Lothar Herbert Matthaus, to give the former Germany international his full appellation, was born in the Bavarian town of Erlangen in March of 1961. His football success story began at the age of just nine, and is still being written today.
It was in the tranquil town of Herzogenaurach, where the sports manufacturer adidas is headquartered, that 'Loddar', as he is known by the German tabloid press, first joined the local football club of the same name. Few would have guessed at the time that the ambitious young talent would go on to become one of the best players of his generation. Even the man himself was not entirely convinced. Despite his burgeoning talent on the pitch, the teenage Matthaus completed an apprenticeship in interior decoration after leaving school, though it quickly became apparent that his true calling was the beautiful game.
First professional contract
Matthaus was first called up to the West Germany U-21 squad at the age of 18, with hindsight an important milestone in his career that placed him in the shop window for a host of professional clubs. In the summer of 1979, the impressive young midfielder signed for Borussia Monchengladbach, one of that decade's most successful clubs.
Matthaus, always a confident character, refused to be overawed by the big names surrounding him and impressed then-coach Jupp Heynckes from the start. The Bavarian soon became one of the first names on the Foals' team sheet, leading the Lower Rhine club into the UEFA Cup final in his first season, though they were eventually defeated by fellow German outfit Eintracht Frankfurt.
His consistently good performances at club level saw the dynamic youngster picked for the Germany squad for the 1980 UEFA European Championship in Italy, where he made his senior international debut in a 3-2 win over the Netherlands. As an unused substitute, Matthaus would celebrate his first major title with Die Mannschaft after victory in the final against Belgium, but his finest hour in a German shirt was still ten years away.
In the following seasons Matthaus established himself as a key performer for both Gladbach and the national team, and although trophies at domestic level were hard to come by, he was a fixture in coach Jupp Derwall's Germany teams.
Again part of the team which travelled to the 1982 FIFA World Cup™ in Spain, Matthaus had to make do with a bit part role with Paul Breitner ahead of him in the pecking order, just as Bernd Schuster had been two years earlier.
Matthaus' real heyday began in 1984 and coincided with a move to Bundesliga heavyweights Bayern Munich. Under the tutelage of legendary coach Udo Lattek, he finally made the attacking midfield role his own and led the Bavarian giants to the title in his first season at the club. The young man from Erlangen grew in stature with every passing season, becoming one of the world's most sought-after players as he clinched the double in his second season at the Olympiastadion.
The same year, Matthaus travelled to Mexico 1986 as one of the key members of Franz Beckenbauer's Germany squad, playing a vital role in midfield alongside Felix Magath as the Germans reached the Final. The journey ended there, however, with Argentina running out 3-2 winners and consigning the Europeans to a second successive defeat in the ultimate match.
Named an honorary captain of the German national team in 2001, Matthaus was first given his country's armband in 1987. Beckenbauer placed his full faith in Matthaus, and he was repaid handsomely with yet more top class performances.
Success in Italy
After winning his third Bundesliga title with Bayern in 1987, the 1.74m No10 revealed his intention to join Italian club Inter Milan. With the experienced Giovanni Trappatoni at the helm, it was here that Matthaus developed into an international superstar in what was at the time the best league in the world. True to form, Matthaus won the Scudetto in his first season, but it was one year later that the German icon's greatest moment finally arrived.
At the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy, the energetic playmaker captained his team to the title in spectacular fashion and was subsequently honoured with the German Footballer of the Year, European Footballer of the Year and World Footballer of the Year awards. One year later, he became the first-ever recipient of the FIFA World Player award.
Following a long absence due to a cruciate ligament tear, Matthaus rejoined Bayern in 1992, celebrating his Bundesliga return in September of the same year. In line with his diminishing pace and increasing experience, his role in the team changed from attacking midfield to libero at both club and international level. Under his old mentor Beckenbauer, the new master at the heart of the Bayern defence celebrated yet another championship in 1994, though he suffered disappointment that summer at USA 1994 as Germany crashed out at the quarter-final stage to surprise package Bulgaria.
Matthaus' injury troubles continued to shadow him throughout the following year with an Achilles tendon tear keeping him out of action for several months in 1995, leading to many experts predicting a premature end to his illustrious career. They could not have been wider of the mark.
Iron will and last days
Thanks to his consummate discipline and will to win, the German star eventually recaptured his old form and played a major role in Bayern's UEFA Cup triumph in 1996. Matthaus was to miss Germany's triumph at EURO 1996 in England after a difference of opinion with then coach Berti Vogts, but two years later, the current Azerbaijan boss recalled the veteran star for France 1998 at the ripe old age of 37. After setting a new record of 25 FIFA World Cup appearances, Matthaus' final bow on the biggest stage came in a 3-0 quarter-final defeat to Croatia.
His last major international tournament ended in disappointment at EURO 2000 in Belgium and the Netherlands, where the Germans failed to reach the knockout stages. A 3-0 defeat to Portugal in their final group game brought an unceremonious denouement to Matthaus' 20-year career in the national team, with whom he amassed a record 150 caps and took part in five FIFA World Cups. In September 2000, Matthaus finally hung up his boots after a brief stint in the USA with the NY/NJ Metro Stars.
New challenge on the touchline
Matthaus' first tried his hand at coaching in the 2001/02 season with Austrian club Rapid Vienna, before taking charge at Partizan Belgrade at the end of the season. After winning the championship with the Serbian side and leading them into the UEFA Champions League, Matthaus was offered his first managerial post at international level with Hungary, though failure to qualify for Germany 2006 meant his contract was not renewed.
A short-lived spell at the helm of Brazilian club Atletico Paranaense followed, but Matthaus soon returned to Europe to work as former boss Trappatoni's assistant at Red Bull Salzburg. His most recent coaching role was with Maccabi Netanya, but after leaving the Israeli outfit at the end of the 2008/09 season, the German legend is now waiting for the right opportunity to return to the game.
Five FIFA World Cup™ tournaments (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994 and 1998)
FIFA World Cup winner in 1990
FIFA World Cup runner-up in 1982 and 1986
UEFA European Championship winner in 1980
Bundesliga: 1984/85, 1985/86, 1986/87, 1993/94, 1996/97, 1998/99 and 1999/2000
Serie A: 1988/89
German Cup: 1985/86 and 1997/98
UEFA Cup: 1990/91 and 1995/96
1979-1984: Borussia Monchengladbach
1984-1988: Bayern Munich
1988-1992: Inter Milan
1992-2000: Bayern Munich
2000: NY/NJ Metro Stars
World Footballer of the Year: 1990
FIFA World Player: 1991
European Footballer of the Year: 1990
German Footballer of the Year: 1990 and 1999
Captain of the German national team
The German legend became the first recipient of the FIFA World Player award in 1991 whilst at Inter Milan.
'Loddar', as Matthaus is known in the tabloid press, has been married four times. His current wife is 26 years his junior.
The Erlangen-born former star completed an apprenticeship as an interior decorator before becoming a professional footballer.
Matthaus is one of just two players who have taken part in five FIFA World Cup™ tournaments. The only other player to achieve the same feat is former Mexico goalkeeper Antonio Carbajal.
Lothar Matthaus made 150 international appearances for Germany, making him the three-time FIFA World Cup™ winners' record caps holder.