STUTTGART:

Oliver Kahn never got the World Cup winner’s medal he had hoped for. Kahn retired from international soccer after Germany’s 3-1 win over Portugal in the third-place match on Saturday, ending one chapter of a stellar career in which he won just about everything else.

“I always said I absolutely wanted to be world champion. Unfortunately, I only made it to runner-up four years ago,” Kahn said. The 37-year-old said it would be “utopian” to think he could fill the gap in his career record in the 2010 tournament. “I’m still young but no longer the youngest,” he said, dismissing his chances of emulating Italy’s Dino Zoff, who won the trophy aged 40. “Times have changed and you have to be realistic and find a sensible moment” to stop.

After the final whistle, Kahn went to the stands and threw his gloves into the crowd, then led a slow procession around the stadium. “It was one of the most emotional, if not the most emotional moment that I can remember. You can hardly wish a for more beautiful final game,” Kahn said.

Coach Juergen Klinsmann decided to play Kahn against Portugal after consulting his No 1 Jens Lehmann. Kahn, playing his 86th cap, was also captain again because Michael Ballack missed the game with a knee injury.

“He was fantastic,” Klinsmann said. “I can only speak about Oliver with the highest respect.” It was Kahn’s first World Cup game since the 2002 final, when his fumble opened the way for Brazil to win 2-0 on a pair of goals from Ronaldo. While Brazil celebrated, a disconsolate Kahn leaned back against one of his posts and stayed motionless for minutes.

Despite that blunder, Kahn won FIFA’s player of the 2002 tournament award and the nickname of “Titan” back in Germany. — AP

Figo calls it a day

STUTTGART: Portugal said goodbye to one of its greatest heroes here on Saturday as winger Luis Figo bowed out of international football in his country’s 3-1 defeat to Germany in the World Cup third place play-off. The 33-year-old Figo won his 127th cap for Portugal — he is the country’s most capped player — coming on in the 75th minute for a cameo role, providing the curling cross for Nuno Gomes to score Portugal’s goal. At the final whistle Figo was in tears after 15 years of international service came to an end. “It is hard for me to end my international career in this way. I did everything I could and the team gave their all, but Germany deserved their victory,” Figo said.

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, who attended the match, said Figo had been “a great captain”. “This squad had in Luis Figo a great leader on the pitch,” he told Portugal’s SIC television.

Figo was part of his country’s ‘golden generation’ that won the under-16 European championship in 1989 and the under-20 world championship in 1991.

After a semi-final exit at Euro 2000, Figo channelled his efforts into the Euro 2004 finals in his homeland, but Portugal lost 1-0 to surprise package Greece in the final and Figo announced his retirement from international football shortly afterwards.

Portugal Luiz Felipe Scolari persuaded him to reverse his decision and have one last crack at landing a major title at this World Cup. — AFP