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Ballack remains as Germany captain: Loew

Chelsea star Michael Ballack will remain as Germany captain despite his criticism of Joachim Loew, the national coach Loew announced.

Ballack had flown from London to Frankfurt on Thursday to apologise directly to Loew for a newspaper interview last week in which he said the coach should show his senior players more loyalty and respect after veteran midfielder Torsten Frings was dropped.

Ballack, 32, apologised last weekend in a press release, but Loew insisted the Chelsea midfielder fly to the German Football Federation (DFB) offices in Frankfurt to meet face-to-face on Thursday and explain his comments.

Munich newspaper Abendzeitung claimed on Thursday that Ballack was set to resign as Germany captain, but remain in the team with Bayern Munich defender Philipp Lahm taking over as captain.

“Michael Ballack will remain as captain,” Loew said however on Friday after the German football fraternity had been waiting eagerly for a decision since much earlier in the day.

It seemed Loew had wanted to take his time on making this important decision for a team which under-performed at Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland during the summer.

“Even a captain has to respect the rules,” added Loew. “He (Ballack) knows he can discuss an internal situation at any time. But all the sporting and selection decisions will in the final analysis be taken by our team of coaches and I made that known to Michael without the slightest trace of ambiguity.”

Ballack, who has played 89 times for Germany, said: “I understand that it was not appropriate for me to express myself in public and I am sorry that that gave the impression that I wanted to criticise Loew in his role as coach. I told him I was sorry.”

Ballack, who was named captain by former coach Jurgen Klinsmann in August 2004 to succeed keeper Oliver Kahn, had already said he was sorry last week but Loew still wanted a meeting with him before taking a decision on his future.

Many football observers apparently believed Loew had little choice but to keep Ballack in his role as skipper.

Legendary German player Franz Beckenbauer summed up that feeling by saying: “Ballack is the best player we have at the moment, the only one of real world class. He has become a really good captain these last few years. A coach cannot do without such a player.”

With less than two years to go to the World Cup in South Africa, Ballack is seen generally as a key figure in their attempt to regain the glory days of their 1990 World Cup victory.

Germany's next match is a November 19 friendly against England in Berlin.

Fri 31 October, 2008
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