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Lahm: My dream of European glory

Philipp Lahm is diminutive in stature, but at the table tennis tables on the terrace outside the performance centre, the 24-year-old is the giant of the senior squad. The locally-born FCB youth product has his eye on triumphs on the football field too. fcbayern.de spoke exclusively to Lahm about his position in the back four, the club captaincy and his targets with Bayern.

Interview: Philipp Lahm

fcbayern.de: Philipp, you’re the squad table tennis champion. Has anyone actually beaten you yet?
Lahm: “I’ve lost a game or two but not a match. But I’ve only played Andi Ottl up to now and he’s getting better. I’ve got him under control for the moment.“

fcbayern.de: Along with the other Euro 2008 stars, you were one of the last back in training. How fit are you at the moment?
Lahm: “We’re actually doing pretty well in terms of fitness, because we only had two and a half weeks holiday after all. But we lack the rhythm you get from playing – we’ve not had that many matches.“

fcbayern.de: You’ve appeared at left-back rather than right-back in friendlies so far. Which do you prefer?
Lahm: “I regard right-back as my best position, but I have no problems at all with playing on the left, as everyone saw at the Euro. And I’ve never said I don’t want to play on the left. I’m flexible.“

fcbayern.de: You signed a contract extension with Bayern back in May. How much did Jürgen Klinsmann’s appointment have to do with that?
Lahm: “Obviously I knew Jürgen Klinsmann from the national team, but it wasn’t really a factor. I just want to play successful football, so the club and its philosophy as a whole were the main factors. I’ve won the German league and Cup twice now, so my goal for the future is success in Europe. I think that’s possible in the coming seasons, especially as we strengthen the team when and where necessary. The new performance centre has made things even more professional too.“

fcbayern.de: Where do Bayern stand internationally?
Lahm: “We’re on course, but teams need time to gel. Recent Champions League winners have all been clubs who, step-by-step if you like, have made the quarter-finals, the semi-finals and then the final – and even that’s no guarantee of victory. Take last year’s final between Manchester and Chelsea. Both have gone a long way in recent years, but only one can take home the trophy.“

fcbayern.de: Bayern’s triumph in 2001 was similar: the team back then made the semis and even the final in preceding years before finally going all the way in 2001.
Lahm: “That’s right. History shows how difficult it is to make the Champions League final and then win it. Chelsea have been waiting for years.“

fcbayern.de: In your contract negotiations you clearly spoke about winning the Champions League. What made you express your feelings so openly?
Lahm: “I’m simply ambitious, I want to win and succeed in whatever sport I play. I boast a couple of years as a Germany international now, so it’s part of my responsibility to express my thoughts and targets. That’s why I pulled no punches in the negotiations.“

fcbayern.de: You came across as a potential captain.
Lahm: (laughs) “No, I came over just the way I am: success-oriented and ambitious.“

fcbayern.de: You’ve publicly said you could imagine being club captain.
Lahm: “The media has blown it up out of all proportion. I was first asked whether I could imagine being captain about nine months ago. Obviously I thought about it, but I never said I’d end up as captain. As I said, I have some experience now, I’ve played in the Champions League, I’m a Germany regular – so I’d certainly trust in my ability to be captain.“

fcbayern.de: Would that be special for you as a native of Munich?
Lahm: “Oliver Kahn was captain here for years. He was someone you always looked up. It’ll be a great honour for whoever succeeds him. Naturally, it would be really terrific for me, because I was born in Munich and I came through the youth system at the club.“