Lahm denies attack on Ballack for captaincy claim
Durban: German defender Philipp Lahm said his wish to retain the captaincy of the national football team was `no attack` on team-mate Michael Ballack, who skippered the side before an injury prevented him from playing in the World Cup.
`It`s no power struggle at all either because only one person has power and that`s the coach,` Lahm said after Germany lost to Spain 1-0 in their semi-final match in Durban on Wednesday evening.
`When you`ve got a post you want to keep it, no more and no less,` said Lahm, 26. `It`d be bad if I didn`t want to continue carrying out the post. I enjoy it a lot. I haven`t attacked Michael Ballack.`
The controversy arose on Monday when Lahm said in several interviews that he would like to remain captain beyond the World Cup, creating splash headlines in Germany of a `power struggle` between him and Ballack, a 33-year-old midfielder with 98 caps.
`Of course I don`t want to give up the captain`s armband again,` Lahm was quoted as telling the Munich-based daily tz. `I won`t volunteer to give it up. But that decision is with the coach.`
Asked by the tabloid Bild whether the German team still needed Ballack, Lahm said: `I`m not the one who should answer the question with a yes or a no.`
Lahm`s comments caused a huge stir back home and team manager Oliver Bierhoff reacted to them by saying they had been ill-timed. But Germany coach Joachim Loew rejected suggestions that team harmony had been dealt a blow.
Defending the timing of his captaincy claim, Lahm said, `I didn`t talk about the team or about anybody who`s here. It was only about my position and the post I`m carrying out at the moment.`
Ballack had been with the squad to lend support during the quarter-final win over Argentina. He left on Monday amid media speculation that relations with some of his team-mates were less than idyllic.
Loew said, however, that Ballack had left on the advice of the team`s medical staff to begin rehabilitation work ahead of the new season.