Out on Top

For German Soccer Team Captain, Key to Success Is Knowing When to Leave

APTOPIX Brazil Soccer WCup Germany Argentina
Captain Phillip Lahm hosts the World Cup after the German win in Brazil on July 13, 2014. Lahm announced days after the win that he is retiring as captain.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany won its fourth World Cup this year in Brazil, beating Argentina 1-0 in overtime. Captain Phillip Lahm announced shortly after the win that he is retiring as team captain. He explains why.

  • Facts


    • Mr. Lahm has had his share of losses — including a humiliating defeat on home turf in two years ago when his professional team, FC Bayern Munich, lost to FC Chelsea in the Champions League.
    • In hindsigh that was one of the games that affected him the most. You often learn as much or more from losses than wins.
    • The younger members of the national team should pick a new leader. Mr. Lahm wants to concentrate on his work this Bavarian club.
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I’ll never forget the moment I held up the World Cup trophy in Maracanã Stadium. Slowly, I realized that we had done it, that all the concentration and hard work had paid off. Suddenly the pressure was gone. Basti, Miro, Per, Thomas and Manuel came over and thanked me from the bottom of their hearts, and that meant a lot to me. I don’t get so caught up in the moment that I forget everything else, but being the world champion feels absolutely amazing.

But I don’t want to fool myself. I know the other side of the coin, the disappointment that takes hold when you can’t quite give it your all at a key moment. Losing affects you at least as strongly as winning. I don’t do things halfway. Some say it’s one of my biggest strengths, but I think it’s completely normal. Unfortunately, giving it your all only makes the disappointment worse when you don’t achieve what you’ve set out to do.


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