BERLIN: Germany’s 2014 World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger on Tuesday announced his retirement at the age of 35, following the end of the American MLS season, ending an 18-year professional career.

Schweinsteiger, who has played for Chicago Fire since 2017, is among the most decorated German footballers, having won many titles with Germany’s Bayern Munich and the national team. He is married to former tennis player Ana Ivanovic.

A midfielder, Schweinsteiger played for Bayern Munich from 2002 to 2015, winning eight league titles, seven German Cups and the 2013 Champions League with the dominant Bundesliga team.

He then had a brief stint at Manchester United from 2015-17 before joining Chicago Fire in the United States.

Schweinsteiger also earned 121 caps for Germany, scoring 24 goals and crowning his international career with the 2014 World Cup victory in Brazil.

“Dear Fans, the time has now come, and I will be finishing my active career at the end of this season,” Schweinsteiger said in a statement posted on social media.

“I would like to thank both, you and my teams @fcbayern, @ manchesterunited, @chicagofire and @dfb_team [German national team]. You made this unbelievable time possible for me!

“Saying goodbye as an active player makes me feel a little nostalgic, but I am also looking forward to the exciting challenges that await me soon. I will remain faithful to football.”

Shortly before Tuesday’s announcement on social media by Schweinsteiger, Germany coach Joachim Loew said the midfielder could join his coaching staff.

“We will always have a place for him,” said Loew in Dortmund where Germany are preparing to host Argentina in a friendly on Wednesday.

“I don’t know what his plans are,” he said, adding “any player who has ever played in the national team, and has the goal of being a coach, is always welcome here to get a taste of what it’s like.”

Schweinsteiger’s former national team-mate Miroslav Klose was briefly part of Loew’s coaching staff, as a forwards coach, until last year’s World Cup.

Loew heaped praise on Schweinsteiger, who helped inspire a 1-0 extra-time victory over Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final despite a cut under his right eye.

“Everyone has a picture of him in their heads: blood-stained in the Maracana [in the 2014 World Cup final], he got up again and again and gave everything.

“He is one of the greatest players in German history,” enthused Loew. “You could always feel his will to win. He was a great player and a great personality.”

Published in Dawn, October 9th, 2019

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