Timing of Philipp Lahm's retirement catches Bayern Munich by surprise
Philipp Lahm, one of the most decorated German players ever, will retire at the end of the season, he announced on Tuesday, confirming an earlier report from Sport BILD.
Lahm, 33, captained Germany to the 2014 World Cup title and captained Bayern Munich to the 2013 Champions League title. He just passed the 500-match milestone with Bayern and is signed through the end of next season, though he won't be playing out his contract. In addition to the Champions League trophy, Lahm has won seven Bundesliga titles and six German Cups.
Lahm was reportedly offered a sporting director position by Bayern Munich but turned it down. The timing of Lahm's retirement evidently caught Bayern by surprise. The club released the following statement from CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge:
"FC Bayern München is surprised by the approach of Philipp Lahm and his adviser. Uli Hoeness and I have held open, intensive and constructive talks with Philipp in recent months about a possible position as sporting director of our club. At the end of last week, he informed us that he is currently not available for such a position and that he would like an early termination of his player contract, which runs until June 2018, at the end of the current season.
"Until yesterday we assumed that there would be a joint announcement on this decision by Philipp Lahm and FC Bayern München. Philipp Lahm has been an important player for FC Bayern München for over a decade. We are convinced that our captain will now concentrate fully with the team on the tough upcoming tasks in the Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB Cup. We would like to make clear that the door will always remain open for Philipp at FC Bayern München.”
Regardless, Lahm is moving on after a storied career.
Manager Pep Guardiola famously called Lahm the "most intelligent" player he ever coached, and heavily credited Lahm, a versatile right back and central midfielder under Guardiola, for Bayern's success during his time there.
"One of the reasons for my success at Bayern is the relationship with Philipp Lahm; he helped me a lot from the beginning," Guardiola said. "He always performs. I have never seen Philipp have a poor match. He will always be a special person in my life, and he is an absolute legend. Philipp Lahm is the most intelligent footballer I have ever coached."
Germany's youngest World Cup captain ever when he wore the armband as a 26-year-old in 2010, Lahm had 113 caps and five goals for the national team.