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'I'm the captain,' insists angry Ballack

AFP/The Local · 15 Jul 2010, 08:15

Published: 15 Jul 2010 08:15 GMT+02:00

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Ballack, who has 98 caps to his name, is not yet ready to call time on his international career and launched a broadside at Lahm while giving his first press conference at new club Bayer Leverkusen.

"I am the captain of the national team," said Ballack. "Philipp Lahm has made his claim at a moment that I feel is inopportune. I was injured and could not defend myself.

"There are hierarchies. I am going to talk to Philipp about this business."

Lahm was given the armband for the World Cup in South Africa when the 33-year-old Ballack, who has captained the side since 2004, injured his ankle playing for Chelsea at the end of May.

With Germany reaching the semi-finals, the 26-year-old Lahm went on record to say that he would not hand back the captaincy unless told to do so by coach Joachim Löw.

The issue has cast a light shadow over Germany's World Cup campaign which saw them win rave reviews for their four-goal thrashings of Australia, England and Argentina.

It is also dividing the team with midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, a teammate of Lahm's at Bayern Munich, pouring oil on the fire on Sunday by declaring that he considered Ballack to be ''the'' captain of the national team.

"For me, it is Ballack who is the captain. Philipp took on the role solely becasue Michael was injured," he told the daily Die Welt.

Story continues below…

Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff ticked Lahm off at the time but another ex-international Lothar Matthaus suggested during the World Cup that Germany is better off without Ballack.

"I don't mean that in a spiteful way but Ballack was arguably holding up a number of players who've now blossomed," said Matthaus.

Löw, who has yet to sign a new deal with the German football federation after guiding Germany to third place in South Africa, has not commented on the brouhaha.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

08:51 July 15, 2010 by Thomas Tariro
Lahm behaved immaturely.How can he only think about replacing Ballack as captain?He should have felt sorry for his colleague who was injured and did not go to the world cup.Bitte Bitte Lahm das ist nicht gut.
09:25 July 15, 2010 by Prufrock2010
I'm just happy to see that no egos are at work here and that peace and harmony abound.
10:21 July 15, 2010 by Portnoy
This is all a manufactured media circus. Lahm only responded to a question of whether or not he liked being captain and if he could imagine remaining so in the future. He didn't lay a claim to anything.

It's the media who hit Ballack when he was down, not Lame.
10:25 July 15, 2010 by Kanji
I like the latest German team (even am not a German) and sadden to read this media circling fight "am the captain". Guys seat down and talk to each other like civilize and professional footballer. Don't fight on the media, it's not healthy to this young and promising team.
11:54 July 15, 2010 by marimay
Does he always have that smug douche-bag look on his face?
15:25 July 15, 2010 by hanskarl
Joachim Löw is built a great younger team. It was fortunate that Ballack was sidelined. Lahms perspective and mentality helped the younger players as he was not afraid to use them or perhaps not so ingrained in the good old boy system. The front line was fantastic this year.

I like Michael Ballack as a player and he was good for Germany but even in 2006 he didn't seem to have the necessary leadership skills. And then to get into a row with your trainer, Joachim Löw? To be a leader you first must be a follower. From the replays Ballack earned his ligament damage the old fashioned way. It truly was unfortunate for Michael but for Germany this year it was a blessing. They would not have performed as well as they did with Michael.

Bastian is right only because he understands the process and the politics behind the scenes. Then again he may be thinking of his own aspirations.
16:33 July 15, 2010 by maynot
I think Loew should give the armband to Bastian Schweinsteiger. When both Ballack and Lahm don't get the armband, they'll stop fighting and begin to act like adult :)

But if I have to choose between Ballack and Lahm, I'll vote for Lahm. Ballack is an amazing player, and I will always admire him. But... his prime time is over. It's better to give Lahm the opportunity to become captain now, and thus he will have at least 2 years to refine his leadership skill.

I agree with Matthaeus in this matter: it's a blessing in disguise that Ballack didn't fit enough to join the World Cup. Everything happens for a reason... and... in this case, it might happen because the young guns need NOT to be overshadowed :)
20:26 July 15, 2010 by mikecowler
I agree with Matthaus, Ballack,s got the British player attitude about him now..."i am fantastic, a and every body has to respect me cos i am Ballack the German national team". Well Ballack get off your arse and prove to us you still deserve the captaincy, because i think Bastian Schweinsteiger should have it....Come on Jogi hurry up and sort this silly squabble out...p.s why the move from Chelsea?? Do they think you have peaked your career and now your surplous to their teams needs because they have younger better talented players arriving??
23:05 July 15, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well. the team did very well without Ballack. Had it not been for corrupt refs, then Germany would probably have won the World Cup in South Africa. They had the second youngest team and based upon shear numbers, they were the best team.

It's unfortunate that Ballack wasn't able to play in the most important games. It's rather strange in how he, for some reason or another, missed the most important ones. Although he played in the Euro Championship against Spain, he was not however truly healthy.

