To which country does Bastian Schweinsteiger belong

: Bastian Schweinsteiger in a portrait: Why it can be the key

Santo André - When Bastian Schweinsteiger finally dared to play a couple of half-high passes on the fitness trainer Shad Forsyth on the sports field in the South Tyrolean Passeier Valley, it was perceived as a sensation by the observers in the stands. Look here, the Schweinsteiger can shoot again! It was five and a half weeks ago, and in spite of the tempered half-flight balls, nobody really believed that the professional from FC Bayern, with his constantly changing wounds, would be as good as possible again until the World Cup.

Joachim Löw didn't believe that either. He promised Philipp Lahm the place of Schweinsteiger and hastily nominated the unknown Christoph Kramer from Mönchengladbach. Better safe than sorry. But then Schweinsteiger quickly recovered. Löw recognized this and now overturned everything that was definitely not easy for him. But if a coach thinks it's better for the team that way, a coach has to break a promise, even if it's not comfortable. There is no getting around Schweinsteiger. The guy fought his way back.

Training to become a fighter

"I was brought up so that I never give up," Schweinsteiger once said in an interview with the kicker. He comes from Oberaudorf, a village of 4,000 people near the border with Austria. The people there are considered to be particularly tough and resilient. There is a lift in town. Schweinsteiger used to be a very good skier. But of course he didn't always get down. He learned early on what it felt like to fall. And then to get up again. Something like that. He also sucked strength from his missed penalty in the Champions League final in Munich 2012 against FC Chelsea. That was the hardest time.

He rarely gives interviews anymore, but that with the kicker was inevitable. It was a year ago. He was voted “Footballer of the Year” for the first time, the trade journal organizes this survey, and as a winner it is natural to answer questions. And as a manager of the German national team, apparently the most popular German player in Brazil before the semi-finals this Tuesday (10 p.m. / CEST) against the host country, it is also proper not to go publicly behind Thomas Müller or Manuel Neuer or Philipp Lahm.

Carefully maintained image

Schweinsteiger understood that. He knows how to stage himself in a targeted manner in his rare appearances and to proclaim messages. Four years ago, before the quarter-finals against Argentina in Cape Town, he played the aggressor in front of the stunned international press. The message was clear: the gauchos shouldn't think the Germans were afraid of them. Two days later Schweinsteiger followed suit and made the game of a lifetime at 4-0. Since then he has been respected and feared in the world.

And sometimes he is loved too. Not so much in his home country, where he has an ambivalent relationship with the press, to put it in a friendly way, than on site. Schweinsteiger has carefully maintained its image in Brazil. There is a YouTube clip in which he sings the hymn of the province of Bahia in front of the village inn, there are pictures on social networks: Schweinsteiger in the jersey of Esporte Clube Bahia, of Grêmio Porto Alegre, of Flamengo from Rio de Janeiro.

He serves his international clientele - and he is playing football almost as well again as if his patellar tendon had never been inflamed, as if he hadn't survived two ankle operations during the season. Against Brazil, he says, he has the confidence to hold out "more than 90 minutes". But if you look closely, you will also see, despite all the dedication, that Schweinsteiger is metering his strength very precisely.

Schweinsteiger, the chess player

His youth coach Hermann Gerland says he has "never seen a player who was so far at 17". Schweinsteiger is "a thinker, a chess player" on the soccer field, "smart, ball-safe, tough, strong with the ball". Schweinsteiger and the coarse hearted person Gerland have a special connection. “The tiger,” says Schweinsteiger, “always demands that we eat grass.” He internalized that: eat grass, “be ready to make meters for the other players”. It is the headline under which this World Cup should bring more to the Germany of the gifted than the previous World Championships.

Schweinsteiger is the master key to this. Teammate Jérôme Boateng says: “He has an uncanny presence on the pitch, always leads the way, he pulls the team along with his body language - especially when things aren't going so well.” That could be important against Brazil. Schweinsteiger says: “You always think the Brazilians are the magicians, but that is no longer the case.

The team has changed, they play football differently, and toughness is definitely part of it. ”Of course, it doesn't sound like he's afraid of it. But the message is nowhere near as martial as it was four years ago in South Africa towards Argentina. That would be unwise. Bastian Schweinsteiger knows that.

He is 29 now. He thinks he is at the apex of experience and what is left of his health. But that doesn't have to be the end after 106 international matches, he thinks: "I can certainly still play a World Cup if everything works as it should." But who knows what the body will say about it?