Ascona (Switzerland) (AFP) – Germany veteran Lukas Podolski was left fuming on Wednesday having been dubbed the ‘mascot’ of die Mannschaft in some quarters due to his dearth of recent appearances for the world champions.
Podolski, who turns 31 on Saturday, has made 127 appearance for Germany, scoring 48 goals, in more than a decade. This will be his fourth European championships, having also played at three World Cups.
But he was last a first-choice starter for Germany four years ago at Euro 2012 and only played in two group stage matches when Joachim Loew’s side won the 2014 World Cup.
The forward’s lack of game time in Germany’s famous white shirt has seen him dubbed ‘mascot’ on social media by some fans, a term he strenuously rejects.
“I think it’s totally disrespectful! I have played over 100 internationals and I don’t deserve (to be called) that,” he said on Wednesday at Germany’s pre-Euro 2016 training camp in Ascona, Switzerland.
“I can understand any discussion about me as a person, only ‘mascot’ has no part in that.
“It’s outrageous to call me that.”
After spells at Bayern Munich, Cologne, Arsenal and Inter Milan in recent years, Podolski joins the Germany camp in rich form having scored the winning goal for Galatasaray in the Turkish Cup final last Thursday.
Last season, he netted 17 goals with nine assists for his club.
“I had a good season in Turkey with a lot of goals and assists, plus the cup win to crown it off,” he said.
“I’ve joined the (German) team in top form and can help the team with my experience of playing at seven tournaments.”
Podolski is just one short of matching Jurgen Klinsmann’s Germany record of five goals scored at European championships’ finals.
But his last international over 90 minutes was in November 2014 — against minnows Gibraltar — and since then he played a grand total of 115 minutes in ten games, mainly off the bench.
He currently has other things to worry about other than playing at Euro 2016 when Germany start their Group C campaign on June 12 against Ukraine in Lille.
His wife Monika is expecting the couple’s second child and Podolski has permission to leave the training camp at short notice to join his wife in Cologne for the birth.
“I’m waiting all the time for her call, then I’ll fly straight away,” he added.