Schurrle: Texts from idol Ballack spur me on

The Chelsea forward says he is in regular contact with his former Bayer Leverkusen team-mate and is targeting World Cup glory with Germany
By Greg Stobart in Rio de Janeiro

Andre Schurrle has revealed how tips and text messages from his idol Michael Ballack have helped him and Germany reach the semi-finals of the World Cup.

Schurrle and his team-mates are just one game from the final after beating France at the Maracana on Friday, and he is hoping to go one better than Ballack, who led Germany to the World Cup final in 2002.

Schurrle was an 11-year-old schoolboy watching on television as Ballack scored the winning goal in Germany's semi-final victory over South Korea, shortly after picking up the yellow card that kept him out of the final, which they lost to Brazil.

Schurrle went on to spend one season at Bayer Leverkusen alongside Ballack before following in his footsteps by playing for Chelsea and the German national team, and now they are close friends.

“I am in touch with him all the time,” said Schurrle.

“He texts me before every game to wish me luck, and then after the games he sends another message congratulating me. He helps me a lot by giving me tips and that helps in these situations.”

Schurrle says his favourite World Cup memories are from 2002. “I was watching it on television at home with my family, starting to love football. Ballack was amazing in that tournament.”

And Schurrle revealed how he started supporting Chelsea when Ballack moved to London in 2006.

“He was my idol. When he played at Chelsea I watched every match," Schurrle said. "I then had the pleasure to play in the same side as him at Bayer Leverkusen. That was big for me, it helped me a lot. He is a key figure in my career and I hope I can follow in his footsteps.”

Now Schurrle wants to help Germany go all the way in Brazil as they prepare for their semi-final clash against the hosts in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday.

He added: “We want to go to the final and win the title, that was our goal from the beginning. It is going to be tough. But it doesn't matter who we play, we look at ourselves and how we play.

“We have this feeling. We are really close, and we all feel we have a big chance to win the World Cup. In the last few years we have come close in tournaments but now we want to win it.”