lukas podolski.jpg
Photograph: Новикова Юлия [CC BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Twelve years, seven major tournaments and one World Cup crown proved to be enough for Lukas Podolski as the veteran striker announced Monday that he has stepped down from the "Mannschaft" - the German national team.

"The time has come," Podolski wrote on his Instagram account. "I want to tell you today, that I have called Coach (Joachim) Loew to inform him that I'll not be part of the national team any longer. I'm at a point in my career where I want to cut it back a bit.

"Now, my focus shifts to other aspects. My club. My foundation. Obviously my family, my wife and my two kids."

The 31-year-old, who this weekend starts his second season with Turkish club Galatasaray, bows out of international play after appearing in three World Cups and four European Championships, with the biggest highlight being the 2014 World Cup crown.

"It was a hard decision to make," he wrote. "For me, the Mannschaft always has been and always will be an affair of the heart. I feel a great deal of pride. What an amazing time it has been, all that we achieved in these 12 years. It was an incomparable experience with so much joy, passion, emotion and togetherness."

Podolski, who made his German debut in June 2004 just two days after his 19th birthday, scored 48 goals in 129 caps - the latter which ranks him third all-time for Germans behind Lothar Matthaeus' 150 caps and 137 from Miroslav Klose.

"We won so much with the DFB (German Football Federation) team. I have seen so many countries and cities, have met so many people, had so many unforgettable moments. It's been quite a journey," Podolski said.

The Gliwice, Poland native thanked the DFB, his former team-mates and his former coaches. He also praised the ever-present support from the German fans.

"My appreciation for all the fan support could not be greater. You guys have been amazing," he said.

"You always kept the faith. You just never wavered, I could always rely on you. This connection has been so important for me. As I leave the Mannschaft, this is what I'll miss the most: the closeness with the fans. For all and everything: Thank You."

Podolski's retirement comes barely over two weeks after Bastian Schweinsteiger stepped down on July 29. German football fans watched "Schweini" and "Poldi" grow up in front of their eyes together. Schweinsteiger earned 120 caps from 2004 to 2016.

"You can and could always rely on him. For all the looseness and easiness that he stands for, he is a model of professionalism and attitude," Loew said about Podolski on the DFB website.

"With Poldi, the national team loses a passionate footballer and a huge personality who will be missed by us and the fans," German national team manager Oliver Bierhoff added on the DFB site.

Podolski's final appearance for Germany came in the Round of 16 at Euro 2016 against Slovakia as he came on in the 72nd minute.

"Poldi" said he will now support the national team as a fan.

"For the German team, my best wishes. Let's defend this great title in 2018 and keep this marvelous trophy," he wrote.

"Starting today, I'll keep my fingers crossed – as one more fan of the Mannschaft. Take care. It's been an honour."

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