After 129 matches for Germany, Lukas Podolski has announced his retirement from international football after the Euros in France. Poldi no longer playing for Germany is a turning point in German football, for him, the team and the fans. In an interview with DFB.de, the 31-year-old speaks about the reasons for retiring and his plans for the future.
DFB.de: Mr Podolski, how relieved are you?
Lukas Podolski: Why should I be relieved?
DFB.de: The decision to retire for Germany was not easy for you. Wasn’t a weight lifted off your shoulders once the decision had been made and announced?
Podolski: I wouldn’t say that. It wasn’t that I’d been toiling over this decision. I had already been thinking about it a little bit during the Euros. After the tournament I spoke with my family about it, with my wife and also with my dad. I’ve taken this decision because I believe it’s for the best. It therefore wasn’t hard for me to announce the end of my international career.
DFB.de: You weren’t toiling over this decision, but it was tough nonetheless, no?
DFB.de: When something comes to an end, it is of course on the one hand always a bit sad. On the other hand I always look at things positively. The past twelve years have been incredible for me, I’ve experienced a lot and achieved a great deal. I view my career with the national team as complete, not incomplete. Only then would calling time on my international career have been difficult. For me there’s no reason to be upset, there are no tears, only smiles. For me this is a new beginning, and I’m looking forward to it.
DFB.de: What was the deciding factor?
Podolski: After everything I had experienced, I asked myself how much it appealed to me to continue and what could still come for me in international football. I’ve played in seven major tournaments, including a home world cup in Germany, one European Championship in Poland and becoming a World Cup winner in Brazil. It can’t really get any better. I would have probably had another one or two years in the national team if I’d have given it everything. But I asked myself whether it would be worth putting aside the many other things which make up my life.
DFB.de: Above all your family.
Podolski: Yes, definitely.
DFB.de: So was the birth of your daughter shortly before the Euros a key reason for your retirement?
Podolski: It was certainly one of them. I am a family man, and when you go to a tournament you’re always away from home for a very long time. This time away from the family was never easy for me, but I could deal with it because it was part of my job. But over the years your priorities change. It wasn’t the deciding factor for me, but it is a really nice side to leaving international football that I can spend much more time with my family in the future.
DFB.de: Shortly before you, Bastian Schweinsteiger announced his retirement from the national team. Did that also have an influence on your decision?
Podolski: Your decision must always be about you. Of course I noticed that Basti had retired, but my decision would not have been different if he were to have carried on. I think his reasons are similar to mine. His priorities have changed, which is completely normal.###more###
DFB.de: Schweinsteiger will bow out with one last appearance against Finland on 31st August. The same was planned for you, but you’ll have to miss the game.
Podolski: Unfortunately yes. My injury means I can’t be there.
DFB.de: Aren’t you happy that you won’t be bidding farewell in Mönchengladbach of all places?
Podolski: No. As a former player for Cologne, it might have added something special to it. But I always found that the fans overall responded positively to me. That was also the case with Germany matches at Mönchengladbach. I’m sure it would have been the same against Finland. I’m also pretty sure I’d have been able to get a few Cologne supporters to come to Gladbach and almost make it like a home game. But it wasn’t meant to be, I can’t change that.
DFB: Joachim Löw has already announced that you will be given one final appearance for Germany. Do you know when that will be?
Podolski: Not yet, I will discuss it nearer the time. But I’m really pleased that the head coach and DFB want to give me the opportunity to personally say goodbye to the fans one last time.
DFB: Your last game for Germany will therefore be cap number 130. How well do you remember the start of your international career and your debut for the national side?
Podolski: People always ask me this question and also what my favourite goal or best game was. I don’t think really think about these sorts of things though. I will take so many positive lessons, stories and experiences from my time with the national team, particularly the personal memories. It’s therefore impossible for me to reduce my time with Germany into a few moments or some up my time in one game. Obviously my debut was something special, but that essentially applies to almost everything that I have experienced in my eleven years with the national team, especially all of the extraorindary moments with amazing individuals. It would therefore be unfair to all the great people I have been lucky to meet, to just talk about my first game. Right at the start it was people like Oliver Kahn, Michael Ballack and Miroslav Klose and many more. I also have a lot to thank the support staff for. In my time with Germany so many people have me given a lot and that’s what will stick with me in particular.
DFB: Is it your close relationship with the fans you will miss the most?
Podolski: Of course. The fans have always meant the most to me and I am very grateful for everything they have given. Even now I still get goosebumps when I think about my substitution in the recent EURO 2016 game against Slovakia. The way they received me and the way they chanted my name was amazing. Throughout my career I’ve had so many similarly fantastic experiences which are all priceless.
DFB: You were always a fan favourite. Why do you think that was the case?Podolski: You have to stay true to yourself and not pretend to be someone you’re not. I would say that is my main principle. I am open and always reach out to the fans. It’s nothing something I do because it looks good, but rather because I genuinely want to do so.
DFB: Your time with the national team is up but you are still playing club football. What targets do you still have?
Podolski: I’m not a footballing dinosaur just yet. I have many more years ahead of me in club football and still have huge ambitions. I am only 31 years old and feel fit and strong. I am still passionate about playing the game. There are still two years left to run on my contract with Galatasary and I want to win as much as possible in that time. After that, we will see what happens. There is even the option for me to play for my team in Poland, Gomik Zabre, at the end of my career.
DFB: Have you set yourself a deadline of when you want to finish playing football?
Podolski: No, there’s no deadline. I want to play for as long as possible, or at least as long as I still enjoy playing. I haven’t yet thought about my retirement from club football, that’s still a long way off.###more###