It's the same for many stars in other sports too. It is simply difficult to walk away, even when it's time.
23:07 July 15, 2010 by Edmond Schindler
"I'm just impressed that an article contained the word 'brouhaha' "

Yes, that is what caught my eye as well...

otherwise "Let the best Man lead" and if that can't happen then let Ballack lead.
23:59 July 15, 2010 by lenin_mir
Mr. Löw should not wait for the renewal or suspension of his contract before resolving/commenting on this unfortunate intrigue/s within the German team_it is still his obligation to clear up things on this issue since the decision to make Mr. Lamm as captain in place of an injured Mr. Ballack came directly from him!
05:07 July 16, 2010 by JAMessersmith
Ballack has got to go. His play doesn't mesh with the new style, and he's a dinosaur now anyway. By the time the next WC rolls around he'll be 37 or 38, which isn't going to fly. Not that I'm a big fan of Lahm... I'd make Schweini captain if it was up to me, for bagging Sarah Brandner if nothing else... Plus, his name is "Schweinsteiger"... enough said, debate over.
06:47 July 16, 2010 by 1FCK_1FCK
Part of the reason Germany played so well was not because Ballack was not on the field, but rather because he wasn't in the locker room. He's a tyrant the younger players can do without. He's part of the old, arrogant generation of plodding technocrats. He'll slow down the team & they will be less expressive on the field, as well as less well-knit in the locker room. Jogi needs to drop Ballack & end this manufactured controversy. Ballack can't possibly make a meaningful contribution in 2012 so might as well dump him now.
07:37 July 16, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Logic Guy --

Have you any evidence to back up your claim that the referees were corrupt? Incompetent to be sure, but corrupt? You should exercise a little restraint before engaging in defamation.
09:09 July 16, 2010 by leealt
I suggest Paul (the Octopus) to choose who should be Germany's captain.
10:39 July 16, 2010 by T.J. Morton
To second Prufrock2010's last comment, it wasn't the refereeing that cost Germany the semifinal match. There were other matches where the refereeing had a definite impact on the outcome, but not the semifinal between Germany and Spain.

Granted, I have no evidence to support my claim! :-)
18:44 July 16, 2010 by cocovelvet
WOW !!!!.....How I loved watching that young german team play in World Cup without the captaining of Ballack........... i believe and second those who say the guy must exit the football ground peacefully as of now. No need really for bigering around ; I also believe Schweini could also fit as a captain.

By the way, if he is confident he is the captain, why say it then angrily ?? Something cooking behind which we need to know Herr Ballack ??
19:28 July 16, 2010 by Nur Ainne Johar
Oh my gosh, I can't believe what's happening here......damn!

Lahm showed the most in control captaincy ever, Bastian, he has got to understand Lahm's calmness impact to the team impressive performance in South Africa before make any baseless comment!

Ballack, gosh, he has to learn to put aside his personal importance for the sake of the team just like Klose did when he made clear to the coach he couldnt perform at his best against Uruguay although that could be his last chance to break Ronaldo's record!

Last but not least, DON'T DESTROY TEAM'S UNITY OVER DAMN EGO! I've been supporting you guys simply because I believe Germany team has the less ego than any team in this ego and cocky football world! So don't destroy that trust! dammit!
21:45 July 16, 2010 by untotheball
Michael Ballack should graciously step down. His presence in the team will neither add to the quality of the team performance nor will it be fair to the younger players who played their hearts out in the recent World Cup.

It is not for Ballack to say that 'I am the captain.' He was the aptain - before the World Cup. But the World Cup has shown that Germany plays well without him.

It is Ballack who needs Germany and not Germany that needs Ballack.

He was given all honors for many years. His time is past. Let him play two more games as a substitute and achieve 100 caps for the team.

And let Phillip Lahm lead Germany into the future.
22:20 July 16, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, I believe it's best to make statements that are based upon facts. And the fact is, the same ref that gave a yellow card to Mueller for NOTHING, only called a faul on the player from the other team. Why didn't the ref give a yellow card to the player from Argentina?
20:59 July 17, 2010 by deep_schismic
Ballack's time is sadly over. I still think he can contribute to the team but is FAR from indispensable, let alone the 'only' captain. Lahm and Schweinsteiger have proved very loudly that they have what it takes to lead the team, and frankly the team was better off without 'me-me-me-Ballack'.
07:33 July 18, 2010 by proclusian
It's time to recognize that, as good as Ballack has been on his various teams (Bayern Munich, Chelsea, etc.) that he never really did all that much on the national team -- I mean, I guess you could say he was captain, and provided "leadership," but what about GOALS, Michael?

Precious few. Almost as bad as Gómez in this regard (and I don't know why Gómez even plays on the national team). So, although he might come back as Captain between now and the EM 2012, perhaps he should sit on the bench!
03:02 July 19, 2010 by Eagle1
Both Ballack and Lahm should shut the F up and deal with this in private. They are embarrasing themselves and their nation. That said, Ballack should not be removed as captain simply because he suffered an injury. That's just stupid.
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