The news Bastian Schweinsteiger is poised to join Manchester United on a three-year contract means Germany’s captain will end his 17-year love-affair with FC Bayern Munich.
It looked like Schweinsteiger would finish his career in Munich when he bellowed “long live Bayern!” into the loudspeaker at the Allianz Arena following a league match in December 2010.
Back then, he personally broke the news to Bayern’s die-hard fans that he had signed a contract extension until 2016, which he will not now fulfil.
After winning his eighth Bundesliga title last season and having been part of the 2013 treble-winning side which won the Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup, there are simply no new horizons to conquer with Bayern for the star their fans dubbed ‘Fussball Gott’ — football god.
The 30-year-old midfielder will cost United around 20 million euros ($22.31m), but such is his esteem in Munich that Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has already promised Schweinsteiger a testimonial game when his career is over.
Should he pass the medical to sign for United as expected, he will reportedly receive A?140,000 (a 195,000, $217,000) per week in Manchester, A?7.2m (a 10m, $11.2m) per season, which matches the 10 million euros he was receiving in Munich.
Schweinsteiger will be the first German to play for United.
As Rummenigge said on Saturday when confirming the news no Bayern fan wanted to hear, Schweinsteiger has grown up with the Munich club.
“In terms of personality, you can’t replace ‘Basti’ like for like,” admitted Bayern’s director of sport Matthias Sammer.
Having acquired a wealth of experience in his 536 appearances for Bayern, United will sign a finished article, but Schweinsteiger’s personality — and more importantly his leadership — was something which was questioned in the past.
In 2011, former Bayern and Germany captain Oliver Kahn said Schweinsteiger lacked the ‘real leadership skills’ Germany needed to win titles.
‘Schweini’ did his talking on the pitch by steering Bayern to the 2013 treble before ending the debate for good with a magnificent display of true-grit leadership in Germany’s World Cup victory in last year’s hard-fought final against Argentina.
He heads to England with the blessing of Germany coach Joachim Loew and a promise his exit from the Bundesliga will not harm his prospects of captaining Germany at next June’s Euro 2016 in France.
Not only his English, but also his media skills will be sharpened by dealing with the British tabloids on a regular basis.
They dubbed him a ‘dirty Schwein’ when he scored a second-half equaliser in a Champions League quarter-final at Old Trafford in April 2014 before being sent off on 90 minutes for a second yellow card.
Bayern banned two English newspapers for the return leg in Munich, which the Bavarians won 3-1 as Schweinsteiger sat out while serving his suspension.
Rummenigge went to pains to halt the rumour mill peddling notions that Schweinsteiger is quitting Bayern due to problems with coach Pep Guardiola: “I would like to refer to that in the realm of fairytales,” he said drily.
But in his two seasons under Guardiola, Schweinsteiger never looked as comfortable as he did in the 2013 season under Jupp Heynckes when he forged a solid defensive midfield partnership alongside Javi Martinez.
Under Guardiola, Schweinsteiger was pushed forward, out of his holding role and into the central midfield with Philipp Lahm moving up from left-back to plug the hole in front of the defence.
At United, the Germany star will resume working under Louis van Gaal, who is a big fan of Schweinsteiger since the Dutchman steered Bayern to the 2010 Champions League final in his two-year reign as coach from 2009-11.
A keen basketball fan, Schweinsteiger will bring a certain amount of glamour to Old Trafford.
He has been known to hang-out with sprint star Usain Bolt when the Jamaican is in Munich visiting famous German doctor Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt.
His seven-year relationship with Munich model Sarah Brandner ended after the World Cup only for Germany’s new captain to start dating Serbian tennis pro Ana Ivanovic, which the couple confirmed in February.
While he’s comfortable in the limelight, Schweinsteiger took legal action to have the name ‘Schweini’ removed when a sausage manufacturer tried to use the footballer’s name to sell his product before the 2006 World Cup.
Born in 1984 in Kolbermoor, the same town as German football legend Paul Breitner in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps, Schweinsteiger opted for football over a career as a downhill skier.
After playing for local club TSV Rosenheim as a boy, he joined Bayern as a teenager in 1998, made his senior in 2002 and he pulled on Germany’s famous white shirt in June 2002.
He played in all three group games as Germany failed to reach the knock-out stages of Euro 2004 before his 20th birthday, but barring injury, Schweinsteiger will lead his country at his fourth European Championships in France next summer after 111 international appearances
. By AFP