Bastian Schweinsteiger – an under-appreciated legend

Bayern Munich
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Bastian Schweinsteiger announced his retirement on Tuesday to little fanfare, but there’s no doubt how good he was in his pomp.

The German World Cup winner has been playing his football in the MLS for Chicago Fire but will hang up his boots at the end of the season following a glittering career.

The energetic midfielder spent most of his time at Bayern Munich, making over 500 appearances for the Bavaria club and won virtually every honour available, capturing eight Bundesliga titles and the Champions League in 2013.

Later on in his career, he joined Manchester United, but, being in his 30s, he never had the same impact in England as he did in Germany.

He did, however, win the FA Cup in 2016 after a 2-1 win against Crystal Palace in what also signified the final game in charge for Louis van Gaal.

The 35-year-old then moved onto the MLS to play for Chicago Fire where he netted eight goals in 85 appearances so far.

Football fans, particularly in England, might reserve most of their memories of Schweinsteiger from his time at Old Trafford and the disappointment that it brought.

However, there is no doubt his Red Devils spell was not a true reflection of the player he was – a midfield behemoth who never quite got the adulation he deserved.

Schweinsteiger quickly established himself as a mainstay in the Bayern team after making his debut in the 2002-03 season, and it only took another year until he made his full Germany debut.

He had many fine moments throughout his career – his brilliantly inventive back-heeled goal against Frankfurt in 2013 helped the Bavarians secure the league title with six games to spare, before helping Bayern to the Champions League, beating Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund 2-1.

He was then instrumental in helping Germany to win the World Cup in 2014 as Mario Gotze’s extra-time strike sunk Argentina.

When fans are asked who the best midfielders are of his generation, the usual names to crop up are Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Andrea Pirlo and Steven Gerrard.

No one seems to mention Schweinsteiger, and while he might not have possessed quite the technical skills of the aforementioned four, his tenacious style made him a superstar in his own country and for Bayern.

The Kolbermoor-born player was a true all-rounder – someone who could score goals as well as defend. His passing was excellent and he had a ferocious strike from range.

Bayern let him go at the right time, and United never saw him at his best, but in his prime, Schweinsteiger was a true lynchpin of a brilliant Bayern and Germany team.

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