Left-side Lahm is Germany's Mr Versatile | sports | Hindustan Times
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Left-side Lahm is Germany's Mr Versatile

sports Updated: Jun 06, 2008 17:43 IST
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Germany defender Philipp Lahm fired his country's imagination with the first goal on their way to third in the 2006 World Cup, but he is more concerned about stopping opponents during Euro 2008.

The 24-year-old scored the only goal when Germany beat Costa Rica in their opening 2006 World Cup group match, but Lahm is more concerned with shutting out Poland's strikers when their Euro 2008 campaign begins in Klagenfurt, Austria, on Sunday.

Germany are amongst the favourites to pick up their fourth European crown to add to the ones they won in 1972, 1980 and 1996 with the German public desperate for success.

"That goal was two years ago, I know it unleashed some unbelievable enthusiasm from the German public, but my aim is to stop goals being scored at the other end. That is my priority," said Lahm.

The Bayern Munich defender has played at left back for most of his 41 caps and he admitted his preferred position is on the right, with head coach Joachim Loew insisting he is the most versatile player in the Germany squad.

"I am a bit more comfortable on the right, I can play on the left side no problems, but I feel better on the right although there is a minimal difference."

Lahm has signed a contract extension which plans to keep him at Bayern until 2012 and new Munich coach Jurgen Klinsmann is set to play him on the right side of the defence when the new season resumes in August.

Despite his tender years, Lahm has already been in the national squad for four years, but insists he is still the junior compared to experienced centre-backs Christoph Metzelder and Per Mertesacker.

"This is my third tournament having played at Euro 2004 as well as the last World Cup and people are now asking for my opinion in training, which wasn't always the case," he said.

"I am keen to pass on any experience I have to players coming into the squad, but I am not the boss of the German back four, that is for sure."

Lahm said Germany have been working on tactics this week at their Euro 2008 base in Tenero, south Switzerland, while staying at a luxury villa in nearby Ascona.

But he confessed his prowess at table tennis has gone backwards, especially at the hands of Hertha Berlin defender Arne Friedrich.

"The tension is rising in the squad, we had two tough weeks at our training camp in Majorca where we worked on fitness and stamina rather than tactics, like we have this week," revealed Lahm.

"Things have been relaxed in the team hotel and I have rekindled my love for table-tennis.

"I haven't played since the 2006 tournament and I haven't improved, Arne Friedrich still hammers me every time, he has got better."