Youth movement lifts Germany to 3rd place
Early yesterday, Seoul time, Schweinsteiger, a starter against Portugal in the third place match, scored the first and third goals in Italy’s 3-1 win. He also had a hand on the second when his free kick was deflected in, off the leg of Portugal substitute Petit.
“We had to forget about Italy,” Schweinsteiger, 21, told Reuters. “It’s special to get two goals in the World Cup. What’s important is the whole team played well.”
He left the match in the 79th minute, one minute after scoring his second goal, to a standing ovation from fans in Gottlieb-Damlier Stadium in Stuttgart.
Schweinsteiger later expressed optimism for what he feels is a bright future for German soccer.
“Everything is fitting so well together, and the players are all happy about the way things are running,” he told Reuters. “Just think about how close we were to making it to the final.”
Germany has reason to hope. Besides Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski, a 21-year-old striker, had three goals in the tournament and was named the winner of the inaugural Best Young Player award. Midfielder David Odonkor, 22, was the spark plug off the bench, offering speed down the right wing.
Portugal also got strong play from youngsters. Cristiano Ronaldo, 21, was a candidate for the Best Young Player honors, and has been touted as a torchbearer of the younger generation of Portuguese players. Defender Miguel and forward Simao Sabrosa, both 26, who had a goal and an assist, each showed off offensive talents.
Both nations also bid farewells to veterans.
German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, winner of the Golden Ball for most valuable player in the 2002 World Cup, but relegated to a backup role this year to Jens Lehmann, played his only game in the tournament yesterday. Kahn announced his retirement from international play immediately afterward.
“This was my last game for the national team,” the 37-year-old veteran told The Associated Press. “It was a beautiful time but you have to know when it’s over.”
Kahn received an ovation when he ran onto the pitch for the warmup, and the first cross he caught had the crowd chanting his name. He later called the match “one of the biggest emotional moments I can remember.”
Kahn is a three-time winner of the world’s best goalkeeper award, presented by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics.
However, when coach Juergen Klinsmann took over in 2004, he stripped Kahn of the captaincy in favor of midfielder Michael Ballack. The goalkeeper then lost his starting spot to his understudy Lehmann.
But Klinsmann decided to start Kahn for the third place match, and praised the goalkeeper’s handling of his trying periods.
“It’s unbelievable how he dealt with that,” Klinsmann told Reuters. “I can only speak about Oliver with the greatest respect.
Kahn came within two minutes of getting a shutout. But a Portuguese goal set up by another legend wrapping up his international career prevented Kahn’s storybook ending.
Luis Figo, Portugal’s captain, assisted Nuno Gomes with a cross for the team’s lone score in the 88th minute. Figo, 33, didn’t start the game, the first time he began a match on the bench at this year’s World Cup, but entered the game in the 77th minute.
Figo said this World Cup would be his final international tournament.
“It’s hard to end our tournament like this, but the defeat doesn’t erase what Portugal has done in Germany,” Figo told The Associated Press. “I feel satisfied and glad with the way things have turned out overall. We’re still one of the best four teams in the world.”
Though Figo failed to lead his charge to match the nation’s highest World Cup showing, third place at the 1966 tournament in England, he had a strong tournament. Figo played 127 international games for Portugal, the most in the nation’s history. On the other hand, fellow 33-year-old Pauleta, who issued a retirement call of his own, concluded what has otherwise been a solid career with disappointment.
Portugal’s all-time leading scorer with 47 goals in 87 matches, Pauleta ended the German World Cup with one goal, which came in the fourth minute of the team’s first match versus Angola. He was ineffective against France, and was once again goalless against Germany.
Pauleta told reporters in Stuttgart, “Everything has a beginning and an end. This is my end.”
Later, head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari told Reuters that, “Pauleta is part of a group. When he scored goals in the qualifiers, he was part of a group then as well.”
Scolari also praised Klinsmann, saying, “I was also really pleased to see how Juergen Klinsmann’s stock has risen in Germany. I am one of his greatest admirers.”
But Klinsmann himself was too emotional to properly discuss the tournament.
“So many things have happened to us, and I need a few days to myself now,” he told the World Cup Web site. “I am overwhelmed. I can hardly come to terms with it all.”
by Yoo Jee-ho