Future bright, says Lahm

The 26-year-old - who has been an inspirational captain in the absence of the injured Michael Ballack - added that one day he expected he would be holding a trophy aloft and assuaging the pain of being part of teams that had lost two successive World Cup semifinals and the Euro 2008 final - 1-0 to Spain.

“I am a little surprised by the margins of victory against England (4-1) and Argentina (4-0),” said the 71-times capped Bayern Munich fullback. “But I have been training with these guys for a long time, and I knew what they were capable of.

“We were able to believe in our future. Spain proved that there is always room for improvement. Three to four weeks ago, they had the same players, and then they gained in confidence. We too can do similar things.”

Lahm, who repeated that he would not voluntarily hand back the captaincy to 33-year-old Ballack and would do so only if the coach instructed him to, admitted the defeat had been tough, he was reduced to floods of tears at the final whistle, but the Germans had still achieved more than other European heavyweights. “I am 26 and therefore I have some years of football at this level in front of me,” said Lahm.

“There will be other semifinals. But it is true, it will never be easy to think back on (the defeat). But there again look, Italy and France were knocked out really quickly (they both earned the unwanted tag of being the first finalists from the previous edition to both go out at the first stage).

“One day, I am convinced that we will be up there with the best. And then to also to lose a semifinal is not a mark of dishonour, that doesn’t happen (reaching a semi-final) every day either.”

Lahm said he saw Spain adding the world title to their European crown. “I see Spain winning it. But if not, I will be happy to see my clubmates (Mark van Bommel and Arjen Robben) return to Bayern with the trophy.”

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