Players with most international appearances
The following table lists the twenty-five players who have made the most first team appearances for the German national side, an illustrious band of players currently headed by Lothar Matthäus who won a total of 150 caps in what was a twenty-year career. The beginning and end of Matthäus’ career provides a stark contrast: when he made his international debut against the Netherlands in 1980 he was the youngest player in a championship-winning squad at barely nineteen; when he made his final appearance two decades later at Euro 2000 however, he was the oldest member of a creaking Kader that sunk without trace in the opening group phase.
Matthäus is currently well clear of the man in second place, striker Miroslav Klose – who sits on 119 international appearances. While Klose is still active and was one of those selected for the 2012 European Championship finals, he is unlikely to surpass Matthäus – unless he remains fit and available for selection until the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. However by this time he would be thirty-six years old.
More likely to overtake Matthäus are a clutch of players who started their international careers in their late teens and early twenties. Should they remain fit the likes of Lukas Podolski, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Per Mertesacker and current team captain Philipp Lahm are likely to take their international careers to at least Brazil 2014; all four have been mainstays in the side since 2006, and will only be in their early thirties when the 2016 European Championship kicks off in France.
There have only been seven “centurions” in the entire history of the Nationalmannschaft, but this looks set to increase dramatically within the next couple of years. Lukas Podolski because the seventh and youngest player to reach the hundred-cap milestone during the Euro 2012 first phase match against Denmark, while following the team’s semi-final exit at the hands of Italy Schweinsteiger would be left five short of the landmark and Lahm nine.
|MATTHÄUS, Lothar||1961.03.21||1980.06.14||Netherlands (EC80 1R)||2000.06.20||Portugal (EC00 1R)||150||243||61.7||7311 days|
|KLOSE, Miroslav*||1978.06.09||2001.03.24||Albania (WC02 Q)||2012.10.16||Sweden (WC14 Q)||126||170||74.1||4224 days|
|PODOLSKI, Lukas*||1985.06.04||2004.06.06||Hungary (F)||2013.03.22||Kazakhstan (WC12 QF)||108||129||83.7||3212 days|
|KLINSMANN, Jürgen||1964.07.30||1987.12.12||Brazil (F)||1998.07.04||Croatia (WC98 QF)||108||130||83.1||3857 days|
|KOHLER, Jürgen||1965.10.06||1986.09.24||Denmark (F)||1998.07.04||Croatia (WC98 QF)||105||140||75.0||4301 days|
|BECKENBAUER, Franz||1945.09.11||1965.09.26||Sweden (WC66 Q)||1977.02.23||France (F)||103||113||91.1||4168 days|
|HÄßLER, Thomas||1966.05.30||1988.08.31||Finland (WC90 Q)||2000.06.20||Portugal (EC00 1R)||101||146||69.2||4311 days|
|SCHWEINSTEIGER, Bastian*||1984.08.01||2004.06.06||Hungary (F)||2013.03.22||Kazakhstan (WC12 QF)||98||129||76.0||3212 days|
|LAHM, Philipp*||1983.11.11||2004.02.18||Croatia||2013.03.26||Kazakhstan (WC12 QF)||98||134||73.1||3328 days|
|BALLACK, Michael||1976.09.26||1999.04.28||Scotland (F)||2010.03.03||Argentina (F)||98||169||57.9||3962 days|
|VOGTS, Hans-Hubert "Berti"||1945.12.30||1967.05.03||Yugoslavia (EC68 Q)||1978.06.21||Austria (WC78 2R)||96||113||84.9||4067 days|
|RUMMENIGGE, Karl-Heinz||1955.09.25||1976.10.06||Wales (F)||1986.06.29||Argentina (WC86 F)||95||116||81.8||3553 days|
|MAIER, Josef "Sepp"||1944.02.28||1966.05.04||Republic of Ireland (F)||1979.05.26||Iceland (F)||95||136||69.8||4770 days|
|VÖLLER, Rudolf "Rudi"||1960.04.13||1982.11.17||N. Ireland (EC84 Q)||1994.07.10||Bulgaria (WC94 QF)||90||131||68.7||4253 days|
|MERTESACKER, Per*||1984.09.29||2004.10.09||Iran (F)||2013.03.26||Kazakhstan (WC12 QF)||88||124||71.0||3092 days|
|BREHME, Andreas||1960.11.09||1984.02.15||Bulgaria (F)||1994.07.10||Bulgaria (WC94 QF)||86||120||71.7||3798 days|
|KAHN, Oliver||1969.06.15||1995.06.23||Switzerland (F)||2006.07.08||Portugal (WC06 3P)||86||157||54.8||4033 days|
|MÖLLER, Andreas||1967.09.02||1988.09.21||Soviet Union (F)||1999.02.09||Colombia (F)||85||126||67.5||3793 days|
