Germany bids farewell to 'Prince Poldi' in England friendly
ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 22, 2017 10:22 AM
Germany's forward Lukas Podolski smiles during a press conference prior the friendly soccer match between Germany and England in Dortmund, Germany, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Podolski will play his last match for the national team against England on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
CIARAN FAHEY, Associated Press
BERLIN (AP) — For the last of his 130 international matches for Germany, Lukas Podolski will lead the team out as captain for the first time.
The 31-year-old Germany striker, affectionately called "Prince Poldi," has said he will end his international career following a friendly against England on Wednesday in Dortmund.
"It will definitely be a nice moment but also a sad moment for me," Germany coach Joachim Loew said Tuesday. "We have come a long way together, overcome many hurdles. We experienced many disappointments but also the greatest triumph that you can experience as a player or coach, the World Cup win in 2014."
Only 1990 World Cup-winning captain Lothar Matthaeus and all-time top-scorer Miroslav Klose have made more appearances for Germany.
Podolski made his international debut ahead of the 2004 European Championship when he was 19. He has scored 48 international goals but also, according to Loew, contributed to the team's morale and spirit through his infectious good humor and easy-going nature.
"For him, hearts are rightfully beating everywhere because he has an incredible empathy for people. He always gave everyone the feeling he is incredibly important. We will miss such a player, such a person as Lukas," Loew said.
The coach also said Podolski will be given the captain's armband in the absence of the injured Manuel Neuer. That bit of news came as a shock to Podolski.
"Sensational," Podolski said. "It's the first time I've heard that. It can't be any better for the last game than to run out as captain. I can only say thanks."
Podolski, who was born in Gliwice, Poland, and has Polish citizenship, has played in seven tournaments over a 13-year career for Germany.
Brought to West Germany by his family when he was 2 in 1987, Podolski came to prominence at hometown club Cologne, where he scored 46 goals in 81 league games before being signed by Bayern Munich in 2006.
He was unable to establish himself at Bayern and managed only 15 Bundesliga goals in three seasons before rejoining Cologne in 2009. Podolski left again after the club's 2012 relegation, spending three seasons at Arsenal, including a half-season loan at Inter Milan, before moving to Galatasaray in 2015. He will join Japanese club Vissel Kobe at the end of the season.
His outlook has remained the same no matter where he played and his one-liners are as celebrated as his goals.
"Football is simple. Put the thing in and go home," Podolski has said.
After the game against England, the Germans will travel to Baku for a World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan.
"On Wednesday, there's the emotional game," Germany forward Thomas Mueller said, "on Sunday, the important game."