Bastian Schweinsteiger has long since shed the tag of the up-and-coming star of German football. Having rediscovered his best form just in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, the 25-year-old is out to prove that, despite moving position, he still belongs among the world elite. The Bayern Munich man switched from the left wing to a central role last season and Germany coach Joachim Low looks likely to keep him in his new midfield slot.
The Bavaria-born player appears destined to become Germany’s next playmaker. ‘Schweini’, as he is known affectionately, has all the right qualities to pull the strings of the three-time world champions and step into Ballack’s boots over the next few years. Technically gifted, he has an outstanding footballing brain and with more than 70 international appearances is already highly experienced. In recent months, Schweinsteiger has also dramatically improved his tackling, and having proven his midfield mettle alongside Mark van Bommel for Bayern, the 1.83m player is eager to do likewise in a German shirt.
Schweinsteiger joined Bayern as a 14-year-old and has made it his home. His full debut in November 2002 heralded a career blessed with numerous domestic titles inside his first few seasons, and in which he has became one of the few home-grown players to hold onto a first-team shirt with the record German championship winners. If he earned something of a reputation for lacking the right attitude in the early years of his senior career, Schweinsteiger has long since matured into a top performer for the Munich club.
His international debut came in June 2004 in a 2-0 friendly defeat to Hungary in Kaiserslautern. Just four years later in May 2008, he was making his 50th senior appearance for Germany aged 23, writing himself into the history books of the German Football Association (DFB). His breakthrough on the international stage came at the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup on home soil as he and Lukas Podolski stole the hearts of German fans with their outstanding performances and cavalier style. A year later at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, he was a creative force for then German coach Jurgen Klinsmann on the left wing and took the headlines in the match for third place against Portugal, scoring twice and setting up the third goal in a 3-1 victory.
Since then, Schweinsteiger has struggled to constantly live up to expectations. However, he was the matchwinner against Portugal again in the quarter-finals of UEFA EURO 2008, this time scoring once and creating the other two goals as Germany triumphed 3-2. And what was the most challenging phase of his career on the pitch must now be considered the most important, with the process of overcoming adversity instrumental in his new maturity. Now in his new role, he is more pivotal than ever before, something he will want to prove for posterity in South Africa.