The Legacy of Lothar Matthäus

A Lothar Matthäus will not be defeated by his body, a Lothar Matthäus will decide his fate himself.

Servus and welcome to the Notes app on my phone; the most disorganised dumpster fire to exist. Amidst an astounding variety of mess with notes to self, test scores, stuff that I thought was funny and post-match reviews that are mostly just me joking around, there was an idea to bring together a group of- no, that’s from the Avengers movie.

Let’s try this again. There was an idea to write an article about a certain German great who might just be the most complete player to have every played football. The greatest defensive midfielder of all time, a player I would like to emulate if I ever played. A player boasting a trophy case that is so huge that I can’t type every single one of the mentioned trophies, this man ist einfach ein Phänomen.

So, if you haven't already gotten the hint yet, this article is about Lothar Matthäus.

While the word legend is being thrown around casually off the late, in Matthäus’ case, it couldn’t be far from the truth. One of the biggest names in German football for decades, because of his impressive stints at BMG, Inter, Bayern and West Germany, the Ballon d'Or winning box-to-box midfielder (and deep-lying playmaker and sweeper) had been nothing short of magical on the pitch. When you think of a player that is highly regarded by the public, it’s because the player in question has impressive stats, a monumental presence on pitch, a sheer will to win and sometimes, an insane work rate and a very good work ethic. Matthäus was all of this and he made it look effortless. Even the late Argentine great Diego Maradona has gone as far as to name Matthäus the toughest opponent he’s ever faced. To put things simply, there are very few footballers (if not none) that can compete with this genius.

Often enough when one speaks of Matthäus and his career, it’s often canonised with the longevity of his career. In reality, this forms only a very small part of the legendary tale. In my opinion (and that of several others), Matthäus’s career is more about his attitude on pitch, his insane goalscoring ability (this man can literally score using anything and from anywhere), his leadership skills, the trophy collection he has amassed over the years, the way he revamped the game, and of course, the more technical aspects of his game. He was defensive enough to play as a holding midfielder, he was quick, strong, and elusive and could make runs into the box, and he may have been only 1.74m but that never deterred his aerial abilities. And have you seen this man take set pieces? Absolutely lethal from the spot.

When I was first introduced to Lothar, as a relatively new Bayern fan, my only thought was, "I mean, this Bayern squad is nice BUT WHERE DO I FIND THIS LOTHAR GUY- HE IS SO GOOD". And if you’re someone that has lived under a rock, and you feel like I am maybe overexaggerating, here’s a little homework I suggest you do; watch his games with West Germany. That’s all I shall say. Oh, and did you know he’s the most capped German player of all time, with 150 caps?

1990’s Germany team (read: West Germany) was arguably one of the best teams that the country boasted. After long years of uncertainty and lack of purpose, Germany suddenly turned into a force to be reckoned with. Matthäus stood out as a clear leader, even amongst the team of natural leaders like Klaus Augenthaler, Jürgen Klinsmann and Rudi Völler. He shone as a fearsome, gargantuan defensive leader with intelligence and charisma. His style of football remains iconic- smart, efficient, rapid, and rational. Though egotistical and hated by many, it was undeniable that Matthäus knew what he was doing. And he did it with perfection.

When you look at teams across the world, you rarely ever see such polarising leaders such as Matthäus, or Franz "der Kaiser" Beckenbauer, or Oliver "der Titan" Kahn. Even after they left, a new era was heralded by the likes of Matthias Sammer and Phillip Lahm. Germany was lucky to have an amazing leader in Lahm, who unlike his predecessors, was modest, quiet, and did not boast much of a physical presence like them and yet such a crucial leader for die Mannschaft. While Manuel Neuer and Thomas Müller are charismatic and likeable leaders, they do not possess the tremendous presence or the leadership skills of their predecessors.

Germany, once a nation boasting teams of fearless leaders that inspired terror in the hearts of opposition teams, has now been reduced to status of a country with a team of underdogs. Thus, I believe that a player like Matthäus is of utmost need. Modern football does not have such disciplined and efficient players of his calibre. Matthäus was a special leader because he aimed to play and lead with the dedication of his predecessors and adapt to the new world of football where freedom was king. I am not trying to be a killjoy that refuses to trust the abilities of the present generation of German footballers. Rather I feel that a player like him would take us to new heights and help make Germany a dominating presence in world football. That would certainly be a sight to see.

Thanks for reading.

(P.S: list of trophies and honours can be found in Wikipedia, look it up yourself, don’t be lazy)

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