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In Matthäus' footsteps

Schweinsteiger: Medals beat records any day

Bastian Schweinsteiger is just 25, but when Germany run out against Azerbaijan on Wednesday, he is set to earn his 70th senior cap. The Munich midfielder’s international record bears strong resemblances to that of the nation’s most-capped player, Lothar Matthäus. However, the record set by the 1990 World Cup winner, who clocked up no fewer than 150 appearances for his country, is not the Bayern youth product’s main target in his international career. “I’d rather finish with 90 caps and win the World Cup or the EURO than end up as the most-capped player,” Schweinsteiger declared on Monday.

Matthäus was actually part of Schweinsteiger’s international debut. Some five years ago, on the eve of EURO 2004, the midfielder made his first international appearance in a 2-0 defeat to Hungary, then coached by Matthäus. “I remember it very well,” recalled the Bavarian native, “it was all uphill from there. I’ve had some success with the national team since then, chiefly at the World Cup here in Germany.”

A World Cup and two Euros

Schweinsteiger has long been a regular for the Germans. Of the current squad, only Michael Ballack (94 caps) and Miroslav Klose (90) have appeared more often. “I hope there’ll be plenty more,” said Schweinsteiger, who has 19 goals for his country so far. Only eight players have clocked up 100 caps or more for Germany, including caps earned for the former West Germany and GDR national teams.

Schweinsteiger has taken part in two European championships (2004, 2008) and one World Cup (2006). His fondest memory is the 3-1 victory over Portugal in the third-place play-off at the World Cup in Germany three years ago: “It’s not only because I scored twice and it was a tremendous occasion in Stuttgart, but it was Oliver Kahn’s farewell match for the national team. That’s the thing I remember most.”