The Bayern Munich goalkeeper praised the qualities of defender Benedikt Howedes as he looked forward to Germany’s Euro 2016 opener against Ukraine
Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has played down the importance of captaining of his country at Euro 2016 and insists responsibility lies with the whole team.
Neuer may lead the team out in their opening game against Ukraine on Sunday if regular skipper Bastian Schweinsteiger fails to prove his fitness in time to be selected.
Schweinsteiger has been in recovery from a knee injury during Germany’s build-up to the tournament, but Neuer was cool on the possibility of being handed the role.
“Who wears the armband doesn’t play too big a role,” he said. “[Head coach] Joachim Low didn’t talk in front of the team about that and neither with me personally. But in the end it’s not important for us who will be our captain on the pitch if Bastian Schweinsteiger can’t play from the beginning.
“As a goalkeeper I need to take responsibility anyway. I’m a leading player in the national team for years. My job is also to guide the team, especially young players, so that they are integrated quickly.
“I want everything to be organised on the pitch. I want to be a goalkeeper who talks a lot, not just on the pitch but also besides.
“But the mood is good, we talk a lot. We have a lot of players who take leading roles. Every player has to be alert and take on responsibility, particularly in training so that we get into our rhythm.”
Neuer is confident that he will go into the tournament with a strong defence in front of him and singled out Schalke defender Benedikt Howedes for praise.
He said: “Benedikt Howedes can play in several positions in the defence. After Antonio Rudiger left, it’s good that we have flexible players. Howedes is of course one of them.
“He can fight, he’s good at set-pieces, he’s good at headers.
“We will have a good defence in the game, the coach will have the last word on that. I like all the players who could play there. We will definitely have a functioning defence in the first game.
“We’re excited that the tournament is about to begin. We want to be here for a while.”