Former Germany and Chelsea star speaks to Off The Ball at the Helix Roadshow
Michael Ballack has opened up about the Germany captaincy issue which underpinned his differences with former national team colleague and captaincy successor Philipp Lahm.
When Bayern Munich and Germany legend Lahm officially retired last week, he received almost universal praise from team-mates, opponents and football figures.
All except former Germany captain Ballack who was critical of Lahm in regards to the Germany captaincy around the time of the 2010 World Cup.
The former Chelsea and Bayern Munich midfielder was a special guest at Off The Ball's Helix Roadshow and he spoke about what happened.
"I'm not often on TV or on radio where I'm asked about that story but it was seven years ago. So it's already out of my mind - until I get asked," he said.
"It was not a nice story because if you remember, I was injured but I got a knock in the last match of the FA Cup final against Portsmouth and until then I was the captain and I wanted to lead the team to the World Cup.
"You can imagine the kind of frustration of the next weeks and months for me."
Michael Ballack with Chelsea in the 2010 FA Cup final. Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport
Despite injury ruling him out of the 2010 World Cup, Ballack travelled to South Africa with the team, where Lahm deputised as Germany captain in his absence.
"I was visiting them and what happened afterwards kind of surprised me because I was supporting the team. I went for a game and as I left, I read an interview from Philipp that he wants to be captain, that he wants to keep the captaincy and that was surprising for me because I was the captain and nothing had happened so far, and that someone asks for the [arm] band was quite unusual. I don't know what was going on but overall to summarise it, I never came back to play one game for the national team for the next seven, eight, nine months."
Ballack added "that was not the best move".
In terms of friends in football since retiring, he cited former Bayer Leverkusen and Germany team-mates Oliver Neuville and Bernd Schneider, as well as ex-Chelsea colleagues Andriy Shevchenko and John Terry, who he spoke warmly about.
Ballack also discussed the 2002 World Cup adventure which saw Germany play Ireland along the way as the then Bayer Leverkusen midfielder led his country to the final but ended up being ruled out of the decider due to a yellow card suspension - a year which also saw him finish runner up in the Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup with Bayer Leverkusen.
"It was a tough four weeks," he said of the emotion of being so close, yet so far from glory on so many fronts.
He also discussed his inauspicious start to life as a footballer with clubs in the lower reaches of German football, having grown up in the East of the country in the pre-unification days.
The former box to box midfielder also spoke about his excellent goals record for club and country and how experience helped him realise the perfect moment to make a run into the box or unleash a shot from range.