Dortmund, March 23 (IANS) Forward Lukas Podolski ended his long international football career in a fine style, scoring a tremendous goal to lead Germany to a 1-0 victory over England in a friendly here.
The 31-year-old on Wednesday boosted his goal total for Germany to 49 in 131 matches, including the side’s triumphant 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign, reports Efe.
Though the hosts ultimately prevailed, the English were the better side for much of the contest at the Signal Iduna Park against a German side stacked with younger players. Debutant Timo Werner, the RB Leipzig star, led an attacking unit of fellow youngsters Julian Brandt and Leroy Sané, as well as regular Podolski.
Apart from goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and the back line, Podolski and midfielder Toni Kroos were the only experienced internationals on the pitch for Germany. Kroos partnered with Borussia Dortmund youngster Julian Weigl in the midfield.
The home side faced the prospect of falling behind in the sixth minute as the referee mulled awarding a penalty for a foul by Ter Stegen against Jamie Vardy.
England’s first real chance came in the 31st minute, when Adam Lallana intercepted a poor pass by Joshua Kimmich and raced toward the German goal. Ter Stegen came out to cut down the angle and Lallana’s shot bounced harmlessly off the far post.
The German keeper had to be sharp 10 minutes later to turn aside a shot from point-blank range by Dele Alli.
While the Germans improved in the second, Ter Stegen was tested again, this time by a shot from Eric Dier.
It was only after Podolski’s strike in the 69th minute that German took control and saw out the match.
Podolski said that the atmosphere around the stadium was thrilling and it was a perfect scene in his final day in a Germany shirt.
“We won 1-0 and I scored the winner. It’s like a film. That could be my twelfth goal of the month. God or someone up there gifted me with this left foot, and I’ve always been able to rely on it,” Podolski told Germany football federation, DFB’s website.
“From the atmosphere in the stadium you could see the connection I have with people from Cologne. There were at least 30,000 people from Cologne (hometown) in the stadium. It gives you goose bumps. That’s when you know where you home is, and that you’ve done a lot of good, also off the pitch. That makes me very proud.”
In his 13-year career, Podolski earned the third most caps for his country and his 49 goals put him third in the goal-scoring list behind legends Miroslav Klose (71) and Gerd Mueller (68). He won the 2014 World Cup, came third in 2006 and 2010.
In his club career, he played for Cologne, Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Inter Milan and Galatasaray Istanbul. He won the German league and cup with Bayern Munich and the FA Cup with Arsenal.
With the end of Podolski’s career, an illustrious generation of German footballers is coming to en end as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose and Philipp Lahm have also retired.
Germany head coach Joachim Loew said: “I am very happy for Lukas. He has scored the decider in a prestigious encounter. Special players deserve a special farewell.
“However, we were very nervous in the first half but we improved our performance in the second half to snatch the win.”
On Sunday, Germany encounter Azerbaijan for the FIFA World Cup qualifier meanwhile England face Lithuania.