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Golden generation

Battle-scarred Schweinsteiger crowns career

Bastian Schweinsteiger was wrapped in a national flag with a shirt signed by former Germany World Cup winners in the basement of the legendary Maracanã Stadium. The wound under his right eye was a visible mark of probably the biggest and toughest battle of his career - that ended with the ultimate success in the beautiful game.

“I was absolutely determined to get as far as we could. I was glad the coach spared me a bit at the start,” recalled the 29-year-old looking back at a tricky start to an ultimately triumphant World Cup campaign. Schweinsteiger must have paid close attention to the wise words of Joachim Löw ahead of the Final. “We said: You all need to put in the biggest shift of your whole career today. Then you’ll achieve something you've never had before and that’s taking the World Cup back home,“ explained Löw after the 1-0 victory over Argentina in Rio de Janeiro.

Schweinsteiger's performance in his 108th international appearance can only be described as world class. The 29-year-old covered a huge amount of ground and did not shirk a single challenge in a first rate display – and all that after his injury problems at the start of the tournament, when the tendon in his knee was badly inflamed.

But the midfield general rolled up his sleeves and played 504 minutes in six games. He was particularly impressive in the game against the USA, fought his way through extra time against Algeria and his commitment and passion in the Argentina game were a symbol of his generation's unswerving will to win – at the sixth attempt in a big tournament.

The unstoppable Lahm

“We knew champions have to somehow take the one final hurdle to pull it off. We never lost our self-belief,” said Germany coach Löw, “all the players in this team have given one hundred percent, led by an outstanding Bastian Schweinsteiger and an outstanding Philipp Lahm who both put in a tremendous amount of running.”

Schweinsteiger was kicked by Javier Mascherano, and Sergio Agüero caught him in the face with his hand in an aerial duel. Few believed the midfield dynamo would see the game out. Blood ran down his face but, with Kevin Großkreutz ready to come on, Schweinsteiger returned to the fray to the delight of the fans. Winning the World Cup was a just reward for his efforts.

Schweinsteiger's international career is not over yet. He indicated another World Cup is a possibility, but the tournament in Brazil has left battle scars. At the party on the beach at Ipanema Schweinsteiger was unwilling to think about returning to Germany on Tuesday. “I'm done in. It will be a long night. I'm trying to enjoy the moment to the full.”