038. Lothar Matthäus
Lothar Matthäus is one of the most successful players ever in world football. He was born on March 21st 1961 in Erlangen and began his career in a local club called FC Herzogenaurach. As an 18 year old in 1979 he moved to Borussia Mönchengladbach one of greatest clubs in Europe at that time. It was in that club Matthäus started to show class and soon he was joining the German national team. He was in the squad who won the European Championship in 1980 and two years later he made his World Cup debut against Chile when he came on as a substitute in a game they won 4-1. West Germany reached the final that year, but Matthäus only took part in one other game, a substitute there as well, and didn’t achieve the loser’s medal in the final.
In 1984 he moved to Bayern Munich and helped them win the league twice and the cup once before participating in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. West Germany progressed through the rounds without making great impression. But Matthäus was having a good World Cup and scored the winner against Morocco in the round of 16. In the final itself, Matthäus was given a man-marking job on Maradona. But the little Argentinian had too many tricks up his sleeve as West Germany lost their second consecutive World Cup final.
By the time the World Cup was held in Italy in 1990, Matthäus was established in Inter Milan. He had led them to the Italian league title in 1989 and here he played most of his World Cup games on his home ground, Stadio San Siro. It was to be Matthäus best World Cup. Germany were by far the best team and Matthäus scored four goals from his midfield position. In the final in Rome, Argentina were once again the opponents, but this time neither Maradona or anyone else could stop Matthäus and Germany. He was voted European Player Of The Year that year and Player Of The Year in Germany as well.
He won honours in Europe with Inter Milan, before returning back to Germany and Bayern Munich. In 1994 he was supposed to be playing in his last World Cup, operating this time in the sweeper’s position. Germany were knocked out by Bulgaria in the quarterfinal and in the same game Matthäus joined Uwe Seeler, Wladislav Zmuda and Maradona as a record holder of most World Cup matches with 21. Against all odds he turned up in France 98 as a replacement for the injured sweeper Mattias Sammer.
Matthäus had been absent from the national side for years when Vogts brought him back into the squad for the World Cup. After being on the bench in Germany’s victory over USA, he came in as a substitute against Yugoslavia and set a new record for appearances in the World Cup with 22. He played in all the rest of Germany’s matches until Croatia knocked them out in the quarterfinal, making his total to 25.
He retired as a 39 year old following Germany’s awful Euro 2000 tournament. A year earlier he lost for Bayern Munich against Manchester United in a dramatic Champions League final. It was the only major trophy that eluded him.