Lukas Podolski was celebrated for his remarkable Germany career as he came out of international retirement for one last game, captaining his nation and scoring the winner in Wednesday’s 1-0 friendly win against England in Dortmund.
The 31-year-old Galatasaray forward was honoured by the German Football Association (DFB) in similar fashion to that received by Bastian Schweinsteiger against Finland in August. And with perfect timing Podolski marked the occasion tonight by scoring his 49th international goal in stunning style with a ferocious shot from outside the box in the 69th minute.
Podolski, who was substituted to a huge ovation in the 85th minute, said: “We won 1-0 and I scored, this is like in a movie! God or someone has given me this left foot, which I could always trust.””
We celebrate the former Köln, Bayern München and Internazionale Milano – and future Vissel Kobe – striker’s Germany career, which included a 2014 FIFA World Cup win plus five other major finals or semi-finals, plus we have the best of the photos from his international farewell.
Germany’s most-capped players
1 Lothar Matthäus 150 caps
2 Miroslav Klose 137
3 Lukas Podolski 130
Germany’s all-time leading scorers
1 Miroslav Klose 71 goals
2 Gerd Müller 68
3 Lukas Podolski 49
(stats include West Germany but not East Germany)
Podolski, 31, made his senior international debut under Rudi Völler in June 2004 and took part in seven major tournaments, his final outing competitive outing coming as a substitute in the UEFA EURO 2016 win against Slovakia.
Podolski’s top five moments for Germany
The Polish-born Podolski first featured in a Germany shirt at Under-17 level before receiving a late call-up to the UEFA EURO 2004 squad. His first goals came later that year, against Thailand, and he thrilled fans with fine performances at the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup, registering three times in four games.
Best Young Player at 2006 FIFA World Cup
During the ‘Summer Tale’ that saw Germany reach the semi-finals on home soil, Podolski was part of a formidable forward line alongside Miroslav Klose. He scored three goals and was named the tournament’s best young player ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Double against Poland
Germany’s opening game at UEFA EURO 2008 was a memorable one for Podolski. Coming up against his country of birth, the forward scored both goals in a 2-0 victory on their way to the final. “Of course I had mixed emotions,” he said after the game. “A large part of my family lives in Poland so this was a very important moment for me.”
Youngest German to reach 100 caps
Podolski was only 27 years and 13 days when he made his 100th appearance for Germany, during UEFA EURO 2012. He marked the occasion with a goal against Denmark. “When I started in 2004 I never thought I would get to this moment,” he said. “It’s simply incredible.”
The ‘Prince’, as they call him in his beloved home town of Cologne, struggled to make the team in the latter years of his international career but Löw never doubted his value to the squad. Podolski crowned his career with the ultimate title – the 2014 FIFA World Cup, having fallen at the semis in 2006 and 2010.
Podolski’s farewell in photos