Bastian Schweinsteiger received an emotional Germany farewell on Wednesday night, with the Manchester United midfielder brought to tears in his final match for his nation.
Schweinsteiger, 32, was cheered by 30,121 fans at the Borussia Park whenever he picked up possession, before being withdrawn in the 68th minute and replaced by Julian Weigl, as Germany beat Finland 2-0 thanks to goals from Maximilian Meyer and Paulus Arajuuri.
The former Bayern Munich player won his 121st and final cap for Germany, bringing to an end his 12-year international career.
“I will miss him, not only as a footballer,” national team coach Joachim Low said. “It was a farewell which Bastian absolutely deserved.
“He shaped the national team over the past 12 years, and without him all the success we had during that time would not have been possible.”
Schweinsteiger announced his decision to retire from international football in late July, and he was followed by former Arsenal striker Lukas Podolski, 31, a few weeks later.
They were the last players remaining members of the 2006 World Cup squad, which has largely been regarded as the turning point for German football and which formed the core of the 2014 World Cup-winning team.
“We have always reached the semifinal in big tournaments,” Low, who worked as Jurgen Klinsmann’s assistant at the 2006 World Cup and then took charge of the national team, said.
Thanks Basti. We will miss you.@BSchweinsteiger #ServusBasti pic.twitter.com/fz0DoCcDDJ
– Mario Götze (@MarioGoetze) August 31, 2016
“I was always comfortable when he was on the pitch, because he’s a leader who takes on responsibility.
“I will miss him, not only as a footballer, but his benevolence and fairness have always distinguished him.”
Thomas Muller, his former teammate at Bayern Munich, added:
“I am bit that sad that we will no longer fight for points and wins on the pitch. He’s always been there at Bayern and the national team when I started out.”
Speaking after the game, Schweinsteiger said he has not played the last game of his career at the highest level, despite a difficult situation at United.