He might not be the most imposing figure on the football pitch, but Germany international fullback Philippe Lahm is nevertheless a player of huge impact.
Lahm’s intelligence, technical ability, tactical knowledge and overall professional character have made him a footballing legend and a player whose legacy will be sealed and extremely difficult to match once he goes out to hang up his boots.
That time will come sooner than most of the true football aficionados would have liked it since Philippe Lahm himself confirmed that ongoing season in Bundesliga could very well be his last ever.
Football will miss Philippe Lahm, one of the last specimen of a dying breed.
With the likes of Steven Gerrard, Xavi, Iker Casillas destroying the image of one-club men in the modern game, AS Roma captain Francesco Totti and his successor Daniele De Rossi will soon be left on their own, defying the tide of time.
Philipp Lahm deserves the place in this esteemed company as one-club player who began and will finish his football career with the Bavarian giants.
The 32-year-old Germany international first stepped on a football field as a member of Bayern Munich II where he spent two years before breaking into the first team in 2002. His Bayern beginnings were not easy and Lahm was sent on a two-year loan spell at Stuttgart, before returning to the fold in 2005.
For the last ten years however, Philipp Lahm has demonstrated his true football value by growing a glowing legacy. Considered by many as one of the best fullbacks of his generation, Lahm is the eight-time Bundesliga winner, who has also added 7 DFB Pokal titles to his trophy cabinet.
On the most glorious note, the German defender has helped Bayern climb the European throne in 2012-13, while also finishing runner-up two times prior to the UEFA Champions League success.
Praised for his versatility, Philipp Lahm will remain remembered as a player who played in various positions during his career. Having started off as a right-footed left-back, Lahm was shifted to right-back by Jupp Heynckess and his personal preference.
Being a faithful football servant as he is, Lahm went under another position shift during Guardiola’s time at Bayern.
The Spaniard’s obsession with possession-oriented football resulted in Philipp Lahm being picked out to fill in the defensive midfield role earning many plaudits for his exploits.
Having used his intelligence and tactical knowledge to succeed in his new role, Lahm went on to amaze his own manager Pep Guardiola, who had spoken highly of the German international on more than one occasion.
“He is perhaps the most intelligent player I have ever trained in my career. Lahm is the only right-back in the world who can dominate play from his position”, Guardiola heaped praise on the Bayern captain.
Lahm’s ability to hold the ball calmly even with rivals breathing down his neck has helped him excel in every role he had been given. Quick and efficient mover, Lahm is not your classic fullback, but rather an all-rounder. A player who can do it all.
His fantastic career and form extended from the club level and reached the international stage as well.
The former German skipper has enjoyed a full glorious decade wearing a German shirt. The total of 113 caps and 5 goals for Germany will remain long remembered, more so when you throw records and honours into the mix.
Having started his international career in the U19 team, Philipp Lahm won silver for Die Mannschaft in the 2002 U19 European championship. The same result was achieved six years later when Lahm led the line in all games for Germany at the Euro 2008, ultimately losing to Spain in the final.
The highlight of his international career is the 2014 FIFA World Cup during which Philipp Lahm, captained his national side to the world-wide glory. Having lifted the coveted trophy, Lahm decided to call it quits on his German career, going down in flames as the reigning world champion.
His place in the team has been filled by a boy described as a natural successor for Lahm, another one of the hidden gems that Pep Guardiola recognised and brought to prominence. Joshua Kimmich stepped into the right void left by the veteran and is expected to serve as a long-term replacement for the captain at both international and club level.
Following just 6 Bundesliga appearances this season, Philipp Lahm and his unmistakeable football hunch are convinced that the time to call it a day is nearing.
Initially announcing retirement for 2018, Lahm is not ruling out a more premature departure. Nothing appears to have changed since nine months ago and despite 18 months in his Bayern Munich contract, Lahm could – much to the widespread disappointment – finish his glorious career.
Having lifted a trophy at the end of his international career, Lahm is facing a sure prospect of doing so with his club as the Bavarians stand at mere 1/14 betting odds to be crowned Bundesliga champions.
With one door closing, another will open and Lahm is expected to stay in football once his career is over.
He will be missed, however, as his dying breed loses another prominent member and a player who dedicated his life’s work for one shirt, one colour, one club.