Manuel Neuer has been appointed to replace Bastian Schweinsteiger as captain of Germany after the Manchester United midfielder bid farewell to Die Mannschaft in a friendly win over Finland on Wednesday (31 August). The emotional 2-0 victory at Borussia-Park in Monchengladbach was the 121st and final cap of a truly illustrious international career that began 12 years ago and also included a memorable World Cup triumph in 2014 before winding down with a semi-final defeat to hosts France at the recent European Championship.
That haul puts Schweinsteiger fourth on the all-time list of most-capped German footballers, behind only Lothar Matthaus, Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski. Revered Bayern Munich goalkeeper Neuer, meanwhile, has made 71 senior appearances for his country to date and donned the armband for all but one of Germany's matches at Euro 2016. His official reign as permanent skipper will begin on 4 September as Joachim Low's side kick off their qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup against Norway at Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo.
"I am proud to be captain of the team," the 30-year-old was quoted as saying by the German Football Association (DFB). "But we all know that we need to have more than one leader on the pitch if we want to be successful. Key aspects are discussed within the team council and we make decisions together.
"Of course I know that the captain's armband is important symbolically. I am pleased that the head coach has placed in trust in me by naming me as captain."
Low, who has been in charge of Germany for a decade, said of his decision: "With the national team, we are in a very good situation. We have a lot of leaders in the squad, all of whom would be highly capable as captain. For me, Manuel Neuer is the logical successor to Bastian Schweinsteiger. He has everything you can want from a captain.
"His achievements through his career are outstanding, he gives everything for the team and he is a model professional. He has exceptional qualities as a person. He takes full responsibility for himself and others, leads by example and always stays calm and composed. He is well regarded by the whole team and commands a great deal of respect. I know that he understands the duties that come with the role and expect that he will lead the players on and off the pitch."
While Schweinsteiger's international career has now officially drawn to a close, his club prospects remain gloomy. The 32-year-old, whose first season in English football following a high-profile switch from Bayern was plagued by persistent knee trouble, has been effectively ostracised from the first-team picture at Manchester United by manager Jose Mourinho and appears to have slipped behind even the club's academy players in the midfield pecking order.
Schweinsteiger, whose plight has drawn sympathy from his former club, is under contract for two more years and confirmed last month that United would be his last club in Europe. He also claims it is his "dream" to run out at Old Trafford again, although that seems highly unlikely without a dramatic shift in stance from Mourinho or potential involvement in the Europa League. With the summer transfer window now shut, a move to America's Major League Soccer (MLS) seems a likely outcome in January.