Philipp Lahm will never forget watching Lothar Matthäus lift the FIFA World Cup™ with West Germany at Italy 1990. Twenty-four years later, it was Lahm’s turn to do the same in the iconic Maracana Stadium as Germany defeated Argentina 1-0 in 2014. Same team, same scoreline, same result – Germany crowned world champions.
Speaking exclusively to www.sc.qa during Bayern Munich’s recent winter training camp in Doha, the Bayern Munich star reflected on the tournament that helped inspire him to become a FIFA World Cup™ winner.
“The first tournament I followed on TV was in 1990,” Lahm said. “I was just over six years old and Germany by chance also became world champions. It was a very nice experience for me and one I think back to fondly. The games were outstanding and there were great characters in the German team, led by coach Franz Beckenbauer – the Kaiser.”
Lahm has been a key player for 2015 FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football nominee Pep Guardiola, who leaves Bayern at the end of this season after three years in Bavaria. The player widely regarded as one of the best full-backs in the game expressed sadness at the prospect of the Spaniard leaving, yet looked forward to working with another top coach in Carlo Ancelotti.
“I have had a lot of top coaches, from Germany like [Ottmar] Hitzfeld, [Felix] Magath, [Jupp] Heynckes, and international greats like [Louis] Van Gaal, Pep Guardiola now and then another one coming in Carlo Ancelotti, who has won the Champions League on a number of occasions. So I definitely look forward to that, but on the other hand I have had and still have a very good time with Pep. We understand each other well and it is enjoyable to play under him. But I have been playing since I was six and players and coaches come and go, so it is a natural part of the way things go and you accept and respect these decisions.”
Our aim is always to go for the maximum and get all three titles, but we know how difficult that is.
Lahm added that Bayern Munich will be looking to give Guardiola the perfect send off this summer, but pointed out that the treble was a difficult undertaking which has only been achieved once by a German side.
“The aim is to play successful football,” he said. “For us that means that there should be titles at the end of the season. Anyone who knows Bayern and our history as well as our recent seasons know we can play for the title in all competitions and win them. Our aim is always to go for the maximum and get all three titles, but we know how difficult that is.”
Agonising wait for the whistle
Lahm and his Germany team-mates certainly pushed themselves to the maximum, to attain world football’s ultimate prize in Brazil. The Bayern schemer fondly remembers those last seconds in the Maracana, even if they were excruciating at the time.
“I have been playing and watching football for such a long time and anything can happen in the final moments, so you really yearn for the final whistle,” Lahm said of the 2014 World Cup Final against Argentina. “Leading 1-0 in the final in extra time, you just want him to blow the whistle. It was incredible relief when it was over, you let everything pass by that has happened with the national team over the past years, the bitter defeats. The two hours after the final whistle is the wonderful moment you share with colleagues and staff who have gone the journey with you for the past ten years, that is unforgettable.”
The former Germany captain also looked forward to Qatar as a host nation, highlighting that sport has the power to unite people from different corners of the world.
“When we train here there is always a lot of interest from the fans which is something nice,” he said. “Football lives from the fans and from people coming together, and that is the most important thing – football unites the whole world. This is the positive power that the sport has, and I hope it will be the same at the World Cup in Qatar in 2022. People will come together, have a nice festival, and I think this is what football can do.”