Germany's largely young 2010 FIFA World Cup™ squad can get over their 1-0 semi-final defeat by European champions Spain and emulate their success in the future, captain Philipp Lahm said on Thursday.
The 26-year-old, who has been an inspirational captain in the absence of the injured Michael Ballack, added that one day he expected he would be holding a trophy aloft and assuaging the pain of being part of teams that had lost two successive World Cup semi-finals and the Euro 2008 final - 1-0 to Spain.
"I am a little surprised by the margins of victory against England (4-1) and Argentina (4-0)," said the 71-times capped Bayern Munich fullback. "But I have been training with these guys for a long time, and I knew what they were capable of. We were able to believe in our future. Spain proved that there is always room for improvement. Three to four weeks ago, they had the same players, and then they gained in confidence. We too can do similar things."
One day, I am convinced that we will be up there with the best. And then also to lose a semi-final is not a mark of dishonour, that doesn't happen every day either.
Lahm, who repeated that he would not voluntarily hand back the captaincy to 33-year-old Ballack and would do so only if the coach instructed him to, admitted the defeat had been tough - he was reduced to floods of tears at the final whistle - but the Germans had still achieved more than other European heavyweights.
"I am 26 and therefore I have some years of football at this level in front of me," said Lahm. "There will be other semi-finals. But it is true, it will never be easy to think back on [the defeat]. But thereagain look, Italy and France were knocked out really quickly. One day, I am convinced that we will be up there with the best. And then also to lose a semi-final is not a mark of dishonour, that doesn't happen every day either."
He also revealed that the Germans had declined an offer of a 'victory' parade back in Berlin when they return unlike those that happened after the 2006 semi-final loss at home and the Euro 2008 final defeat. Lahm, who says he has changed his mind and would play in the third place match with Uruguay in Port Elizabeth on Saturday if he has recovered from a knock, said he saw Wednesday's victors Spain adding the world title to their European crown. "I see Spain winning it," he said. "But if not I will be happy to see my clubmates [Mark van Bommel and Arjen Robben] return to Bayern with the trophy. The trophy would give us a 'boost' at Bayern."