|FRIEDRICH, Arne*||1979.05.29||2002.08.21||Bulgaria (F)||2011.06.03||Austria (EC12 Q)||82||126||65.1||3208 days|
|FÖRSTER, Karl-Heinz||1958.07.25||1978.04.05||Brazil (F)||1986.06.29||Argentina (WC86 F)||81||101||80.2||3007 days|
|OVERATH, Wolfgang||1943.09.29||1963.09.28||Turkey (F)||1974.07.07||Netherlands (WC74 F)||81||108||75.0||3935 days|
|SCHNEIDER, Bernd||1973.11.17||1999.07.28||New Zealand (CC 1R)||2008.02.06||Austria (F)||81||120||67.5||3115 days|
|FRINGS, Torsten||1976.11.22||2001.02.27||France (F)||2009.02.11||Norway (F)||79||118||66.9||2906 days|
|SCHUMACHER, Harald "Toni"||1954.03.06||1979.05.26||Iceland (F)||1986.10.15||Spain (F)||76||88||86.4||2699 days|
|BUCHWALD, Guido||1961.01.24||1984.05.22||Italy (F)||1994.07.10||Bulgaria (WC94 QF)||76||116||65.5||3701 days|
As well as details of the total caps won by each player and the length of his career, the data also supplies both the maximum number of internationals that player could theoretically have been selected for during their career span – and the percentage of matches they actually played. With this wider battery of statistics the figures produced are far more meaningful than simply a list based on the number of caps won, particularly given that far more games are played in the course of an average calendar year today than in the 1960s and 1970s.
The figures make for some very interesting reading – for example over the course of his twenty-year international career, Lothar Matthäus featured in only 61.7% of all matches played in the period from his first cap to his last. This low figure was attributed not only to injury problems, but also the fact that he had found himself excluded from the national side for much of the Berti Vogts era before making a late comeback in the late 1990s under Erich Ribbeck. Had Matthäus been able to achieve a ratio similar to the likes of Jürgen Klinsmann or Karl-Heinz Rummenigge – both of whom were also afflicted by injury – he would have racked up close to 200 caps.
Another low figure that stands out is the 59.7% of Michael Ballack, who unlike Matthäus had no such issues with the coaching staff. Ballack was instead almost continually plagued by injury, and could consider himself extremely unlucky not to have won more than his career total of ninety-eight caps. Ballack’s injury in the weeks leading up to 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa would effectively bring an end to his international career: although he would continue at club level until his retirement in the autumn of 2012, he never would never get to wear the Nationaltrikot again.
The lowest percentage is that of goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, but unlike an outfield player a ‘keeper would be vying for the one fixed position and would be more likely to remain a permanent number two or three for a longer span of time. Although Kahn had been part of the national set up from 1994 – he was included in the World Cup squad despite having made no prior international appearances – he remained a clear understudy first to Bodo Illgner and then Andreas Köpke, only assuming the mantle of Germany’s number one when Köpke finally retired from international duty in 1998. Kahn’s figures are also not helped by the fact that during the latter part of his career he had found himself vying for the jersey with Jens Lehmann, which saw him miss out on being first choice for the 2006 World Cup finals.
Probably the most amazing figures in this list however are those that were achieved by Franz Beckenbauer, who missed only ten internationals out of 113 in a career spanning just over ten years. After being rested for the World Cup third place play-off against Uruguay in June 1970, Der Kaiser put together an unbroken string of sixty internationals over some seven years until his sudden retirement from international football in February 1977. The last forty-seven of these sixty appearances were as captain, the longest unbroken spell by any Spielführer in the history of the Nationalmannschaft.
* Currently active. The figures for all current players are based on the assumption that they have not officially retired from the national side.