Michael Ballack has admitted that images in the press showing Polish coach Leo Beenhakker brandishing the German captain's head has disturbed him ahead of Sunday's Euro 2008 clash with Poland.
Polish tabloid Super Express in midweek printed a grisly modified picture of Beenhakker holding the severed heads of Germany boss Joachim Loew and skipper Ballack under the headline: “Leo, bring us their heads!”.
Both Loew and Beenhakker distanced themselves from the controversy, but Ballack said the pictures were unacceptable and damaged football's image.
“We have seen the pictures re-printed in the German dailies, it doesn't really make us jump for joy,” said Ballack at Germany's Euro 2008 base here ahead of Sunday's Group B clash in Klagenfurt, Austria.
“There are some people who are cynical enough to just accept this is an everyday occurance and there is nothing you can do about it.
“But I, for one, am a little bit more concerned about it, this is just a football match and this sort of thing should not be printed.
“It doesn't become football as a sport.”
Ballack said he will not be influenced by the pictures as his side look to maintain their unbeaten record against Poland in 15 matches since the sides first met in 1933.
Germany are looking to end their 12-year wait for a European Championship win having returned winless from both Euro 2000 and 2004.
Despite enduring an injury-ravaged 2007, Ballack has been in superb form this season helping his side to last month's Champions League final in Moscow and says he wants to carrying on for his country.
“I have been fortunate enough recently to collect lots of compliments on my form and that is something I am keen to transfer to the Germany side,” said the 31-year-old.
“I am happy to play in the Premier League, it's a competition which encourages players to give only their very best week in, week out and you have to be 100 percent.
“You are up against world-class players on a regular basis, but there are fantastic players all over Europe in the Bundesliga, in Italy, in Spain for example.
“It doesn't matter really where you play and players bring their own experiences from the different leagues into the national squad.”
After months of planning and preparation, Ballack said the Germany squad are desperate for the game to come around as they try to live up to their pre-tournament billing as joint favourites.
“It goes without saying, we are raring to go,” said Ballack.
“The preparation tends to be the painful bit, everyone is burning to get on with it.
“We have used the time to the full, which is the typical German approach and confidence comes from knowing you have done all you can.
“It's important for us to get a win on Sunday to build momentum, things rarely go well in your first game, but it's about learning your lessons and improving for the next game.
“With a win under your belt, the job is always that bit easier, knowing you have won by playing good football.
“We have never lost to Poland and it's a record we want to keep.”
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