Wednesday, in Mönchengladbach, a nation said goodbye to a hero.
For the final time, Bastian Schweinsteiger donned the colors of his nation and lined up for the national anthem. Of course, there was a celebration of Schweinsteiger’s retirement before kickoff, and he gave a brief speech. There were tears in his eyes and in the eyes of people watching all over the globe. This was it.
#dankeBasti pic.twitter.com/zY1cVtRTx1— DW Sports (@dw_sports) August 31, 2016
The match itself was inconsequential. It was just a friendly against Finland, and the stadium was a little more than half full. (If you’d like to watch the full match highlights, the DFB has you covered.) Throughout the match though, his every touch was cheered. Loud and long “Basti!” chants regularly rang out.
When Jogi Löw sent Julian Weigl to midfield around the 66th minute, a buzz started going around the stadium. The moment had come. It was time for Bastian to go.
With his trademark smile on his face, Schweinsteiger departed the field for the final time. He applauded the fans on his way out as they showed their love and appreciation for his years of service. Schweinsteiger reached the sideline, gave Weigl a hug, and sent the young man onto the field.
Twelve years. One hundred and twenty one appearances. Twenty four goals.
One World Cup.
That last one is why Schweinsteiger will be forever remembered as one of the greatest ever. Nobody will forget watching him pulling Germany to victory over Argentina at the famous Maracanã. With blood pouring down his face, Schweinsteiger would not be denied. His performance in Rio de Janeiro will go down in history as one of the greatest ever. Germany was proud. The world recognized greatness.
Now, two years later and with nothing left to give, Schweinsteiger knows that it’s time to step aside completely and let the younger players do their thing.
His time is up. Their time is now.
Thanks for everything!— Basti Schweinsteiger (@BSchweinsteiger) August 31, 2016
It was a great honor for me. pic.twitter.com/aPSWMJzb6x
Editor’s Note: I’d like to personally apologize to our readers for failing to recognize that this match was actually taking place on Wednesday. I dropped the ball with our coverage. I apologize. Thanks. -Phillip Quinn