Philipp Lahm has never won the most prestigous individual award in football
The world’s highest paid coach (by some margin) Pep Guardiola remarked once – “Philipp Lahm is perhaps the most intelligent player I have ever trained in my career. He is at another level.”
Guardiola suggested that if Lahm played at any position for a year, he would be amongst the best in the world, at that position. This came from a coach who had managed Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Henry, Ibrahamovic and Puyol, among others.
Phillip Lahm led Bayern Munich in 2012-2013 season with five trophies and found his name in the UEFA team of the year. Yet, he wasn’t considered for the prestigious Ballon D’or.
The Ballon D’Or committee in fact extended the voting dates to cash in on a Ronaldo performance (of all things, in a world cup playoff game) and subsequently (and perhaps farcically) handed the trophy to the Portuguese – in a year when he won nothing! Lahm polled 14th that year with a meagre 0.82% of the votes.
Having been inarguably the world’s best full backs of his generation (left or right), one of the best defensive midfielders, and an equally effective winger or central midfielder (whenever the need arose), Lahm still doesn’t find his name being discussed amongst the Ballon D’Or 2013-2014 hopefuls either.
He led Germany to their first ever World Cup win by an European team in the South Americas, found his name in FIFA World Cup all star team, led Bayern Munchen to the Bundesliga and DFB Pokal titles, but he is most likely to feature in the top five Ballon D’Or list more as a consolation based on the sentimentality surrounding his international retirement.
Lahm’s importance was underlined to the world, when soon after his retirement, Germany were thrashed at home by Argentina, then huffed to a win over Scotland, lost at Poland and drew at home to Republic of Ireland to complete Die Mannschaft’s worst two months in international football since mid 2006.
Incidentally Lahm was also selected in the FIFA World Cup All-Star team in 2006 and FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2010 – in both instances Germany made it to the semi-finals of the event.
Add their finalist status in Euro 2008, last four in Euro 2012 and Bayern Munich reaching finals of UEFA Champions League 2010 and 2012, and you wonder why no German made it to even the top three of Ballon D’or or FIFA world player of the year in the past six years.
Defenders not ‘fashionable’ enough for Ballon d’Or
Another top candidate to grace the same teams, Manuel Neuer, does have a point when he suggested recently that he wasn’t fashionable enough to win the award ahead of players who have a ‘red-carpet lifestyle’. While the oft-repeated logic is that defence wins titles, it’s strange why defenders or goal custodians aren’t considered for the greatest individual honour in football.
The last defender to be named in the top three was Fabio Cannavaro (2006) who went on to eventually win it after leading his nation to an unexpected World cup win. The last German to be present in the top three shortlist was Oliver Kahn in 2002 and the last German to win it was Lothar Matthaus, way back in 1991.
Phillip Lahm also comes across as an ideal role model for upcoming generations to follow – versatile to play at any position, equally good in defense and attack, captain of two of the best club and country teams football has ever seen, a life with zero controversies on and off the field, no misconduct charges and a defender who received a meagre 37 yellow cards over a career spanning 505 games for club and country, at the highest level.
That’s one yellow card in every 14 games and zero career red cards! Probably he is the most ‘liked’ player of his generation. Seldom has a football fan, player or expert have anything bad to say about Lahm.
Never has a footballing legend and a perfect role model been snubbed so badly by UEFA and FIFA. It will be gross injustice if Lahm were to finish his career without having ever won the most prized individual award in football.