Eight things you need to know about Man United signing Bastian Schweinsteiger
Paul McNamara gives us the low down on Manchester United's new signing Bastian Schweinsteiger
1) Of the 112,053 metres covered by Germany’s players in 120 minutes of action at last year’s World Cup final against Argentina, Schweinsteiger’s personal tally of 15,339m contributed a healthy 13.7 per cent of that total.
2) Schweinsteiger’s Bavarian birthplace, in the village of Kolbermoor and 16 kilometres from Berggasthof Schweinsteig, provides an insight into the origins of his surname – and offers more explanation for the background to his family name than the popular simple translation of Schweinsteiger into the English phrase ‘pig climber’. The English word for Schwein is pig, and the old German term ‘steig’ means stable. The suffix ‘er’ on any German name typically denotes that it relates to a specific place or thing. Schweinsteiger, then, is perhaps a descendent of pig farmers from the area of Berggasthof Schweinsteig. The name is common in Bavaria.
3) Along with Philipp Lahm, Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben, Schweinsteiger was one of four Bayern Munich players to start all three of the club’s Champions League final appearances in 2010, 2012 and 2013. Munich were beaten by Inter Milan in 2010, before losing to Chelsea in their own Allianz Arena two years later. Robben’s winner finally sealed European glory for Bayern in an all-German Wembley final against Borussia Dortmund two years ago.
4) Schweinsteiger was the unfortunate player who had his penalty saved by Petr Cech in the 2012 final, leaving the path clear for Didier Drogba to convert the decisive strike. It should be noted, though, that the showpiece match’s villain had been the hero in the last-four; Schweinsteiger being the man who strode up to stroke home from 12-yards in Real Madrid’s Bernabeu Stadium to seal Bayern’s progress to a home final, after another shoot-out.
5) If, as expected, Schweinsteiger commits to a three-year deal at Old Trafford, the German will be 34 when his contract has run its course. Lothar Matthaus, Schweinsteiger’s forerunner as the midfield driving force behind Germany’s World Cup triumph of 1990, was earning a fourth Bundesliga crown with Bayern at that advanced age. A similarly dynamic presence in the centre of the park, when in his prime, Matthaus also possessed the acute football intelligence with which current German national team coach Joachim Low credits Schweinsteiger. Matthaus refined his game in order to elongate his decorated career, eventually going on into his 40th year, winning league titles five, six and seven in Germany, and appearing in the famous 1999 Champions League final against Manchester United at the age of 38, before hanging up his boots: food for thought for anybody who considers Schweinsteiger to be arriving in Manchester to wind down the clock on his playing days.
6) Any followers of the Wimbledon tennis tournament this year will be aware that Schweinsteiger has already spent some time acclimatising to the English grass. The 30 year-old was in SW19 for a portion of the tournament’s first week to watching his girlfriend Ana Ivanovic, the Serbian women’s World number seven player, and a French Open winner in 2008. Schweinsteiger will want to hit the ground running in this country quicker than his partner managed at the All England club, however. Ivanovic was dispatched by American Bethanie Matek-Sands in the second round in west London.
7) Continuing on a tennis theme, Schweinsteiger has developed a kinship with Boris Becker. The three-time Wimbledon champion is a passionate Bayern fan and serves on the club’s advisory board. After disclosing that he is a ‘fan’ of Schweinsteiger at May’s French Open, where the footballer was again part of his partner’s support entourage, Becker revealed that his compatriot had acknowledged the pair’s influence on Serbian tennis. Becker is coach to Novak Djokovic, the man who this week retained his Wimbledon title, so is perhaps in the stronger position to validate Schweinsteiger’s claim that ‘Germans are good for the Serbians’.
8) As predecessor to Heynckes at the Allianz Arena, Louis van Gaal knows exactly what he is getting with Schweinsteiger. Correspondingly, the player is sure to trust the United manager implicitly. It was Van Gaal who was responsible for shuffling Schweinsteiger from his positon as a wide midfielder, into the central berth from which he now orchestrates proceedings. Working together in Germany the two men won a domestic league and cup double in 2010, as well as reaching that season’s Champions League final. Schweinsteiger clearly enjoys playing for the current Manchester United boss. In Van Gaal’s two campaigns with Bayern (albeit, the Dutchman left Bavaria weeks before the end of the 2010/2011 term), the midfielder recorded his first and second highest number of league starts in his thirteen seasons as a first-team member at Munich.