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Train instead of helicopter for Euro 2024 tournament director Lahm

German retired footballer Philipp Lahm (R) and German former football player Franz Beckenbauer attend the opening gala of the Hall of Fame of German soccer at German Football Museum. Ina Fassbender/dpa
German retired footballer Philipp Lahm (R) and German former football player Franz Beckenbauer attend the opening gala of the Hall of Fame of German soccer at German Football Museum. Ina Fassbender/dpa

Franz Beckenbauer and Philipp Lahm share the distinction of being World Cup winning Germany captains and then major home tournament directors but that doesn't mean they will fill the latter role in the same way.

Lahm told dpa in the final countdown to Friday's Euro 2024 kick-off that he will for instance not take a helicopter to attend almost every match, like Beckenbauer famously did at the 2006 World Cup.

Sustainability a key now

"Franz Beckenbauer was quite rightly celebrated for watching almost every match - sometimes only one half, and then went by helicopter to the next venue," the 40-year-old Lahm said.

"But times are changing, and everyone has to adapt."

Sustainability has played a big role "from the outset" around Euro 2024, and therefore 2014 World Cup winner Lahm said he will use other means of transport, even if that means he won't be able to see as many matches as 1974 World Cup champion Beckenbauer, who died in January at age 78 and will be honoured at Friday's opening ceremony.

"There is a sustainability strategy, and it would fit in if the tournament director flies from one venue to the other by helicopter," Lahm said.

"I will do these trips by train and watch as many matches as possible," he said, with the modest goal of getting to all 10 venues during the group stage.

From player to Euro official

Beckenbauer was instrumental in getting the World Cup to Germany as bid chief.

Defender Lahm ended his playing career at Bayern Munich in 2017 and given his vision and intuition it was no surprise that he became an important ambassador of the Euro bid the following year.

He was then appointed tournament director in December 2020, two years after Germany was awarded the tournament.

Lahm heads the EURO 2024 GmbH, a joint venture of the German federation DFB and the European body UEFA, and is the face of the tournament's organizational side.

The role has taken him to meetings with Germany's political brass led by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier but also to Monday opening of the International Police Cooperation Center for the tournnament.

Different international climate

Lahm's task is far more more complex than that of Beckenbauer 16 years years as he has to generate excitement for the tournament in difficult times for Germany and a different international climate with the Ukraine and Gaza wars.

But he is spreading optimism as he is "enormously" looking forward to the tournament in every aspect.

"I believe it is a given that we will see great games. The best teams in Europe have qualified. It is important that we celebrate together and get to know each other in a better way," he said.

That is true to the tournament motto "United by Football. United in the Heart of Europe."

It helps if the home team delivers

Lahm said he is looking forward to "when the ball gets rolling" and knows that the atmosphere will also depend a lot on the home team - having scored Germany's first goal in 2006 to ignite a run into the semi-finals.

"The team presented itself young and with euphoria," he said of the 2006 team.

"And exactly the same must now come again from the team. It is their responsibility to bring the enthusiasm onto the pitch," Lahm said, convinved that "all of us will see a big celebration in summer" if this happens.