Diego Maradonna described him as the greatest rival he ever faced. Lothar Matthäus, not Captain Kirk – that would be daft!
The most capped German footballer of all time with 150 appearances and 23 goals coming from a 20 year… yes, 20 year… international career. A versatile and complete player with unwavering confidence in himself, Matthäus is simply one of the greatest midfielders of all time.
A dynamic box-to-box midfielder, later switching to the sweeper role, who could pass, shoot, tackle and drive past players with ease, was equally capable with both feet and possessed a footballing brain the size of a planet. We could almost leave his Time Vault Soccer football card game player profile there.
That would, however, leave the fans of Borussia Monchengladbach, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich again and the German international team short changed.
Born: 21st March 1961 – Erlangen Germany Position: Central Midfield / Sweeper
Club Career: Years Team Apps Gls 1979-1984 Borussia Monchengladbach 162 36 1984-1988 Bayern Munich 113 57 1988-1992 Inter Milan 115 40 1992-2000 Bayern Munich 189 28 2000 Metro Stars 16 0 2018 FC Herzogenaurach 1 0
International Career: 1980 – 2000 (West) Germany 150 23
Scoring 161 goals in 579 games across the German Bundesliga and Italian Seria A, Lothar Matthäus made his senior debut in 1979 at the age of 18 for Borussia Monchengladbach. International duty called against the Netherlands the very next year at the UEFA Euro finals in Italy, where West Germany went on to win the tournament. He retained his place for 1982 World Cup in Spain.
In 1984 Matthäus got a dream move to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich. During his first of two spells at the club he won 3 league titles, the DFB-Pokal and came close to winning the European Cup in 1987 losing, by a couple of late goals, 2-1 to F.C Porto.
At the 1986 World Cup in Mexico he was the creative force in a powerful West German team that reached the final against Argentina. As a consequence of his all round talent Matthäus was sacrificed in the final itself to man mark Diego Maradonna. Despite keeping the phenomenal Argentine off the score sheet, Argentina ran out winners 3 – 2.
Two years later, Matthäus captained his country at the EUFA Euro finals. The campaign came to an end in the semi-finals at the hands of the eventual winners, the Netherlands, with a certain Marco Van Basten inserting the final death strike to the Germans ball bag.
That summer a high profile move to Inter Milan followed along with club and country teammate Andreas Brehme. Soon to joined by Jurgen Klinsmann, more success followed for both club and country.
The 1990 World Cup, Italia ’90, saw West Germany re-invent football. With teams opting for conservative, defensive, strategies Lothar and his compatriots defied the trend and opted for attacking football par excellence.
The 4 – 1 demolition of hugely talented Yugoslavia team that featured Dejan Savićević, Davor Šuker, Robert Prosinečki, Dragan Stojković and Robert Jarni remains a master class of strategic attacking football… and one of Time Vault Soccer’s all time top 10 games of football, ever… and we’re English!
The West Germans tormented the tough tackling Yugoslavs. Matthäus was at the heart of everything, dropping deep to create space for Rudi Voller and Jurgen Klinsmann to exploit or spinning and driving with the ball to score the goal the tournament.
Having, broken English hearts by seeing off Bobby Robsons spirited England team with the likes of Gary Lineker, David Platt, Peter Shilton and Paul Gascoigne, Diego Maradona’s Argentina awaited West Germany in the final, a re-match from 1986.
This time Matthäus emerged the victor, lifting the World Cup for West Germany.
In 1991 he won the UEFA Cup with Inter Milan and was named FIFA World Player of the Year (Still the only German player to have received the award) before injury forced his absence from the German squad at the 1992 UEFA Euros and a return move to Bayern Munich in the same year.
During his second spell with Bayern, he won four Bundesliga titles, two DFB-Pokals, another UEFA Cup and reached a second UEFA Champions League final in 1999. Sadly, it was not to be as having been substituted with 10 minutes to go with Bayern leading 1-0, Manchester United scored twice in stoppage time to deny him the victory.
Ottmar Hitzfeld, the Bayern Munich Manager, said that he’d been a total “Cock Womble” in taking Matthäus off and, on his way to the job center, acknowledged that “shit, does indeed happen”.
Having appeared for the unified German national team in the 1994 World Cup in the USA, Matthäus made his final World Cup appearance at France 1998. His 5th World Cup finals, making him one of only two players to have done so at that time.
During the 1999 – 2000 season Matthäus moved to New York City’s Metro Stars where her announced his retirement after 16 games.
Germany’s greatest ever box to box midfielder made his last appearance for his country at the UEFA Euro finals in Portugal, 2000. That didn’t end so well for Matthäus or the Germans, but none of that took away the glow from what had gone before.
His last hurrah came at the age of 57 in 2018 when he came out of retirement to play 50 minutes in a game for FC Herzogenaurach, the club where he had spent 9 years as youth player.
He said it was fulfilling his ambition to finish his career where it had started and remarked that “It was always my dream to play my last competitive game here”.
Captain Kirk, a bloke who doesn’t exist, saved the planet Earth several times, stopped the Doomsday Machine, helped negotiate peace with the Klingon Empire, kept the balance of power between the Federation and the Romulan Empire, and even managed to get in a few snogs.
If Captain Kirk played football, we’re pretty sure he would play like Lothar Matthäus.
The Time Vault Soccer football card game doff’s it’s cap to this footballing Legend with a representation of the 1989 -1990 World Cup winning season:
Time Vault Soccer football card game Profile:
Position: Midfield (Center) Rating: 5 Star Skill Stats: ATTACK 7 DEFEND 5 Special:
Drive From Deep (Flair Skill): When you play Lothar as the first card in an attacking move, you may move one of your opponent’s players of your choice. The moved player may leave, start or join a move but must stay in their original attack or defend zone.
Season Stats: Year Team App Gls Hons 1989 – 1990 Internazionale 29 (8) 13 (5) (WC)
Strategy Tip: A 5 star, heavy hitter that scores high on the “Threat-o-meter”. Keep him off the table and watch your opponent agonise over the “but if I do this, and you’ve got Matthäus… Oh nuts!” decisions.
Features in: “Rivals” – Card No: 27/32”
Figures in (Italics) = stats for their National side.