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Friday 22 September 2017

Low pulls out all the stops for Podolski

Lukas Podolski
Lukas Podolski

If sporting careers, like political ones, tend to end in failure then nobody told Germany's Lukas Podolski, who was afforded a hero's farewell in Dortmund yesterday.

Having announced his retirement after Euro 2016, the 31-year-old was ready to end his long association with the national side on a low-key note before heading to Japan to play out his autumn years.

But Joachim Low had no intention of letting the country's third-highest goalscorer - he has netted 48 times in 129 appearances - depart without a lap of honour and summoned him for one last cap against old rivals England tonight.

Podolski took his place beside Low at a pre-match press conference at the German Football Museum, an adieu as respectful and good-humoured as any player could hope for, and looked on in surprise as a big screen beamed a tribute montage in his honour to a packed auditorium.

"It's been 13 wonderful and awesome years.

"I'm very proud," he said bashfully, after watching the compilation.

"It's hard not to get into a melancholy mood when I think about going into the dressing room for the last time, seeing my kit for the last time, warming up for the last time. But I look back with pride having come to Germany from Poland at two-and-a-half. It's a fantastic thing to happen to anyone."

There was more.

Asked by a journalist if Podolski would be honoured with the captain's armband at a sold out Westfalenstadion, Low nodded his assent before adding, "no question".

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