Created on 27-03-2008 at 00:00 AM
Christian Lell must by now have realised that Ottmar Hitzfeld holds him in high esteem. The defender has made 32 appearances for Bayern this term, more than any other recognised full-back in the Munich squad. Nevertheless, a statement by coach Hitzfeld mooting Christian as a potential candidate for the German senior side has taken the FCB youth product by surprise.
"I'm a bit overwhelmed to be honest,“ Lell said, obviously struggling for words on being quizzed about Hitzfeld's remarks. "If he keeps it up, he'll definitely be a candidate for [Germany coach] Jogi Löw,“ the General told a news conference on Thursday.
"Obviously I'm delighted if Ottmar Hitzfeld chooses to say something like that,“ Lell responded, denying he had been harbouring any hopes of making the Germany team, let alone leaping aboard the Euro 2008 express at the last minute. "I'm just going to continue trying to perform to the best of my ability,“ he continued. He has done exactly that in convincing fashion of late.
Lell has simply stretched out both hands and seized the chance presented by Willy Sagnol's injury-related absence for the whole of the first half of the season, and spells on the sidelines for Philipp Lahm and Marcell Jansen. "That's the reason I've made so many appearances and had the chance to show what I can do,“ Lell reflected.
Profitable time on loan
"After an unbelievable first half of the season, I just hoped it would carry on,“ he continued. He missed last Saturday's Bundesliga encounter with Leverkusen due to suspension, but could be back for the weekend trip to Nuremberg. "I'm personally not surprised Christian's played so often,“ Hitzfeld observed.
Lell himself regards his progress as part of a development process. "I agreed to go out on loan to Cologne in order to gain experience.“ In a spell with the Rhineland club from 2004 to 2006, he appeared in the first and second divisions, and also the third division north. "All in all, I'd say it was a complete package," he smiled. Perhaps not quite: a call-up for Germany would complete the set.