Philipp Lahm has called time on his international career after winning the 2014 World Cup with Germany, as revealed by Bild via ESPN FC:
Philipp Lahm, Germany's World Cup-winning captain, has retired from international football at the age of 30, according to German paper Bild.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 18, 2014
Lahm confirmed the decision to Bild, saying, "I told Jogi Low on Monday already that I am retiring from international football. The decision developed during last season," via The Guardian.
The versatile Bayern Munich star bows out in the most spectacular way possible and goes down in history as the first German captain to capture the trophy since the nation's reunification in 1990.
Although many are sure to believe 30 is a little too young for Lahm to hang up his international boots, the decision is understandable now that he has achieved the ultimate goal.
Should Philipp Lahm be considered a German legend?
Instead of undertaking a packed schedule of Euro 2016 qualifiers and World Cup defence in Russia 2018, Lahm can now focus on maintaining his form at club level. The right-back, who is often deployed in central midfield by Pep Guardiola at the Allianz Arena, retires one day after Germany were confirmed to be atop FIFA's World Rankings, reported on the governing body's website.
He ends an international career that saw him rack up 113 caps, 37 short of Lothar Matthaus' record of 150, per ITV. Former German international Dietmar Hamann sums up the feeling of many when assessing the incredible player's service:
Philip Lahm retires from international football. Great servant for the national team and a well deserved World Cup winning captain.— Didi Hamann (@DietmarHamann) July 18, 2014
Lahm made his international debut on Feb. 18, 2004, during a 2-1 win over Croatia. He went on to play in all three of Germany's group games at Euro 2004, before missing many of the 2005-06 matches through injury. Upon his return, Lahm scored a stunning opener during the 2006 World Cup, hosted in his home nation.
He once again appeared in every match during Euro 2008, before scoring against Turkey in the semi-final. Germany would go on to lose the final against Spain, who signalled the onset of their era of dominance through Fernando Torres' goal.
Two years later, Lahm became the youngest-ever World Cup captain, per the Bundesliga. He remained influential throughout the South African tournament and in Euro 2012, where he scored a quarter-final strike against Greece.
His brilliance came to a head at this year's World Cup, where he posted top-quality displays during the 7-1 semi-final win over Brazil and final triumph against Argentina.
WhoScored.com indicated Lahm's output was influential across the entire pitch at the most recent tournament, while Paddy Power underlined his career-wide individual success:
Philipp Lahm: Only Toni Kroos (373) completed more passes in the attacking half of the pitch at the 2014 World Cup than Lahm (286)— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 18, 2014
Lahm has made the All-Star team of each World Cup he's played in & if these reports are true, lifted trophy in last game for Germany. Nice.— Paddy Power (@paddypower) July 18, 2014
Germany have undoubtedly lost their key leader, but Joachim Low will be confident of others stepping up. The World Cup-winning side are a great team and not defined by an individual. Great unity was shown throughout the Brazilian competition, as the German squad worked for each other instead of focusing play through a star man.
It will be interesting to see if any other squad members follow Lahm's decision to retire. Miroslav Klose and Roman Weidenfeller are 36 and 33 respectively, meaning further announcements wouldn't come as a surprise. Bastian Schweinsteiger turns 30 in August, but should be considered a leading candidate for the armband.
Lahm retires from international football in a manner all professionals should dream of—at the top of his game, with the World Cup under his arm, and before anyone can say he's no longer good enough to play for Germany.