It is rare that the football gods create a player so good and complete that we struggle to pick up on any flaws in his game, character or on and off the field.
Well, the mold was well and truly broken when they made the Philipp Lahm. The German star celebrates his birthday today, November 11, and as he turns 36, we think it’s only fitting to pay tribute to one of the most reliable and consistent footballers in recent history.
A young Philipp Lahm in action for Byrne / Torsten Sills / Getty Images
Coming through the Bayern Munich academy, it was immediately clear that the Bavarian giants had a talent on their hands. After two seasons with Bayern II (capturing them in his second year) and another two on loan at Stuttgart, the German outfit finally became content with cutting the defender’s pockets.
He was ready for Byron. And so it proved. What separated Lahm from the rest of the promising youngsters at Germany’s most successful club was first his mentality and then his talent.
During his development at the academy, he played at right-back, left-back and defensive midfield, playing all roles equally effectively. This will become quite the theme in the German’s career, as he will be asked to help out wherever necessary, when injuries strike or the lack of cover becomes dire.
Now, one of the biggest frictions in the world of football is the egos that come with very talented celebrities. Many superstars would be horrified if they were asked to be humble enough to sacrifice their personal stats or happiness for the good of the team, especially if it became a regular occurrence over the course of a season.
? An impeccable fullback who also excelled in midfield…
? Happy birthday, 2013 winner Philipp Lahm!
? @philipplahm = An all-time great❓ #UCL | #HBD | @FCBayernEN pic.twitter.com/T1o7GUejqp
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) November 11, 2020
But Lahm accepted the challenge, stepping in at left-back in 2006, when Die Rotten somehow ran out of other players capable of playing the position. But they need not worry. His own personal handyman took over with minimal fuss, playing all 34 Bundesliga games and winning plaudits during his second professional season in the German top flight.
That was just the beginning, though. Another impressive campaign at left-back sealed his future with Barcelona, but Lahm chose to commit to the club that paved the way to the top of European football.
And there he will stay. The most amazing thing about the Bayern star was how good he was at everything he did. Be it in defense or in midfield, he would quickly be named the best player of his era in that role, only to return to another position and end it as well.
It was in the midfield where his game really shined, and we saw the true footballing talent of this extremely talented man. He played the game at his pace, dictating the tempo as soon as he looked fit and using his years of experience to read the attacks and put them to bed clinically. He was one of the best holding midfielders in the world, and it’s just a shame we saw so little of him in that role.
Happy 37th birthday to one of Bayern’s great legends and best RB of Philipp Lahm? pic.twitter.com/YHFP0sAqoL
– ??????? (@sanabryFCB) November 11, 2020
Of course, his loyalty and commitment to Byron and his nation was richly rewarded. An eight-time Bundesliga champion, a World Cup winner as captain of his country, and a regular in the ‘Team of the Year’ categories, Lahm’s career received the silverware it deserved.
And as they lift the World Cup trophy and look up at the heavens, they will know, all the personal sacrifice and hard work – it was all worth it.
Happy birthday Philip!