Dear fans of Die Mannschaft,
Game won, mission accomplished, tickets booked – France, here we come! I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you on behalf of the whole team to all of our incredible fans. For your support, the belief you showed in us, and also for their understanding. In the first few games after the World Cup in Brazil, the results were not what we wanted. However we could always feel the trust you had in us, and there was never any doubt in my mind that we would justify this trust. We found our feet as a team and today we can look back and say we had a successful qualifying campaign.
Now we turn our attention to France, to the next big challenge. Quite soon after our victory in Rio I felt the motivation for the next tournament, and I realised how much it means to me to be successful at the Euros. I knew straight away that my journey with this team was not over yet. I’m very grateful for Joachim Löw giving me the honour of being team captain. It’s a sensational feeling every time to walk out onto the pitch wearing the armband for Germany.
I can hardly wait to lead the team through the tournament in France as captain this summer. I am sure the hosts will put on a huge football festival. The stage is set: France have fantastic stadia, France have fantastic fans, France have fantastic footballers, and the French are a ‘Grande Nation’ in football. Alongside qualification for the European Championship, we were able to experience the warm-heartedness and hospitality of the French. It has been no different on my private trips to France. France will be a superb host for these Euros.
One of the many positive associations I have with France is the memory of the World Cup 2014 quarter final. Pardon, France – I’m sorry. The game in Rio was a milestone in our road to the title, but it also showed how strong the Equipe tricolore are. I was impressed with the mentality that France showed throughout the 90 minutes, and just as much after full time. Despite the obvious disappointment of losing and going out, they never lost their respect. Their conduct in Rio was a true example of decency and fair play. Hats off to them!
But that’s all in the past. It’s now all about the future; it’s now all about France 2016. In 245 days the European Championship will be under way, meaning it’s 275 days until the final. As World Champions, we can set ourselves the highest targets. Our ambition is to be in that final. I can also say: we want the next title. Since Rio we’ve been proudly carrying the fourth star on our kits. 1972, 1980 and 1996 – so far, three is the magic number for Germany in Europe. Now we want more. I’m sure we can achieve a lot along with you, the fans. Support us! Give us wind in our sails! You carried us to the tournament, now we want to go to France and experience another summer like the one in Brazil with you!