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First time as captain

Schweinsteiger: An honour and a duty

Eleven years ago, Bastian Schweinsteiger won his maiden cap for Germany in Kaiserslautern. The Betzenberg stadium now provides the setting for his comeback from an eight-month absence since the World Cup final in Brazil – and when the Germans play Australia on Wednesday night, the midfielder will also officially captain the team for the first time. “Obviously it’s an honour, but it also brings great responsibility,” said the 30-year-old, “I’ve been captain a few times, but now it’s official. But it doesn’t change much. I’m the kind of player who thinks you need eleven captains if you’re to win.”

When Philipp Lahm stepped down after the World Cup coach Joachim Löw handed Schweinsteiger the armband, but a persistent knee injury caused the midfielder to miss almost all the first half of the current season. “After the injury I needed a break to get back to where I am now,” he explained, “it cost a lot of energy but it’s paid off.”

Löw: An important signal

“We’ve seen that Bastian’s been in good form for FC Bayern and taken on an important leadership role,” commented Löw, praising the player for his determination, passion and unyielding will to win, especially in the World Cup final in Rio. “His return sends out an important signal. We all know how he performed in the big games at the World Cup, and what his presence on the field means.”

Löw has not yet decided whether the man already capped 108 times by his country will definitely lead out the team against the Australians on Wednesday, as Sunday’s EURO 2016 qualifier away to Georgia is by far the more important fixture. Schweinsteiger has his sights set high for next year’s finals in France: “This team has not yet finished its journey,” he declared.