Germany’s players have paid tribute to their “amazing” captain, Bastian Schweinsteiger, backing him to boost their already sky-high confidence further after he returned from injury to score in the final minute of their opening 2-0 victory over Ukraine.
The Manchester United midfielder came on as a substitute right towards the end to finish a sweeping move to a rapturous reception from the German fans.
André Schürrle, another late substitute in what was in the end a comfortable victory, said his return would give the team even more confidence as they prepared to face Poland in the match likely to decide who will top their group.
“When you see the criticism he got, is he fit, is he old, is he too slow, or whatever, and then to score like this in an important game is amazing. It’s good for the team because he’s our captain and he’s so important for us and it’s good for him to have this confidence,” said the Wolfsburg forward.
“He’s a great person. Mentally he’s so strong. He knows what to do on the pitch and he’s so calm. We’ve seen it in the training sessions. He’s been one and a half weeks with the team and class is permanent, you know.”
Joachim Löw said afterwards that Schweinsteiger remained the heartbeat of the side whether he started or not. After his comeback as a second-half substitute in a friendly against Hungary last week, Franz Beckenbauer said the midfielder looked happier “away from the problems in Manchester”.
“It’s not that easy to come from the Bundesliga into the Premier League. It’s something different. It’s not an easy way to play football and it was not easy for him when he came with the injuries,” said Schürrle. “It was a hard year for him. When he’s fit, when he’s the leader he wants to be, he makes every team better.”
Germany’s unlikely goalscorer Shkodran Mustafi, only playing because Mats Hummels was injured, warmed to the same theme.
“I’m happy for him because it’s not easy to come back from injury with a lot of people criticising you or saying you might not go to a tournament like this. It’s not easy but I’m happy for him,” he said.
“He comes in and demonstrates that he still has this mentality that he wants to fight and wants to give everything for the team and it’s important for young players like me to have someone like this in the team.”
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