Philipp Lahm has won eight Bundesliga titles, six German cups, the Champions League and the World Cup. Now he is going out at the top
By Jason Humphreys for Englische Woche, part of the Guardian Sport Network
It’s 18:06 on Friday 20 June 2006 and 66,000 people, mostly clad in Germany colours, have packed into Munich’s shiny new Allianz Arena on a warm evening to watch the first match of the World Cup. The crowd is bouncing, buoyed by the home team’s tenacious start and still drawing breath following a 30-yard shot from Thorsten Frings that narrowly missed the net. Noise levels begin to swell again as Philipp Lahm picks up a loose ball wide on the left. He is faced with two Costa Rica defenders. Bastian Schweinsteiger is offering the overlap, but Lahm drops his right shoulder and shifts the ball inside quickly with his right foot, leaving Danny Fonseca on his backside.
The Costa Rica player lands heavily and, as he glances over his shoulder, the next thing he sees is Lahm opening up his body and winding back his right foot. Lahm blasts the ball past everyone in the area and into the top right corner, the ball kissing the post on its way in. Six minutes in, and the first chapter of Germany’s Sommermärchen has been written. Lahm was an instrumental and respected footballer but, even in that moment, as he scored the opening goal at a World Cup in his home city, few of the millions watching would have predicted just how important he would become for his club and country over the next decade.