Kahn, Figo, Pauleta call time on careers

Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn announced on Saturday that he was retiring from international football after his team beat Portugal 3-1 in the World Cup match for third place on Saturday.

He told reporters: "That was my last international match. It was a beautiful time but you have to know when it's all over.

"The atmosphere was overwhelming. You have to stop and think for a moment what it would have been like if we had won the World Cup.

"It was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, emotional moment that I can remember.

"That was my last international match - and you could hardly ask for a better match to go out on. But you have to know when it's time to go."

Kahn, who had 86 caps for Germany, was captain of the team that went to the World Cup final in 2002, where they lost to Brazil 2-0. He won the Golden Ball award given to the most valuable player of the 32-team tournament.

But Kahn was demoted by coach Juergen Klinsmann two years ago when he took over.

Klinsmann first stripped Kahn of the captaincy in favour of midfielder Michael Ballack. He also made Kahn compete with long-time understudy Jens Lehmann for the first-choice goalkeeping spot.

Kahn, 37, lost out to Lehmann just before the World Cup. He played in the match against Portugal as a gesture of thanks for his loyalty to the team after being demoted.

Klinsmann paid tribute to Kahn after Saturday's match, praising him for dealing maturely with the decision in favour of Lehmann.

"It's unbelievable how he dealt with that," Klinsmann said. "I can only speak about Oliver with the greatest respect."

Kahn was captain for the 49th time on Saturday because Ballack was out with an injury.

He played his first match for Germany against Switzerland in Berne on June 23, 1995 - a 2-1 victory for Germany.

The Bayern Munich captain has been named the world's best goalkeeper three times and Europe's best keeper four times.

Portuguese stars

Accompanying Kahn, Portugal captain Luis Figo and striker Pauleta announced their retirement from international football after Portugal-Germany match.

Figo, 33, revealed his decision to Portuguese television following the game in which he made a brief substitute appearance late on and set up his side's consolation goal for Nuno Gomes.

One of the few players to have represented both Spanish arch-rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona, Figo had initially announced the end of his Portugal career after the 2004 European Championship, which his side hosted and finished as runners-up. But he re-considered his decision last year, to the delight of coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

FIFA's 2001 World Player of the Year is Portugal's most capped player with 127 appearances in which he has scored 32 goals.

"It is hard for me to end my international career in this way. I did everything I could and the team gave their all," he said.

"I'm very proud to have been part of this team," he said. "It's very difficult to leave after 15 years but the time had to come in the end."

Scolari said that Figo did not start against the Germans because he was still in discomfort following Wednesday's 1-0 semi-final defeat by France.

Pauleta, 33, is Portugal's all-time leading scorer with 47 goals in 87 appearances.

Despite his team's surprise progress to the semi-finals, he had an unhappy tournament in Germany, scoring his only goal four minutes into Portugal's opening game against Angola.

"Pauleta is part of a group," said Scolari, defending his striker. "When he scored all those goals in the qualifiers, he was part of a group then as well."

Source: China Daily



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