PHILLIP LAHM never won a European Championship medal, which is saying something considering he claimed just about every honour in the game as a marauding right-back for Bayern Munich and Germany.

There was one notable near-miss in 2008 and a semi-final appearance four years later but that was as close as Lahm got to lifting the Henri Delaunay trophy. It's a statistic that is made all the more curious by the fact that Germany is the most successful nation in tournament history, having won the competition three times and reached three other finals.

But Lahm says he would not change his experience of the competition because it helped shape Germany's World Cup win over Argentina in 2014, the pain of defeat by Spain in '08 and Italy in 2012 providing the necessary impetus to spur them on to glory in Brazil.


“[They were] incredibly important because our team bases itself on tournaments,” says Lahm. “Because we had been knocked out in the final and then the semi-final, it was important that we went through these experiences.

“To play in the knockout rounds as well, you need to experience the pressure and that helped us a lot in 2014 to get the [World Cup] title.”

Now retired, Lahm is particularly looking forward to this year's edition especially since Munich is one of the host cities but also his home town.

“It is really special for me. I am a native of Munich, I was born in Munich, my family lives there, I spent almost my entire career in Munich with one club, so it is really personal and I’ll try to be more objective.

“Munich is very welcoming to guests. We have businesses, clubs, establishments which are not only well known in Munich but all over the place. I think what makes Munich different is the professionalism, but also its comfort.”

He is similarly enthused about Germany's chances of ending that long wait for a trophy they last lifted in 1996 following the 1-0 over Czech Republic at Wembley. He expects his compatriots to provide their usual formidable challenge having topped Group C in the qualification campaign with relative ease despite a 4-2 defeat by the Netherlands in September, despite being drawn in a group containing holders Portugal and world champions France.


"Winning is always difficult because there are a lot of other countries but we have a talented team. In qualification, they showed that they can play impressive football. The team just needs to mature together.

“That applies to their preparation for the tournament but then a German team at such a tournament is always a force to be reckoned with and of course that’s what I’m wishing for.”