Servus, Basti! As his 121st international appearance approaches, a long career in the national side, which includes seven major tournaments and winning the 2014 World Cup, draws to a close for Bastian Schweinsteiger. Before he puts on the Germany shirt for the last time against Finland on Wednesday in Mönchengladbach, the outgoing captain spoke in his final Germany press conference in Düsseldorf about leaving international football, his international career highlights and the future.
He gave this interview after his final training session in the afternoon. Tears, titles and triumphs – Schweinsteiger shares his thoughts and memories on his twelve years in the national team.
...His last ever international appearance against Finland: I’m pleased to get the opportunity to have a proper send off. It will be emotional, of course. I am incredibly grateful to have been able to play for my country 120 times. The togetherness of the team, the incredible atmosphere at the 2006 and 2014 World Cups, and then being given the captaincy; it’s what you dream about as a kid. I’m really looking forward to the evening.
...Wanting a farewell match: I’m excited to see every single fan, the atmosphere is going to be electric. I’m particularly looking forward to singing the national anthem one last time. I don’t know how many minutes I’ll be able to play since I haven’t had any game time since the Euros. We’ll have to see how long I can last during the game but I hope that I’ll get a few minutes on the pitch. (laughs) And, I don’t know who I’m going to give the captain’s armband to.
...Personal highlights during his time in the national side: There have been so many brilliant moments. One of the best things, and something that has also been a huge motivation for me all these years, is seeing how the fans have shared our joy and supported us. The atmosphere in the fan zone was always very special. And then there was obviously winning the World Cup in Brazil. We’d been getting better and better and then finally got our hands on the trophy. I’ve also really enjoyed being able to make new friends during my time in the national team.###more### ###more###
...His first game for Germany on 6th June 2004: I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was so happy to be given my debut, although we did lose the game 2-0 against Hungary.
...Leaving the national team: I still want to play football, but the time has come for other players to go out onto the pitch for Germany.
...The qualities needed to be captain: First and foremost a captain has to think about the whole team, not just himself. You have to say the right words at the right time and lead by example. I believe we have more than enough players who can fulfil this role.
...Possibly retiring after winning the World Cup: No, that didn’t cross my mind. I really wanted to play in Euro 2016. I asked myself after the Euros and while I was on holiday if I could bring the same passion that I had in Brazil to the 2018 World Cup. This time I had to give myself the honest answer, which was no.
...The current uncertainty in his career: It was also a dream of mine to play for Manchester United and to help them achieve their goals. Of course I’ve spoken with José Mourinho. I know what the interest from Manchester United is, but I also know what I want. I certainly won’t stop playing football. I’m still happy despite the situation.
...Low points of his career: Losing the Champions League Final in Munich in 2012 was a very difficult moment. But it made me more mature and I now know how to deal with these kinds of scenarios. Football is about both highs and lows, it’s just part of the game.
...The increasing burden of football: You have to remember that football is a high performance sport. But other sports also have matches on a very regular basis. It is impossible to always play at your highest level and sometimes it is better to have a one to two day break after a game. People should not forget the work that sportsmen put in to be able to maintain that high level of performance.
...The potential for a different role in the national team after his career: I still see myself as a footballer and want to fully focus on that. As I say, it is my dream to play for Manchester United. I think that I am capable of that; I was a starter in the World Cup winning team and the team that made the semi-finals of the Euros. But I can also see myself going to America. What I’ll do after my career, I don’t know.###more###