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Decision announced

Van Bommel named new Bayern captain

Mark van Bommel wore the armband bearing the letter ‘C’ in all Bayern’s warm-up matches, and he will continue to lead the side when the 2008-9 campaign begins in earnest on Sunday, after head coach Jürgen Klinsmann appointed the Dutch ace to succeed Oliver Kahn as club captain on Friday. Van Bommel thus becomes the first non-German captain in the history of the club.

“Mark is predestined for this role,” commented Klinsmann, “he’s been an outstanding leader of the team since the start of pre-season in June, and he commands admiration and respect from all the players, young and old alike. He’s a positive-thinking character, he radiates passion and isn’t afraid to voice criticism when he feels it necessary.“

First non-German in the job

Van Bommel’s role in the holding position meant “he has a key position in midfield. He’s the link between the defence, the forwards and the midfield,” explained Klinsmann, who also values his new skipper’s language abilities. “It’s easy for Mark to communicate with every area of the team,” the coach remarked. Aside from his native Dutch, the 31-year-old speaks German, Spanish and English.

Van Bommel said he was “extremely proud and honoured to be wearing the armband for such a great club. I’m also pleased to be the first non-German captain. Bayern has had some huge personalities as captain in the past: Beckenbauer, Breitner, Rummenigge, Augenthaler, Effenberg and Kahn, to name but a few.“

Experience from Eindhoven

On Friday morning, Klinsmann privately informed Van Bommel of the decision, taken after consultation with the entire coaching staff. “The coach told me just before the morning team talk,” the Dutch ace revealed. The news was conveyed to the squad at the session immediately afterwards. Van Bommel is an experienced skipper after captaining PSV Eindhoven for five seasons, “although Bayern is obviously a step up,” he said.

The new responsibility will not mean radical changes for him personally, Van Bommel feels. “The armband doesn’t make much difference. I’ll do the same as I’ve been doing for the last two seasons, trying to help the team to the best of my ability both on and off the field.“

Deputies and team council

Klinsmann also named Lucio and Martin Demichelis as vice captains in support of Van Bommel. “These three players are very, very important points of contact for me,” explained Klinsmann, “we’ll be getting together regularly to talk things through and check on the team’s direction.“

Having three non-Germans at the head of the dressing room hierarchy simply reflected the international flavour of modern football, the head coach commented. Nationality was less important than other attributes such as “identification with the club and full-blooded commitment,“ he remarked. The team council this season will comprise the skipper and his deputies plus Germany internationals Philipp Lahm and Miroslav Klose.