Ballack hits back at Lahm over captaincy

FRANKFURT - Michael Ballack has hit back at Philipp Lahm's wish to stay as German captain after his stint in charge during the World Cup when regular skipper Ballack was ruled out with injury.

Lahm said in an interview during the World Cup that he would not give up the captain's armband of his own free will, a comment which has annoyed Ballack.

"I am still captain of the national team," Ballack was quoted by German newspapers as saying at a news conference on Wednesday following his return to Bayer Leverkusen. "I have absolute trust in the German coach (Joachim Low)."

He was also critical of Lahm's timing.

"These comments irritated me. It is unlucky when you are injured and you are spoken about. You cannot go on the pitch and show the critics what you can do. You are powerless," he said.

Lahm took over the German captaincy after Ballack injured his ankle during former club Chelsea's FA Cup final victory over Portsmouth in May.

Germany performed strongly during the tournament in South Africa. They finishing third, scoring four goals in three separate matches before falling to eventual winners Spain in the semi-final.

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