Matthõus to set new world appearance record.
Tonight the Amsterdam Arena will play host not only to the friendly international between the Netherlands and Germany, but it will also witness Germany's Lothar Matthõus become the world's most capped footballer. The current record of 143 caps is currently held by the Swedish goal keeping legend Thomas Ravelli. But the title Ravelli has been recently sharing with Matthõus will officially be transferred to the German this evening when he will attain a new record of 144 international appearances. Coincidentally Matthõus began his playing career 20 years ago against the Netherlands. The setting was the European Championship in Italy, 1980. Matthõus played a little under a third of the game which the Germans eventual won 3-2, but not before the soon to be record holder had given away a penalty. Thus began an illustrious career both at club level and internationally. Having dispatched the Dutch on the way the West German team went on to win the 1980 European championships. Matthõus is no stranger to Dutch football, even citing Johann Cruyff as his footballing inspiration, and he has also played the Netherlands no less than seven times and only lost once, in the famous Euro '88 semi finals. Two years later Matthõus led his national team to the World Cup final at Italia '90, where in the finest footballing achievement of his career, the then German captain inspired his side to a 1-0 victory over Argentina and lifted the World Cup. Having played in Italy for Inter Milan, Matthõus decided the time was right to return home in 1992 joining Bayern Munich. The midfield stalwart then experienced a period of International exclusion. From the newly reunified Germany emerged Matthias Sammer; a player whom Berti Vogts felt fitted his chosen style of play more than Matthõus. Therefore Matthõus missed out on success of Euro '96, and although bitter at his experience in the wings he battled and succeeded in lifting Bayern to great heights, so much so that the national coach could no longer ignore his status as world class player. When France '98 came around and the unfortunate Sammer was badly injured, the decision was made to replace him with Matthõus. He went on to be one of the few German players to return home from the World Cup with his head held high secure in the knowledge that at least he performed to his maximum ability even if his team did not. Now with Euro 2000 closing in the current German coach, Erich Ribbeck has made it clear that Matthõus central to his plans. What better way to finish such a long and distinguished career than with another major tournament triumph?