Per Mertesacker said he never dreamed he would even come close to getting 100 caps for Germany, which he will mark on Saturday, and went out of his way on Thursday to praise former coach Juergen Klinsmann for shaking up the 'Nationalelf' a decade ago.
The towering Mertesacker, one of the cleanest defenders in the game who only rarely gets booked, said he was also proud that he managed to defy the many naysayers who thought his international career should have ended six years ago.
"A few years ago I didn't really ever expect to be able get 100 caps," said the Arsenal centre back who looks set to start for Germany in the Group G clash with Ghana on Saturday.
Neither did his detractors, who said he was too slow, too heavy and then too old to keep up with the fastest strikers of the game. But he has prevailed and staved off a number of challengers over the years with the same unflustered consistency that he demonstrates on the pitch.
Mertesacker, who never seems to lose his temper, clearly relished the fact that he has survived so long as a bulwark in Germany's back four and even though he will turn 30 on September 29, he hopes to be around for a few more years.
With his 100th cap on Saturday, Mertesacker will become the 13th Germany player to reach that coveted century mark – a list headed by Lothar Matthaeus with 150 caps from 1980 to 2000.