Germany are one of the favourites for the 2014 World Cup finals, and leading them from the back is a certain Per Mertesacker.
The Arsenal defender has been part of the German national set-up since 2004. He was handed his debut for his country by now USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann and before long he was a regular in the line-up.
Mertesacker featured for Germany at the 2005 FIFA Confederations, the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals, and the European Championship in 2008 and 2012. So much so that he has earned 99 caps for his nation.
And on Saturday, the 29-year-old will get to play his 100th match for Germany, a marvellous achievement made even more impressive when you consider what he has helped Die Mannschaft achieve in the last 10 years.
Since the turn of the century, Germany have been one of the most consistent sides in international football, maybe even the most consistent. True, they have failed to win anything major and Spain have been hitting the headlines for the past six or so years, but that does not take away anything from the progress the German national team have made.
Back in 2002, Germany reached the final of the World Cup. They made it through to the semi-finals both at the 2006 and 2010 editions, and at Euro 2012. In 2008, they were beaten by a solitary goal by Spain in the final of the European Championship. That is consistency.
This summer Germany are challenging for the World Cup. No European team have ever won the world’s biggest football competition outside their own continent, but Joachim Low’s players do have the potential and calibre to create history in Brazil. And Mertesacker will be at the heart of that accomplishment.
Having comprehensively overpowered Portugal 4-0 in their opening Group G clash last week, on Saturday Germany will hope to edge a step close to qualification to the round of 16 by picking up all three points against Ghana at the Estadio Castelo in Fortaleza.
Mertesacker will be proudly celebrating his 100th cap for Germany, and he hopes to feature in many more matches for his country thereafter.
Tomorrow I will play my 100th game for the German National team. I am proud of every single game and hope there are many more to come!— Per Mertesacker (@mertesacker) June 20, 2014