Germany boss Joachim Low is not planning to call up World Cup winners Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller again, effectively bringing an end to their international careers.
The Bayern Munich trio, who on Tuesday all trained with their club, were part of the squad who triumphed in Brazil in 2014, but also the group who crashed out of the last year’s World Cup at the group stage in Germany’s earliest exit in 80 years.
All three have struggled to hit their best form this season, with Low claiming he now needs to look to the future to bring in a new era of success.
‘I thank Mats, Jerome and Thomas for the many successful, extraordinary and unique years we shared,’ Low said in a statement issued by the German FA.
‘Now it is time to set the course for the future. We want to give the team a new look.
‘I am convinced that this is the right step. The youngsters coming through will have the room they need to grow. Now it’s up to them to take on responsibility.’
Low, who can call on young talent including Julian Brandt, Kai Havertz, Leroy Sane, Niklas Sule and Serge Gnabry, said he had travelled to Munich to inform the three Bayern players of his decision.
‘2019 is a new beginning for the Germany national team,’ he said.
‘It was important for me to personally explain my decision to the players and the FC Bayern management.’
Low has been in charge since 2006 and his contract runs to 2022, taking in next year’s European Championship and the Qatar World Cup.
With close to 250 internationals between them, Hummels (70 caps), Muller (100) and Boateng (74) were part of the same generation.
Hummels and Boateng, both 30, played together in the 2009 Under 21 European Championship triumph as Germany started to reap the rewards of a major and sustained investment in youth players that had started seven years earlier.
They all graduated to the senior team and took part in the 2010 World Cup where Germany’s youngest tournament team in 76 years reached the semi-finals with an exciting run that included wins over England and Argentina.
Muller, 29, has scored 10 goals at World Cups, winning the golden boot in 2010. He was the second-top scorer four years later with another five goals.
The trio’s international cycle was complete when Germany were crowned world champions in 2014, having also clinched an extraordinary 7-1 victory against hosts Brazil in the semi-finals.
‘I am personally convinced that I can still play at the highest level and will continue to do so,’ Boateng wrote on Twitter.
‘I was always extremely proud to wear the national team top and I will never forget the summer of 2014. But I would have obviously wished for a different departure.’
He added on Instagram: ‘German coach Joachim Low told me today in a straightforward interview that I will not continue to be part of the DFB team, he wants to offer young players the stage in the future and especially in view of the upcoming tournaments of the team wants to give a new face.
‘I am sad about this news because it has always been the greatest thing for me to represent my country.
‘Nevertheless, I respect the new course and understand the decision of the national coach. I was young myself and reliant on older players to make room for me. Personally, I am convinced that I can continue to play at the highest level and will continue to do so in the future.
‘I will always look back with great pleasure on the time spent in the DFB team. I have always been extremely proud to wear the jersey of the national team and I will never forget summer 2014 in particular. Of course, I would have wished for another farewell for us.
‘Good luck of the team for the future!’
Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff told German newspaper Bild: ‘Thomas, Mats and Jerome have achieved a lot for German football,’
‘They will continue to do so for their club. I continue to feel very connected to them and am thankful for the time we spent together in the national team.’
Germany play their first international of 2019 on March 20 against Serbia in Wolfsburg.