Loew leads tributes to Lahm after Germany skipper announces retirement from international football
Germany coach Joachim Loew led the tributes to World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm, who announced his international retirement on Friday.
The 30-year-old Lahm brought an end to his German career after winning 113 caps, the last of which saw him lift the World Cup following last Sunday's final victory over Argentina in Rio de Janeiro.
"He can be proud of his career," Loew said on the site of the German Football Association (DFB). "He is a fantastic player with a big heart, lots of passion and character, and he has achieved a great deal with the DFB. Thanks Philipp!"
Lahm became Low's skipper just prior to the 2010 World Cup when injury ruled then captain Michael Ballack out of the tournament.
Loew added: "He was always a central and very important figure to talk to, with whom we were able to discuss our ideas.
"Thanks to his intelligence and his versatility, he has been playing at the very top level for many years and he is a world-class player, which he proved these last few weeks in Brazil."
Lahm made his Germany debut in February 2004, when he was on a two-year loan at Stuttgart from Bayern.
"You could see already then what enormous potential he had," Low continued. "I have been fortunate to work with him in the national team for 10 years."
At the age of 30, Lahm's decision came as a something of a shock.
Even if he does bow out at the pinnacle of his profession, having captained Germany to World Cup glory, he would have been expected to lead their defence of the title in Russia in 2018.
"It's a surprise for everybody," said Rudi Voller, who was in charge when Low made his Germany debut 10 years ago.
"Given the quality and the fitness he has, Philipp is certainly the type of person you would have expected to play at the next World Cup."
That will not be the case, however, with Lothar Matthaus, the last captain of a German World Cup-winning side before Lahm, congratulating him on his choice.
"It's very courageous of him to end his Germany career and he warrants my utmost respect," he said.
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel also took a moment away from her political duties to pay tribute to the defender, with whom she celebrated in the dressing room at the Maracana last Sunday.
"I would like to express my biggest respect for what he has achieved for the national team," Merkel said.