The 36-year-old is one of the most decorated footballers in Germany having won some major honours including the Champions League and the FIFA World Cup.

The man with all trades – Bastian Schweinsteiger was a player every manager loved to have in his team. Apart from being versatile and tireless, Schweinsteiger was a fighter who would battle it out for his badge until the last whistle.

He played in different positions throughout his illustrious career and did justice to all of them. Schweinsteiger started as a wide-midfielder until Louis van Gaal transformed him into a central midfielder. Right at the fag end of his career he also played as a centre back in America for Chicago Fire.

He was such a vital cog for German football as a whole as, during his peak, the football over there blossomed. The era from 2012 to 2014 belong to Germany and Schweinsteiger played a huge role in it. He finally won the treble with Bayern in 2013 and the FIFA World Cup in 2014.

Schweinsteiger’s performance in the World Cup final against Argentina proves the kind of player he was. With blood dripping through his cheeks the midfielder from Bavaria kept putting those hard yards and breaking up play and initiating buildups from deep midfield.

His aura was such that even Lionel Messi was forced out to the flanks as he was given no space. Schweinsteiger that night also completed most passes than anyone on the field just because he could do it all at the same time.

Here are five iconic moments from his career:

1. First national team cap at the age of 19

Bastian Schweinsteiger was born in South of Bavaria and since the age of three, he was inclined towards football. He took up the sport seriously when he turned 14 and joined the Bayern youth program. Things changed from there as in late 2002, Schweinsteiger signed his first professional contract at the age of 18.

His career kick started from thereon as he was also called up to the German national team by the then head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Schweinsteiger made his debut at the age of 19 alongside his friend Lukas Podolski in a Euro championship warm-up game against Hungary way back in June 2004.

Germany lost that match 0-2 and then were eliminated from the group stage in the following Euros 2004 in Portugal.

2. Two goals against Portugal in the 2006 World Cup third-place match

Jurgen Klinsmann’s men lost out against eventual champions, Italy in the 2006 World Cup semi-final and were left to play against Portugal in the third-place playoff.

The match which hardly had any meaning to the world created a player of Bastian Schweinsteiger’s calibre. The youngster with flamboyant hair and attitude came up with two world class long-range goals to hand the Die Mannschaft a clinical 3-1 win over Portugal. It marked the beginning of Schweinsteiger as a player who could score goals and later in his career even as a centre midfielder he often took the mantle of scoring goals.

3. Conversion from a wide midfielder to a centre midfielder

Apart from being flamboyant with his hairstyles, he was often caught for disciplinary issues. He was that youngster who needed someone to fall back. In 2009 when Van Gaal took the charge of Bayern he opted Schweinsteiger to play as a centre midfielder after looking at his personality and also the team was filled with wide players and there was no space for him.

It was a new challenge for him as he slowly adapted to the new role. However to be a centre midfielder one needs to be reliable, disciplined and consistent and Schweinsteiger hardly had any of the traits in his repertoire. But Schweinsteiger brought a change in his attitude towards the sport. Schweinsteiger in an interview said that he was grateful to Van Gaal to change his position as he enjoyed more of the ball.

4. Long awaited UEFA Champions League title with Bayern

The Champions League trophy has been a bittersweet memory for him. After toiling long and hard, he inspired Bayern to cross the finishing line against Borussia Dortmund. Before that, the Bavarians were denied the trophy on two occasions, first against Inter in 2010 and Chelsea in 2012 as they lost the final both the times.

Schweinsteiger was not the best player for Bayern in the finale, that would be Manuel Neuer but the midfielder was instrumental throughout their season. But as Jupp Heynckes said about him, “Bastian was the soul and the heart of the team. He did everything for the team, not for himself.”

5. World Cup 2014 triumph with Germany

Probably the biggest day in his career, Schweinsteiger stood out and went all guns blazing. Wearing his heart at his sleeves, the midfielder delivered a performance of his life and for generations ahead to witness his greatness.

Bruised, bloodied yet the wild child from Bavaria became the reliable man that day for Germany. He did not allow Lionel Messi to make things happen from the middle, where he would be most dangerous. Rather the Argentine superstar had to shift wide and failed to have the desired impact on the game.

He stood out there as an example for centre midfielders of the next generation to follow. The final result on that night was like a feeling of accomplishment for Schweinsteiger after repeated heartbreaks in career.

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