A flawless full-back who also excelled in midfield, Bayern great Philipp Lahm made up for two final defeats in three seasons by lifting the UEFA Champions League at Wembley Stadium in 2013.
Winner (Bayern, 2013)
If you don’t remember him …
Following a two-season loan spell at Stuttgart early in his career, Lahm was a key figure in every Bayern incarnation from 2005 until his 2017 retirement, sporting the armband from 2011. The Munich native was near-peerless at full-back, at first on the left and then the right, where he struck up a particularly good understanding with Arjen Robben, who cut inside while Lahm overlapped.
Lahm captained Bayern to the treble in 2012/13, including a UEFA Champions League final triumph against domestic rivals Borussia Dortmund, before Josep Guardiola arrived in Munich, promptly redeploying the full-back as a central midfielder. The Munich native thrived there too, inspiring Germany to 2014 FIFA World Cup glory before retiring three years later with an honours list that also included the UEFA Super Cup, a record eight Bundesliga titles and six German Cups.
How he made it to 100 appearances
After a brief outing from the bench for Bayern in late 2002, Lahm’s first competition start came for Stuttgart against Manchester United the following season, the loanee setting up the first goal in VfB’s 2-1 home win.
With their dependable full-back on board again, record German champions Bayern reached the quarter-finals in 2007 and 2009, before losing to Internazionale in the Madrid final in 2010, a campaign in which Lahm played every minute.
Lahm missed just one game (rested) in 2011/12 as Bayern reached the final at home, losing to Chelsea on penalties, and was a regular as Bayern became a permanent presence in the latter stages of the competition, lifting the trophy in 2013 and reaching three successive semi-finals under Guardiola.
The ‘Magic Dwarf’ made his final outing at Real Madrid in 2017, appropriately in the city where he played seven times in the competition, second only to Munich; Lahm concluded his career as the outfield player with the most appearances never to score a UEFA Champions League goal.
His best moments
- Lifting the trophy in 2013 after final defeats by Inter and Chelsea in two of the previous three seasons. Those heartbreaks meant Bayern were under “unbelievable pressure”, as Lahm put it, but the right-back was outstanding as the Bavarians beat Dortmund. Lahm later cited the defeat by Chelsea the season prior as crucial to the Wembley triumph, saying: “After that match, a team can either fall apart completely or it can grow closer together. We chose the latter.”
Bayern inflicted Roma’s heaviest European home defeat in October 2014, Guardiola’s side cantering to a 7-1 triumph in the Eternal City. Playing in central midfield, Lahm was at the hub of everything his side did, creating Robben’s opening goal and initiating his side’s numerous attacks throughout; little wonder Guardiola called him “the most intelligent footballer I have ever coached”.
On his full UEFA Champions League debut in October 2003, Lahm helped Stuttgart to a 2-1 success against a Manchester United side that included Cristiano Ronaldo, Roy Keane, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Paul Scholes. Playing at left-back, Lahm not only kept Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs quiet, but also set up the first goal for Imre Szabics. “After only three months [at Stuttgart], he was the best player on the pitch against Manchester United, so Alex Ferguson wanted to sign him,” recalled former Bayern youth-team coach Hermann Gerland.
What others said about him
“Philipp Lahm has outstanding qualities. He’s not the biggest, but he’s still supreme. He’d get into any team in the world. He’s not a machine – Weber, Schulz, Höttges in my day, they were machines. Philipp Lahm is an artist.”
Carlos Alberto, former Brazil captain and right-back
“One of the reasons for my success at Bayern is the relationship with Philipp Lahm; he helped me a lot from the beginning. He always performs. I have never seen Philipp have a poor match. He will always be a special person in my life, and he is an absolute legend. Philipp Lahm is the most intelligent footballer I have ever coached.”
Josep Guardiola, former Bayern coach
“Philipp is the perfect professional who will give everything to be successful. He was always a key person for me to discuss ideas with. For almost ten years, Philipp Lahm provided consistency, reliability and the highest standards in the national side. He has a natural authority, takes on responsibility, is communicative and a natural leader.”
Joachim Löw, Germany coach
“Philipp was a top-class professional. He played at a very high level and was a guarantee in terms of both performance and attitude. He goes into German history as a great footballer.”
Jupp Heynckes, former Bayern coach
“He is definitely in Bayern’s team of the century. He’s on a level with the greats. He was on time, hard-working, always trained outstandingly and never complained about any player, not back then and not now as a superstar.”
Hermann Gerland, Bayern athletic director
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