Lukas Podolski recalls four games that changed his life: 'The best moment? Carrying the World Cup'
Former Arsenal forward Podolski talks derby day wins in England and Germany, scoring against Poland and lifting the Jules Rimet trophy
Lukas Podoloski has played professional football in seven countries (and counting), scored 49 international goals in 130 appearances for Germany, and won the 2014 World Cup.
Best known for his three-season spells at Bayern Munich, FC Köln and Arsenal, Podolski is now 37-years-old and is currently playing football in Poland for Górnik Zabrze. The forward joined the club in 2021, after spending time at Inter Milan, Galatasaray, Vissel Kobe and Antalyaspor since leaving North London.
Since stepping up to senior football in 2003, Podolski has won nine trophies, but, now in the swansong of his career, he tells FourFourTwo about the games that changed his life...
FC Köln 1 Borussia Mönchengladbach 0
January 31, 2004, Bundesliga
“I’d made my Bundesliga debut at home to Hamburg, aged 18, then scored my first goal with a header at Hansa Rostock. You never forget those moments. But the derby against Borussia Mönchenglabdach a few months later was special – we won 1-0 and I scored.
"The renovated RheinEnergieStadion had just opened, and I managed to score one of the first goals there to beat our rivals. In those first years as a professional, everything was new to me. I loved every match and every practice; every away trip and every hotel. Ever since, Cologne has been my home and always will be. Maybe I’ll play for them again one day – who knows?”
Germany 2 Poland 0
June 8, 2008, European Championship
“This was a difficult and emotional game for me. Both the German and Polish press focused on me before it, building the pressure, and there were so many Polish fans in the ground. I can’t say it was simply a regular match for me [playing for Germany having been born in Poland], but I just tried to focus on playing the right way.
"In the end, I got two goals and we won. I didn’t celebrate, but I’m a professional and had to do what was expected of me. I support Poland on every other occasion. I was emotional before and after the game, but for 90 minutes I came to do my job for Germany.”
Germany 1 Argentina 0 (AET)
July 13, 2014, World Cup
“The best moment? Carrying the World Cup, touching it and having it in my hands – nothing beats that. You see the actual trophy on television when you’re a little kid and dream about it… then one day, I had it and no one could take it away from me. That was a really fun moment. We weren’t the favourites at that World Cup, but beat Brazil 7-1 in the semi-finals.
"The final against Argentina was so difficult, though: we didn’t play very well at the beginning and Gonzalo Higuain missed a huge opportunity for them. We had a lot of luck that day, but that’s football. No one remembers it now. We probably had a stronger team and played better football at the 2010 World Cup, but lost 1-0 to Spain in the semi-finals. Four years later, luck was on our side at the Maracana.”
Tottenham 0 Arsenal 1
March 16, 2014, Premier League
"North London derbies were always special occasions. I remember this game because of a famous picture taken by photographers, who captured the moment when I jumped into the stands to celebrate with our fans. It’s a great image and was a brilliant moment – I really liked my time at Arsenal and the relationship I built with all the supporters there. We didn’t win the league title, but we were able to lift the FA Cup twice in a row and that was a fantastic experience for me. Once I finally retire, I’ll be going back to the Emirates Stadium just to watch matches."
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