The Bayern Munich legend feels the 30-year-old could have won 150 caps for his country and was shocked by his decision to quit the international team after World Cup gloryEXCLUSIVE
By Seth Vertelney
Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer believes Philipp Lahm may come to regret his decision to retire from international duty.
The 30-year-old captained Joachim Low's side to World Cup glory in Brazil this summer and announced his decision to stand down from the national team shortly afterwards.
Beckenbauer, who won the tournament as both skipper and coach, admits he was shocked by the Bayern Munich captain's decision, but is confident he will be welcomed back with open arms if he changes his mind.
"I was surprised as everybody else when he announced his retirement," he told Goal.
"I thought he would break all the records, for example Lothar Matthaus' 150 caps. He is an extraordinary player, who can play in many positions.
"It's a pity for the national team. I hope he doesn't regret it. But if he does, he can come back."
Beckenbauer went on to voice his belief that Germany's decade of near misses in major tournaments meant it was their turn to taste success.
"It was Germany's turn, you could feel it. At the last World Cup, they were lacking the experience you need for a major tournament like that.
"But the team grew closer together in the four years since. The recipe for success was teamwork. Germany performed best in Brazil and so won the title deservedly."
Germany failed to make a positive impression at the 1998 World Cup and the European Championship in 2000 and Beckenbauer revealed that they took inspiration from France, who won both tournaments.
"Basically, we looked at how France did it. Every professional club had to have a youth academy before the 1998 World Cup. And from there, great players were developed.
"We took that system and developed it. To recognise the best talents early and work from with them intensively is the only way to have success in the long run.
"The athletic part is the focus, but you cannot neglect education. I believe this model could be a route to success for other countries too."