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Danke Poldi: A Tribute to Koln's King

Written by: Srinivasan

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The King of Cologne said farewell to the international scene with a goal worth remembering. . . 

The Germans are never a race that profers titles upon players with ease. The likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller, Michael Ballack and Miroslav Klose earned their nicknames from fans after putting in one impressive performance after another. Lukas Podolski is another addition to that list. Fondly called Prince Poldi, the Polish-born German international called time on his international career at the age of 31, a time when footballers usually are at the peak of their form.

Podolski, however, had other ideas. A member of Germany’s now famed youth system which has been a conveyor belt of talent for the national team, Podolski was the forefront of Jurgen Klinsmann and subsequently, Joachim Loew’s revamp of Die Mannschaft’s playing style from a mechanical approach to a fluid passing and counter-attacking machine. Having started off as a central striker, he was shifted to the left-hand side of a 4-2-3-1, a formation that is used by nearly every team in the Bundesliga.

 

Podolski's goal against England in the friendly on Wednesday summed up his career; effective and powerful in very small space of time

Podolski’s pace, ability to dribble and a bazooka of a left foot was crucial in Germany’s presence in the attacking third. His presence would stretch the play for the likes of Michael Ballack, Torsten Frings, Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos and Mario Gotze to weave their magic on the opposition.

Starting off his career with FC Koln in 2003, Poldi went on to make 169 appearances for The Billy Goats spread across 2 spells and found the net 79 times for his hometown club. Spells at Bayern Munich and Arsenal only highlighted the German’s class before a forgettable spell with Inter Milan paved his way to the Turkish league where he joined Galatasaray. Poldi endeared himself to the fans who saw him as one of their own, not something that comes along often when you have only played for the club less than 50 times.

Making his debut at Euro 2004 under Rudi Voller, Podolski made a solitary appearance in the tournament coming for Torsten Frings in the match against the Czechs. He was a regular feature in the 2006 World Cup, Euro 2008, 2010 World Cup, Euro 2012, 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 where his presence was of much value in Germany’s performance in these tournaments. Despite his limited appearances in the victorious 2014 World Cup campaign, Podolski remained very much an integral cog in Loew’s master plan for the country’s national team.

Despite his limited appearances in the victorious 2014 World Cup campaign, Podolski remained very much an integral cog in Loew’s master plan for the country’s national team.

Podolski was key to German plans at the 2014 World Cup. His jersey number suggests his importance

Such was his effect on the national side that coach Loew even assured him that a transfer from Bayern to Koln would not affect his chances in the team. This has not been an unfamiliar situation for the Germans where club form does not decide the national team spot.

It is hardly believable that Podolski is only 31 having seemed like he has been around forever. Such has been his influence in the team from an early age that Loew has never shied away from picking Prince Poldi in his tournament squads. He is only behind the legendary Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose in the number of times he has pulled on the famed Black and White of Germany.

Having signed off in trademark fashion with a sumptuous left-footed shot in the 1-0 win over England, Poldi will now move to Japan to continue his club career there with Vissel Kobe. He has given football fans around the world much to cheer about and they will surely miss those bullets he unleashed with his left foot, aptly named Der Hammer.

Published: Fri Mar 24, 2017 02:21 PM IST

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