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'Exceptional' Lahm shows range of ability

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'Exceptional' Lahm shows range of ability

Postby FCBayernNews » Mon Aug 27, 2007 7:53 am


The 90 minutes were up at Wembley in Germany's midweek meeting with England when Philipp Lahm experienced arguably the highlight of his stellar career to date: visiting skipper Bernd Schneider strode past Lahm on his way towards the substitutes' bench and handed the Munich man the captain's armband. Even in the heat of the action, Lahm must have been aware he thus became one of the youngest-ever captains of his country.

The 23-year-old later described Schneider's choice as "random. I was standing right in front of him." The gesture was nevertheless full of symbolic meaning. Appearing for the first time in the defensive holding role in front of the back four, the Bayern starlet excelled as Germany scored a prestige 2-1 victory over their arch-rivals, and certainly deserved the honour of leading his team over the finish line.

<b>Lahm: I'm stronger on the flanks</b>

"Philipp did a very good job, but you can take that for granted with him. You can field him wherever you want and he'll do well. He's an experienced player now,“ team manager Oliver Bierhoff commented. "Philipp had a fantastic game," Bayern boss Ottmar Hitzfeld enthused on Thursday.

Earlier in the week, Germany supremo Joachim Löw asked Lahm if he was prepared for a crack at the central midfield role. The player accepted without hesitation. "It went well, but it's different. You probably play the ball more often as a full-back. And let's be clear about one thing: I'm stronger as a full-back. The coach is well aware of my abilities."

<b>Header off the line</b>

Löw was in full agreement: "Philipp Lahm will normally play at full back. Once our injured players return, that's where he'll be.“ Nevertheless, Wednesday evening saw Lahm emerge from nowhere as a viable stand-in for long-term injury victim Thorsten Frings.

The Bayern man's ability to tackle cleanly meant England were denied any of their favoured free-kick positions in front of goal. He provided the pass from which Christian Pander blasted Germany's winner, and crowned an outstanding display by heading a goalbound effort off the line in the closing phase.

<b>Gerland in the know</b>

Lahm has only filled the traditional number 6 berth for Bayern in the Bundesliga once, a 1-1 away draw with Hannover in February 2006, but in the club's U-19s and later in the reserves, central defensive midfield was not unknown territory for him.

"In training and in matches, Philipp proves he's an exceptional footballer. You never have to tell him a great deal,“ reserve coach Hermann Gerland revealed to <b></b>. "He instinctively knows what to do. You can field him on the left, the right or in the middle, he's equally strong everywhere. He's probably a good goalkeeper too, although I reckon he's too short for that," Gerland smiled on Thursday.

<b>Mature at 23</b>

Lahm, named at left-back in the 2006 World Cup All-Star Team, has recently performed with great credit for club and country at right-back, evidence of extraordinary versatility and all-round ability. The 23-year-old has also emerged as a role model and confidant for many of his younger team-mates.

"I'm happy with responsibility. If young players com to me with questions, I do my best to help,“ he reports. Despite all that, the armband he briefly received from Schneider had to be returned immediately after the match at Wembley: "In the dressing room, they all said to me I should put it back where it belongs."
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