- 2014 World Cup winner Lahm will bring Trophy to Luzhniki Stadium
- The former Germany captain speaks with FIFA.com ahead of Sunday’s Final
- He said: “I am passing on the pride that German football has felt for the past four years”
At Brazil 2014, Philipp Lahm became the first Germany captain in 24 years to lift the FIFA World Cup™ Trophy – a victory that made him one of the most successful players in the history of the beautiful game. Few footballers can boast a trophy collection that includes domestic championship and cup titles, the UEFA Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup and even the World Cup. Now 34, the full-back announced his retirement from international football after the 2014 triumph and hung up his boots for good three years later.
Lahm will return to football’s biggest stage this Sunday as he brings the golden Trophy to Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. “I am passing on the pride that German football has felt for the past four years,” the man capped 113 times for his country told FIFA.com. “It will be a wistful moment for both us and Germany and an incentive to win the Trophy back.”
We caught up with him before this weekend’s Final between France and Croatia to hear about his excitement at seeing the Trophy again and his thoughts about the defending champions’ early exit from Russia 2018.
FIFA.com: You are about to hand over the World Cup Trophy to the new world champions four years after winning it yourself. How do you feel about the prospect of being reunited with it?
Philipp Lahm: I’m presenting the Trophy on behalf of the German national team and Germany itself. We’ll be passing on the pride our country has felt for the last four years about ending this immense and special event as world champions. We will hand over that pride to the winners.
What will be going through your head during the trophy presentation?
It’s a fantastic moment because it’s the original Trophy. In reality, you only hold it in your hands for a moment, and as captain you inevitably think about the players who have lifted it and then passed it on – Germany skippers such as Fritz Walter, Franz Beckenbauer and Lothar Matthaus, and international captains like Bobby Moore, Carlos Alberto, Daniel Passarella, Dino Zoff, Diego Maradona, Carlos Dunga, Didier Deschamps, Cafu, Fabio Cannavaro and Iker Casillas.
What memories come to mind when you think about Brazil 2014?
I think about when the final whistle blew at the Final. The minutes from Mario Gotze scoring his goal to the end of the match were the longest of my entire life. I was just thinking: ‘Please, please, just blow the whistle!’ I remember Argentina getting a free-kick just before the end and Lionel Messi firing it over the crossbar. Then Manuel Neuer took a goal kick – and the whistle blew. Those last few minutes and the one or two hours after the match will always be the first things I think of.
Carles Puyol passed the Trophy on to you at the Maracana. Who will hold it aloft in Moscow on Sunday?
The match will decide that; there’s no way I’m picking a favourite. Of course, I can very well imagine Hugo Lloris and what it would mean for France and above all the players to follow in Deschamps’ and Zidane’s footsteps. The same is true for Luka Modric and Croatia, who are in a World Cup Final for the first time in their history.
Were you surprised to see four European teams in the semi-finals?
I was a little surprised, as I always expected a South American side to reach the last four. Whether in Brazil, Argentina or Uruguay, there are always players in South America who are blessed with talent. Here in Europe, we have the best infrastructure, and the leagues in Germany, England, Spain, Italy and France are the most attractive and financially sound. We play host to the best players and have the most competitive championships, and that makes the national teams in Europe strong – and even benefits smaller countries such as Belgium and Croatia.
What do you think about Germany’s performances?
Bringing together and building a team that can become European and world champions is an ongoing process and a minor miracle. While what we saw from Germany was by no means a work of art, I’m sure that they have the power to come back stronger and develop a new generation who can live up to Gary Lineker’s famous assertion that “football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end the Germans win.”
Despite Germany’s early exit, you will be wearing their colours for the Final. How will you bid the Trophy farewell?
I’ll be passing on the pride that German football has felt for the past four years. This pride will be handed over to the winners, and there’s no doubt that it will be a powerful image for the beautiful game. It will be a wistful moment for both us and Germany and an incentive to win the Trophy back. We can use this moment to gather our strength for the next World Cup and our bid to host UEFA EURO 2024 and put on another festival of football.