Bastian Schweinsteiger: Lowdown on the man set for Man Utd
By Lyall Thomas
Last Updated: 12/07/15 11:42am
Manchester United have agreed a deal with Bayern Munich to sign Germany international Bastian Schweinsteiger, pending the finalisation of personal terms and a medical. Sky Sports looks at the career of one of the finest modern midfield players….
Who wants to be a skiing racer?
Schweinsteiger almost became a professional skiing racer. He was brilliant at it in his teenage years, but there was no looking beyond a career in football after he was spotted by a Bayern scout and invited to join their youth ranks at the age of 13.
The midfielder has been consistently commended by coaches for his intelligence on the pitch and coupled with his technical ability, he rose swiftly through Bayern's youth ranks. But his progression was not always a guarantee - he was regarded as somewhat of a rebel in his first few years in the academy.
It was head coach Ottmar Hitzfeld who took the plunge on the boy in a Champions League group game in 2002, giving him his debut at 18. He made an instant impact, providing an assist.
He signed his first professional contract the following month and played in 14 Bundesliga games in the 2002/03 season, winning his first Bundesliga and German Cup, and featured in 26 matches the following season, scoring his first goal.
Euro 2004: Germany’s new generation
Now nicknamed "Schweiny" and Bayern’s new ‘it guy’, U-21 star Schweinsteiger burst onto the international scene as part of Germany’s ‘new generation’ at the 2004 European Championships. They went out in the group stage, but a selection of rising talent caught the eye including himself, Philipp Lahm and Lukas Podolski.
Germany declared that the rebel "Schweiny" was gone and a new pro born in his place. Head coach Rudi Voller said: "Bastian can play in various positions in midfield and he keeps to the tactics. He doesn't show that he is feeling the pressure and tension and he gave a cheeky performance."
But, as is often the case with young players, one manager might fancy you while another does not, and it was Hitzfeld’s successor Felix Magath who booted Schweiny back into Bayern’s reserves. He made just six first-team appearances in Magath’s first season and seven in his second.
Yet Germany kept faith and he shone again at the 2006 World Cup, scoring twice as his country claimed the third-place play-off. At the age of 22, he had already played 41 internationals – a record for any German player at the time.
Joining Van Gaal
Schweinsteiger restored himself in Bayern’s first-team during Hitzfeld’s second spell until 2009, when Louis van Gaal took over. The Dutchman continued to hone the midfielder’s talents and mould him into an experienced, model pro.
Together they picked up a fifth Bundesliga title for Schweinsteiger, and helped him fill the void left by the injured Michael Ballack in Germany's midfield at the 2010 World Cup. He was man of the match in the quarter-final win over Argentina, as Germany once again finished third.
Schweinsteiger has continued to lead the way as one of world football’s best all-round midfield players under a succession of managers, and he finally won the much coveted Champions League in 2013 with head coach Jupp Heynckes.
The player confirmed himself among the best of all time as he helped instigate Germany’s first World Cup triumph in 14 years at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Schweinsteiger is on the cusp of linking back up with Van Gaal and becoming Manchester United's first ever German player, arriving with a Champions League, eight Bundesliga titles, seven German cups, a FIFA Club World Cup, a UEFA Super Cup and a World Cup under his arm.
Van Gaal and the Manchester United supporters will be hoping Schweinsteiger can bolster the midfield and help the club re-live the glory days enjoyed under Sir Alex Ferguson.