Ballack says he's still Germany captain

Published Jul. 14, 2010 1:37 p.m. ET

Michael Ballack made it clear Wednesday that he doesn't plan to give up the Germany captaincy after Philipp Lahm, who replaced him during the World Cup, said he wanted to keep the job.

The 33-year-old midfielder said the situation is clear - "I think I am still the national team captain."

"If Philipp sees it differently he should perhaps discuss it with the coach," Ballack said. "I think the coach decides who plays where and who is captain," he added.

Germany's longtime captain suffered an ankle injury in the English FA Cup final that put him out of the World Cup.

Lahm led Germany's World Cup campaign and the 26-year-old Bayern Munich defender said during the tournament, in which a young Germany team finished third after several impressive performances, that he wouldn't hand back the armband voluntarily.

Ballack, who noted that "I was injured and I couldn't play a part," said Lahm made his comments "at a point that - independently of the fact that it is inappropriate - I find debatable."

However, he appeared keen to downplay the flap, congratulating Lahm on his wedding Wednesday and saying that the controversy shouldn't play an "overriding role."


Ballack said he and Lahm would discuss it briefly when they next meet for an international match, but "we will pull together, we have new aims and we will pursue them."

Germany coach Joachim Loew's future remains unclear after his contract expired at the end of the World Cup.

Ballack spoke as he was presented at Bayer Leverkusen - where he has signed a two-year deal after he was released by Chelsea.

"I think there is a great deal of potential in the team," he said. Leverkusen led the Bundesliga for much of last season but slipped to a fourth-place finish, which qualified it for the Europa League.

Ballack said his recovery from the injury is progressing well and he aims to be ready to play when the Bundesliga season begins in late August.