Bastian Schweinsteiger will be remembered as one of Germany's all-time greats because he was "symbolic" for more than 10 years, according to his first Bayern Munich coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.
Schweinsteiger, 35, confirmed on Tuesday he will end his playing career when the 2019 MLS season concludes , with Chicago Fire failing to reach the playoffs.
The midfielder has enjoyed an illustrious career at the top, spending 13 years in Bayern's first-team before also playing for Manchester United for just over 18 months.
But arguably most importantly he represented his country for 12 years after making his debut in 2004, helping it to a third-place finish as World Cup host in 2006, then again in South Africa four years later, before eventually becoming champion in 2014.
Hitzfeld gave Schweinsteiger his Bayern debut as an 18-year-old in 2002 and feels it was an honour to work with someone who went on to become a Germany icon. "That was the time when I thought I could throw the boy in," Hitzfeld told Goal and SPOX of Schweinsteiger's debut against Lens in the Champions League 17 years ago.
"I had already seen in the training games what a high level and what great talent he had. Nevertheless, it is a long way [to the top]. As a coach, I experienced many talents who then fell by the wayside.
"For me as a coach, it was not difficult to shape him, because his great talent was already there. Bastian was a born footballer, you do not have to do much, just lead. That's why I'm glad he made that career. It was a privilege to work with him, because such a player is a gift for every coach.
"Bastian is one of the best German footballers of all time. He has shaped German football with his unbelievable game intelligence for more than a decade as a symbolic figure. His share in winning the World Cup was incredibly high. You cannot overestimate his performance.
"With this German mentality, with this fighting spirit coupled with his technical ability, he has fought until the end. He has preceded [others] as an absolute role model and has transferred his incredible will to the team."
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