Lahm re­tire­ment surprises Bayern

Ger­man star turns down club’s job of­fer

Global Times - Weekend - - SPORTS - AFP

Philipp Lahm caught team­mates and club bosses by sur­prise when he not only an­nounced he will re­tire in June but also that he will spurn an of­fer to fill the va­cant sports di­rec­tor role at Bayern. After mak­ing his 501st ap­pear­ance for Bayern in Tues­day’s 1-0 Ger­man Cup win over Wolfs­burg, Ger­many’s World Cup-win­ning cap­tain con­firmed re­ports that he will stop play­ing at the end of the sea­son – with a year left on his con­tract. News that he had also turned down the sports di­rec­tor role raised eye­brows. Chair­man Karl-Heinz Rum­menigge put out a state­ment on Wed­nes­day say­ing the club is “sur­prised by Philipp Lahm and his ad­vi­sor” and he had “as­sumed a joint state­ment would be made.” Rum­menigge stressed “the door will al­ways be open for Philipp at FC Bayern,” but, for now, the 33-year-old plans to walk away from the Bavar­ian giants, who he joined as an 11-year-old in 1995. The tim­ing of Lahm’s de­ci­sion is strange, but his hand was forced by mag­a­zine Sports Bild, who first broke the news on Tues­day, hours be­fore the Wolfs­burg match. “On Fri­day, Lahm turned Karl-Heinz Rum­menigge down, but it is not com­mon to go pub­lic with these things be­fore im­por­tant games and we had Schalke on Satur­day,” ex­plained Bayern Pres­i­dent Uli Hoe­ness. “On Mon­day, the su­per­vi­sory board met [when Lahm told Bayern’s bosses], Tues­day was our next game and we wanted to talk about it some more on Wed­nes­day,” but Sports Bild leaked the news and Lahm went pub­lic.

First tre­ble

He will re­tire as one of the best de­fend­ers of his gen­er­a­tion, yet was flex­i­ble enough to also play in mid­field for club and coun­try.

He re­tired from in­ter­na­tional duty after lift­ing the 2014 World Cup with Ger­many in Brazil and made 113 ap­pear­ances for Die Mannschaft.

With Bayern, he has won the Bun­desliga ti­tle seven times, the Ger­man Cup six times – with more sil­ver­ware likely to come in May – and has been club cap­tain since Jan­uary 2011.

He led them to the 2012-13 Cham­pi­ons League ti­tle when they be­came the first Ger­man club to win the tre­ble of Euro­pean, league and cup ti­tles.

With mid­fielder Xabi Alonso also re­tir­ing in June, Lahm’s added de­par­ture will leave Bayern short on ex­pe­ri­ence next sea­son, but he ex­plained his rea­sons.

“I see my lead­er­ship role the same way as I give my best every day, give my all in train­ing and in every game,” Lahm told re­porters.

“I be­lieve I am ca­pa­ble of do­ing that this sea­son, but not after that, so it was clear for me that I would stop at the end of the sea­son.

“We are talk­ing about more than a year and I be­lieve that I am not able to main­tain the level that I am used to and my team­mates are used to.”

Bayern’s Ger­many cen­ter back Mats Hum­mels only learnt of Lahm’s de­ci­sion in postgame in­ter­views and said, “It’s a pity he won’t be here from this sum­mer. I am sur­prised, but I re­spect it. He’ll have his rea­sons.”

Lahm’s de­ci­sion to turn down the sports di­rec­tor job, va­cated by Matthias Sam­mer last year, caught Hoe­ness off guard.

“I’m just sur­prised. We did not see there be­ing a rush. The job would have only started on Jan­uary 1, 2018 and he had the job de­scrip­tion,” Hoe­ness told the Funke Me­dia Group.

“There were four meet­ings about it and I can imag­ine that he will one day work for FC Bayern.”

Power strug­gle?

Sport Bild claims Lahm turned down the job be­cause it did not in­clude a po­si­tion on Bayern’s board and he wanted to have the same power as Rum­menigge and Hoe­ness.

Lahm painted a dif­fer­ent pic­ture, not want­ing to go from his play­ing ca­reer into a high-pro­file po­si­tion at Bayern, even with a break.

“There were talks and I de­cided it isn’t the right time to jump into a job with FC Bayern,” he said.

“I won’t go into de­tails, but one thing was clear: I wouldn’t have started im­me­di­ately, there would have been a small break for me, which I would have needed, so I could have pre­pared my­self.

“There is no plan now; the only thing is I will be a pri­vate per­son from this sum­mer.

“I can take care of other things and meet other peo­ple.

“I have been at the club so long, I want to see what the fu­ture brings.

“No one ex­pected that I would stop and do noth­ing.”

Philipp Lahm of Bayern Mu­nich con­trols the ball dur­ing their Ger­man Cup match against VfL Wolfs­burg on Tues­day in Mu­nich, Ger­many.

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