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Germany captain Lahm retires from internationals

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Berlin, July 19 (AP) - World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm has retired from playing for Germany.

The 30-year-old Lahm informed German Football Federation (DFB) president Wolfgang Niersbach of his decision in a telephone call on Friday.

Lahm played 113 games for Germany, with his debut in a 2-1 victory over Croatia on Feb. 18, 2004. He started every game, won 83, and lost just 13.

"I could tell very early in the conversation that it was futile to try to talk him out of his decision," Niersbach said. "He wasn't only an outstanding player in 10 years with the national team, but always an absolute role model. I thanked him for everything he delivered for the DFB."

Lahm said he decided over the course of the past season to retire after the World Cup, and that he informed Germany coach Joachim Loew on Monday, he said in a statement on the DFB website.

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola once described Lahm as "the most intelligent player I've ever trained," and the Spanish coach surprised many by playing the defender in midfield last season.

Lahm, however, rose to the challenge and even started the World Cup in midfield for Germany, before Shkodran Mustafi's injury meant he reverted to right back for the remainder of the tournament.

"I am happy and thankful that my national team career ended with the World Cup win in Brazil," Lahm said.

"I have been on holiday for three days and have peace and time to come to terms with the end of my national team career. Many thanks for a wonderful time."

Lahm told Sport Bild magazine he was leaving the team in "full harmony."

"Ten years in the national team, three years for Bayern - Philipp it was a pleasure to play in one team with you," Germany forward Lukas Podolski tweeted.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said in another tweet: "Philipp Lahm is a model pro & his brilliant career will continue after international retirement. Some way to bow out!"

Chancellor Angela Merkel paid tribute to the player who took over as captain for the 2010 World Cup, when Michael Ballack dropped out through injury.

"I want to take the opportunity to express my great respect for what he has done for the national team," Merkel said.

Former Germany player and coach Rudi Voeller said the decision was "definitely a surprise for many. Philipp Lahm is the type of player you would have expected at the next World Cup with his playing ability and fitness."

Lahm recently extended his contract with Bundesliga champion Bayern to 2018.