Bastian Schweinsteiger has won everything there is to win at club level with FC Bayern München but, after becoming Germany's 12th centurion in the 5-3 victory away to Sweden last night, he says his national-team ambitions are unfulfilled.
Bayern's midfield engine finally put to bed the "unfinished business of a generation" with May's UEFA Champions League triumph over Borussia Dortmund. Yet alongside the treasure trove of winners' medals accrued over a fruitful career – six Bundesliga, six German Cup, two German Super Cup, one UEFA Super Cup and now European club football's biggest prize of all – the international section of his trophy cabinet remains bare.
He has come close, twice finishing third at the FIFA World Cup and being edged out by Spain in the UEFA EURO 2008 final – yet not close enough. Brazil next summer represents a real opportunity for Germany, with Schweinsteiger set to be key to their challenge. As Joachim Löw's men had clinched their finals place before Tuesday's concluding Group C qualifier against the Swedes in Solna, the midfielder could afford to ease off and simply enjoy his 100th appearance – had he wanted to, that is.
Since earning his first cap under Rudi Völler as a 19-year-old in 2004, in a 2-0 loss to Hungary, Schweinsteiger has played across the midfield but his tenacity has been constant. A born leader and "world-class footballer and person" according to Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer, he would have attained the 100-cap milestone much sooner, and perhaps exceeded his 23 goals, but for injury.
Coach Jupp Heynckes, the man who guided Bayern to glory last season, hails the Bavarian as "one of the three best midfielders in German football history". Uli Hoeness once said he wanted to bring him out of his comfort zone and according to Löw, the mature Schweinsteiger is only too happy with that scenario, "as a leader who puts the success of the team as his primary focus while his personal ambitions take a back seat".
Schweinsteiger says his century is "an honour" but stresses that it is just a stop-off on the way to his ultimate destination. "I still have a lot I want to achieve. I've only just turned 29, not 36, and that's a very good footballing age. I have won the Champions League with Bayern. Now I want to achieve great things with the national side."
Lothar Matthäus – 150 games, 23 goals (1980–2000)
Miroslav Klose – 130, 68 (2001–)
Lukas Podolski – 111, 46 (2004–)
Jürgen Klinsmann – 108, 47 (1987–1998)
Jürgen Kohler – 105, 2 (1986–1998)
Franz Beckenbauer – 103, 14 (1965–1977)
Philipp Lahm – 103, 5 (2004–)
Joachim Streich* – 102, 55 (1969–1984)
Thomas Hässler – 101, 11 (1988–2000)
Hans-Jürgen Dörner* – 100, 8 (1969–1985)
Ulf Kirsten* – 100, 35 (1985–2000)
Bastian Schweinsteiger – 100, 23 (2004–)
*represented East Germany
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