Lahm: We want the double
Philipp Lahm is a one-club man. For 16 years the reliable full-back has been plying his trade with Bayern Munich, save for a couple of seasons on loan at Stuttgart between 2003 and 2005, and has firmly established himself as one of the finest defenders in the world game.
The Germany captain has already celebrated a number of major successes with his hometown club, including three domestic doubles consisting. In 2010, he was an integral part of the Bayern side which reached the UEFA Champions League final, where they were ultimately beaten by Jose Mourinho's all-conquering Inter Milan.
However, a trophyless 2010/11 campaign has left Germany's most successful club even hungrier for titles next term, as Lahm told FIFA.com in the second part of an exclusive interview. The 27-year-old also spoke about newly-appointed Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, his favourite position and his social engagements in Africa and Germany.
FIFA.com: Philipp, you've been with Bayern since 1995. What is the main reason behind your loyalty to the club?
Philipp Lahm: I'm very happy in Munich, that's why I extended my contract for a further five years [until June 2016]. I've got a good future here, both domestically and internationally, so for me no other club comes close.
Jupp Heynckes is set to take over the reins at Bayern after the summer break. What are you expecting from the new man in charge?
I'm looking forward to working with Jupp Heynckes. He's an experienced coach who knows how to balance defence and attack, which is important because we conceded too many goals last season. We need to improve our attitude defensively. We've got so much quality in attack that we can always score goals, but they don't say 'Defences win championships' for nothing. That's the mission for Jupp Heynckes and I have no doubts he'll get the job done.
Bayern have already brought in three new faces for the new season in Manuel Neuer, Rafinha and Nils Petersen. Are you expecting further reinforcements before the end of the summer?
There's no question that we need to strengthen the squad, that much is obvious. As a top club we need to keep on developing and bringing in new players. You see it at other top clubs, and Bayern will be no different this year.
What are your targets for 2011/12 following a season without any trophies?
With the quality we have in our squad, the goal is always to win the double and to get beyond the last 16 of the Champions League. The problem this year was that we had trouble finding our rhythm after the World Cup because a lot of the players were involved with their national teams and didn't get much holiday. It wasn't easy.
Nonetheless you managed to remain an ever-present in the Bayern defence throughout another marathon season. How do you stay so fit?
I struggled at the start of the season, both physically and mentally. To play that many games, you have to stay free of injuries and take care of your body. You also need plenty of sleep, and I get more of that than most players [laughs].
You've long been considered one of the best left-backs in the world, yet suddenly you switched to the right at the start of last season. Where do you see your future?
I can perform at my best on either side. I said back then that I'm better on the right because I cope better defensively. Some people have said that I'm more spectacular on the left, but spectacular doesn't necessarily mean better. I don't mind where I play, but it is important to me to play in the same position throughout the season. I wouldn't want to be switching back and forth all the time.
As captain of Bayern you're constantly in the media spotlight. How do you deal with it?
You have to think about how much of your life you want to share with the public. I've always maintained my private sphere and I always will, but fans do have the right to know what we players get up to away from the pitch. I think I've found a good mix. You need to have a good rapport with the fans because they play an important role for both the club and the national team.
You've also taken on further responsibilities away from the pitch by involving yourself in various social projects. Tell us a little about the Philipp Lahm Summer Camps and the Philipp Lahm Foundation.
In 2007, I was in South Africa to get to know the country and the continent. While I was there I saw a lot of pain and suffering, so I decided to start my own foundation to help out. I wanted to share a bit of my good fortune with the people there, although my biggest project is here in Germany. The summer camps in Munich and Berlin are aimed at children and young people. We try to contribute so that these kids can look forward to a brighter future through football and education.