lahm, who also endured the heartbreak of losing a UEFA Champions League final on home soil with Bayern – against Chelsea FC in 2012 – is Germany's record appearance holder at UEFA European Championships with 14 outings.
13 July 2014: Germany 1-0 Argentina (aet), FIFA World Cup
Having begun the tournament as a holding midfielder, a position he had excelled in under Josep Guardiola at Bayern throughout the season, Lahm's superb organisational skills helped him ease back into the right side of defence during the knockout stages. He was at his best in the final triumph against Argentina, showing his great positional awareness and reliable passing one last time in a Germany shirt.
Many big names expressed their admiration for Lahm following his retirement, with Löw leading the way: "Philipp is a role model as a footballer. He can be proud of his career, as he is a great player with heart, passion and personality, who has achieved so much for German football. He has been a world-class player for many years because of his footballing intelligence and versatility. He has always been a central and key reference person for me. Thank you, Philipp!"