A small man with a big role and reputation, Philipp Lahm rates as one of the most consistent performers in the Germany squad. A revelation at left-back in the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ on home soil, he recently underlined his versatility with a fine season as an ever-present on the opposite side of defence for Bayern Munich. His status in the German squad evident as coach Joachim Low appointed Lahm captain following injury to incumbent skipper Michael Ballack.
Lahm embodies all the qualities expected of a full-back in the modern game. Capable of covering prodigious amounts of ground, he is a sound defender, more than comfortable with the ball at his feet, and very much at home as an auxiliary attacker. His low centre of gravity – he stands just 1.70 metres in his socks – makes him a good dribbler, especially when cutting in from the flanks. The Munich-born player is intelligent both off and on the field, where he demonstrates astute tactical awareness and excellent positional play. Whether he ends up on the right or the left, Lahm is a pivotal figure in Joachim Low’s squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Close to footballing maturity as a 26-year-old, Lahm has well over 60 caps to his name. Eager to shoulder responsibility and a model professional in his approach, Lahm ranks as a leader both at Bayern and for Low’s side. There have been few hiccoughs in his textbook career to date. He joined his local club, who just happen to be Germany’s most successful, back in 1995, and never realistically looked like faltering as he made his way through the youth ranks. His senior debut for Bayern came in November 2002, but world-class full-backs Willy Sagnol and Bixente Lizarazu were both ahead of him in the Bayern hierarchy at the time. In summer 2003, he went out on a two-season loan to VfB Stuttgart and rapidly developed into a top-class footballer, slotting comfortably into the Bayern set-up on his return and rattling up a string of domestic cup and league honours.
Lahm earned his maiden international cap in February 2004, a 2-1 friendly win over Croatia in Split. He has been a regular for the three-time world champions ever since. He featured in all three of his country’s games at UEFA EURO 2004 in Portugal, but injury kept him out of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2005. Lahm’s impact on the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals cannot be underestimated: he was the only German player to complete the full 90 minutes of all the host nation’s matches, and even more significantly, bolstered his growing reputation at home and around the world with the opening goal of the tournament, a memorable right-footed curler to hand his side the lead against Costa Rica.
He notched another cracking goal two years later at UEFA EURO 2008 in Austria and Switzerland, blasting a last-minute winner as the Germans scraped a 3-2 semi-final victory over Turkey. After finishing third at the FIFA World Cup and runner-up at the EURO, the player is now determined to go one better and claim global honours in South Africa.